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The Difference Between Advantage Play And Cheating

One Is Against The Law, The Other Isn't


If you think casinos always win, then you’re probably never heard of advantage play. Simply put, “advantage play” is the industry term for gambling systems that work. It’s a term coined by casino staff themselves.

Probably the best known example of advantage play is card counting. Technically card counting is legal, so it is not considered cheating. That is provided that you don’t use mechanical or electronic devices to assist you.

Both cheating and advantage play may be profitable for the player. But cheating is specifically any activity that is prohibited by law. Advantage play is similarly effective, but not specifically prohibited by law. This explanation may appear mundane, but it is important to understand that law significantly differs between jurisdictions. So what is considered legal advantage play in one jurisdiction, may be illegal cheating in another.

One example is in Vegas, the use of roulette computer devices is strictly illegal. If you are unfamiliar with the technology, see #1 at the page explaining the best roulette systems which lists some of the best and genuinely effective systems. Basically roulette computers are hidden electronic devices that measure the speed of the wheel and ball to predict the winning number. If you are caught using a roulette computer in Las Vegas, you will almost certainly be charged with a felony. But in many European countries, the devices are not specifically illegal. That is to say the legal definition of cheating does not cover the use of electronic predictive devices. And by definition, if something is not specifically illegal, then it is legal.

Prohibited doesn’t mean illegal

Casinos are usually private property, like any other business. Therefore a casino operator usually has the right to refuse entry or service to any player (for almost any reason). So every casino naturally prohibits the use of hidden devices that give the player an unfair advantage. This includes card counters, roulette computers, and other such technology. But a casino’s prohibition of cheating technology does not mean the technology is illegal. In many cases the cheating technology is still legal, although it can still get you banned.

Common examples of cheating

Gambling law varies considerably between jurisdictions. Again what is legal in one jurisdiction is not necessarily legal in another. But there are some commonalities between jurisdictions. One example is the influence of any casino game results is considered cheating. So if you tampered with a roulette wheel to doing increase your chances of winning, this would be considered cheating.

One of the weaknesses in gambling laws that define cheating is often they do not consider predicting game outcomes to be cheating. After all, every roulette player already tries to predict the next winning number. And just about every player for every casino game has their own gambling system. It’s just not viable for casinos to outlaw people from trying to win.

The grey areas of the law

If you’re thinking of developing a roulette or card counting computer, then applying it wherever it may be legal, not so fast. Although such devices may technically be legal in many jurisdictions, the laws are gradually changing. Furthermore, if cheats are caught, it’s a natural reaction for casino operators to ask police to charge offenders. This is the case even if the offender hasn’t done anything that is technically illegal. Basically the casino would be requesting that police use other areas of the law, such as those that broadly define fraud. However, generally it is up to government prosecutors as to whether or not the context of the law would realistically apply in such cases, and hold up in court. In such a context, the law is very much a grey area. So if you are caught with a cheating device, even where they are not expressly forbidden by law, you are still taking a chance.

One of the more recent test cases involving cheating devices occurred with the alleged use of roulette computers in a London casino. The players earned approximately £1.3 million in three days. Electronic devices such as mobile phones were confiscated, and the casino demanded the arrest of the players. However, the players were eventually released because even if they had used electronic devices, there was no specific law that prohibited their use. This was the decision of police in London, but is entirely possible police in a different jurisdiction may feel differently.

Moreover, if you were to use a legal but prohibited electronic cheating device, it’s possible the casino may file a civil lawsuit against you. In such a case, their attorneys would need to convince a judge that your use of electronic devices gave you an unfair advantage. Basically the casino would argue that you stole from them in a sophisticated manner. A judge would probably not make the distinction between advantage play, cheating, and common theft. And probably they would award in favour of the casino.

Do casinos break cheating laws?

In most jurisdictions, gambling law is particularly strict to ensure a “fair game”, with the odds clearly in the casino’s favour. If that sounds a little bit contradictory, that’s because it is. But the difference in this case is players at least know they are at a disadvantage. Or more specifically, they are supposed to. In reality, the average player has a very poor understanding of why they are practically guaranteed to lose over the long-term. It’s somewhat like asking someone to sign a contract, when they have a very poor understanding of what the contract says. If you are a roulette player, take a look at the best roulette strategy page which better explains why systems lose.

If the same laws were to apply rigidly to casinos, perhaps judges of some jurisdictions may consider some casinos do cheat. But the likelihood of a judge ruling against a casino is rather low. And the chances of a government prosecutor creating a case against casinos is even lower.

An example of how a casino may technically be cheating is explained at the best roulette strategy page. It explains that many automated roulette wheels deliberately manipulate the speed of the rotor and ball to affect the winning number. This artificial influence on game outcomes may be technically illegal.