While online casinos are more or less immune to the main forms of cheating, pretty much every other sport, gambling or racing event in the world has been swindled out of cash in one way or another.

Sometimes the crooks who perpetrate the scam get caught, other times they manage to get away scot free.

Las Vegas casinos are most often the target. With so much money, so many options and so much action, it’s hard to catch a single cheater in the act.

We here at Fair Go are fortunate to have members that are honest, trustworthy and absolute legends. This means we’ve never had a problem with our punters.

Other places, however, haven’t been so lucky. In this article, we discuss the 8 biggest scandals to rock the gambling industry.

Whether it be cricket match fixing, pokie machine tampering or coin counterfeiting, the following individuals and teams are infamous for trying to swing the odds in their favour… illegally.

1. Tommy Glenn Carmichael steals millions from casinos

We love the pokies at Fair Go casino. Heck… doesn’t everyone? What we don’t like though are actual physical pokie or slot machines, which are subject to tampering by unscrupulous people.

Take Tommy Glenn Carmichael, for example. Carmichael is an American who stole literally millions of dollars from casinos in the late 90s and early 2000s by coming up with different means for rigging slot machines.

He had many methods for doing this, but most involved special inventions such as the monkey’s paw. Also known as a slider, the monkey’s paw was a wire that could be inserted into the payout chute of the machine in order to trigger the switch that releases the jackpot.

When this technique became obsolete due to advancements in slot machine technology, Carmichael invented a wand with a light bulb that could trick the machine into spitting out coins by blinding the machine in questions sensor.

This device, along with the many others that he developed, allowed him to pull in thousands of dollars in winnings during his run as an online casino swindler. That is, until the FBI caught onto his scheme.

When this happened in 2001, Carmichael was sentenced to just under a year in prison. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was also banned from stepping foot in any casino on American soil after committing what is surely one of the biggest gambling scandals ever.

2. The Boston college basketball betting scandal

Basketball definitely isn’t as big in Australia as it is in America, but that doesn’t mean us Aussies don’t appreciate a big basketball gambling scandal when it comes along. And there’s nearly no bigger scandal than the Boston college scandal of the late 70s.

This match fixing scandal is one of the most famous in the world of American basketball. As the story goes, a former Boston college player was arrested in 1980 on drug charges. While being held for questioning, he began to spill the beans about what he and his other teammates did while playing basketball in college.

He told police that while on the team he was accosted by two mobsters and asked to manipulate basketball games so that the mobsters always had a fix on who would win. This manipulation came in the form of point shaving, which is when a team or player intentionally foregos points or intentionally gives the other team points.

In any case, this went on for a couple of seasons, with all players who were in on the scheme receiving around $2,500 per game in order to shave points. Of course, this confession led to the arrest of everyone who was found guilty in the scandal… including the mobsters. They were then sent to jail for a maximum of 30 years.

On the plus side though, they now have plenty of time to practice shooting hoops in prison.

3. A team of card counters from MIT beat the house odds

While the Boston college betting scandal is known America wide, a card counting team from MIT are the true rockstars when it comes to the biggest gambling scandals.

Called the MIT card counting team, this crew of 35 card counting casino swindlers were assembled by J.P. Massar and Bill Kaplan back in 1980. Their goal was to visit various casinos throughout the country and count cards in order to bag massive wins.

While not illegal, card counting was and is most definitely not OK from the perspective of casinos. The main reason being that it gives the person counting the cards an edge over the house.

Of course, the status of its legality was ruthlessly exploited by Massar and Kaplan’s team and before long they’d recruited people from top universities such as Harvard and MIT.

They went on to roll casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars and expand into other frowned upon schemes such as shuffle and ace tracking.

Eventually, this crack team of card counters had to close their doors due to the fact that they were attracting way too much heat.

The decision was made to quit while they were ahead and since then members of the team plus their two brilliant backers have gone on to write books and serve as the inspiration for a number of movies and TV shows.

4. "The Coin" is caught with fabricated slot-machine tokens

The mobsters from the Boston college basketball scandal aren’t the only shady figures to feature in our list of the biggest gambling scandals ever. Louis Colavecchio, also known as “The Coin”, is another sketchy bloke with ties to the underworld that has made a name for himself as a casino swindler.

Instead of fixing sporting matches like his Boston counterparts though, Colavecchio was a professional counterfeiter who made his moolah reproducing slot machine coins that he then used in Las Vegas slots.

Colavecchio would smuggle buckets of these coins into the casino and take his place at a row of machines. He would then introduce the coins into the machines, which essentially allowed him to gamble without ever having to part with any of his own money.

Colavecchio carried on with this ruse for quite a long while, amassing a small fortune in slot machine jackpot winnings. After a string of suspicious victories though, Colavecchio was investigated then subsequently convicted and sentenced to over 2 year in a federal penitentiary.

Colavecchio then got out of prison and lived a relatively quiet life, until he was arrested once again just a few years ago at the age of 76 for counterfeiting nearly 2,500 fake $100 notes.

If you want our opinion, Colavecchio needs to choose another profession. It seems that counterfeiting just isn’t something he’s good at… anymore.

5. The South African cricket team match fixing scandal

Cricket is one of Australia’s national pastimes, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to the odd dodgy deal. And yes, even us Australians have been accused of unfair sportsmanship. The crème of the crop when it comes to cricket scams, however, goes to the South African national team.

In 2000, during a taped conversation between an Indian bookie and the South African captain Hansie Cronje, it was revealed that Cronje had been taking bribes to throw various international cricket matches.

What followed was a blow up of astronomical proportions in South Africa, with the South African government taken the unprecedented step of establishing an inquiry into their national cricket team.

This inquiry revealed that Cronje had been fixing matches on a massive scale. He then admitted to this much in front of a tribunal and was immediately banned from playing professional cricket for life.

Before being kicked to the cricketing curb though, Cronje named a number of other players in the scandal.

This included fellow South African cricketers Herschelle Gibbs and Nicky Boje plus Mohammed Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja of the Indian team and Saleem Malik of Pakistan.

6. John Kane exploits a slot machine glitch in order to win over $500,000

Once again, we have another story about someone exploiting slot machines. Only this time, rather than use totally illegal but ingenious devices… John Kane managed to steal away more than $500,000 by hacking a bug found in slot machines throughout America.

As reported by various news outlets, Kane accidentally discovered a glitch in a specific slot machine. He found that this glitch was replicated across all other machines from the same manufacturer.

The glitch in question allowed players to replay their spin with a different sized wager, the advantage being that punters could simply bet 1c right up until they landed a jackpot hand. At this point, the player could then replay the hand once again but with a much higher wager.

This is exactly what Kane did to great success, earning over half a million in winnings over the course of a month. Kane even roped a friend into his scheme… before being taken to court over charges of hacking and conspiracy.

Surprisingly, both Kane and his mate ended up walking free. The courts simply could find any evidence that what they did was illegal. So while this may not be the biggest gambling scandal to ever rock the world, it’s definitely one of the biggest that was never prosecuted.

After all, all they really did was push a sequence of buttons that they were legally entitled to push.

7. The dishonest NBA referee

It’s not always players or punters that rort the system. Sometimes it’s the one man in the entire sport or industry that’s paid to ensure everything is done by the rulebook – the referee.

And one referee who springs to mind when it comes to the biggest gambling scandals ever is Tim Donaghey. Known as perhaps the most dishonest NBA referee to take to the court, Donaghey was found out to be rigging bets in his favour in order to make some extra dough.

In total, it was rumoured that Donaghey made over $30,000.

Upon trying to arrest him and take him to court though, he went into hiding for longer than a month. This led to some serious speculation within the NBA, as many teams felt like they’d been cheated of a win.

When he was finally discovered, Donaghey was charged and sent to prison for 15 months. And although the money was never located, he did say during the trial that he felt remorse for his actions.

8. Fine Cotton is replaced by another horse

To round out our list of the 8 biggest gambling scandals that rocked the world, we have one that’s become somewhat of a yardstick for dodgy dealings in the Land Down Under.

As the story goes, this salacious scandal begins with a gelding race horse called Fine Cotton.

Fine Cotton was a horse that due to lack of skill was relegated to lower-level racing events. As proof of its very ordinary ability, it’s best placed finish was a 10th in a field of 12 carrying only 53 kilograms.

Upon finding another horse that looked almost identical to Fine Cotton (who was running as a $33 outsider at this point in time), bloodstock agent John Gillespie schemed a way to replace Fine Cotton with the imposter.

The imposter horse was Bold Personality who ran several grades above Fine Cotton and on paper it was the perfect fit. The only glaring problem was that Bold Personality didn’t have colours that matched Fine Cotton. However, this was quickly sorted with a quick slap of paint.

The horse was then started in the very next race, but when stewards saw the odds firm so quickly, an investigation was called and the fix was revealed. A number of individuals responsible for the scam were all banned from racing for about 6 years, while Gillespie served time in jail.

Maybe next time they’ll need to use a better quality paint.

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