When it comes to gambling in Las Vegas, players are on top of the world when they are winning, and mired down in anxiety and depression when losing. This is how gambling works; it’s meant to be fun, yet it’s also a high-stakes form of gaming with some real financial consequences. In some situations, players lose so badly that they often wonder if the casino is rigging the game on purpose?
Las Vegas casinos are not rigged from a legal standpoint. While the casino may set the odds in their favor, that, in and of itself is not a criminal act. Rigging a casino game is the act of manipulating the mechanisms of the game itself to create a certain outcome.
This is not to wholeheartedly say that there aren’t any casinos in Las Vegas that are rigging games. Just in all practicality, Nevada laws are so strict against cheating in any capacity that it would be highly unlikely that any casino is actively rigging its games.
This is a complicated question, with many avenues to explore, so read on to discover more about casino rigging in Las Vegas to better understand the incredible risk this would pose to a casino.
(This article may contain affiliate links and we may earn a commission if you make a purchase.)
Learn poker strategy from a 10x World Series of Poker Champion! Phil Ivey Teaches Poker Strategy (MasterClass)
Table of Contents
Casino Rigging and Nevada State Law
Cheating in a Las Vegas casino, either by an individual or individuals within casino management, is a felony under the Nevada legal system. Even with this potential severity looming over any possible cheating prospect, gamers will frequently claim that Las Vegas casinos are rigged. It is perfectly okay to be angry when losing, but the claim of rigging is a very bold assumption to say casually.
The major Nevada law associated with any possible casino rigging is explained in NRS 465.085. It is illegal for any casino or manufacturer of casino gaming equipment to alter or manipulate equipment to an unfair advantage. With the stakes so high for a multi-million dollar Las Vegas casino, it can be assumed that no direct or fraudulent rigging of any kind is being conducted by casino management.
The situation is also covered legally for gamers who are cheating and claim that the casino equipment or dealers are the ones cheating. This is known as “Cheating at Gaming” and is just as severe as gambling fraud. Although each individual is free to make their own mistakes, Las Vegas is a world-renowned destination, and gambling is the ultimate draw. The risks are simply too high to assume that a casino is forcibly and willfully rigging games.
Do Las Vegas casinos check ID? Find out in our article here.
Cheating at Gaming vs. Gambling Fraud: What’s the Difference?
“Gambling Fraud” would be the proper term used for any scenario of a casino rigging games. NRS 465.085 covers a wide array of possible scenarios that could be classified as casino rigging. All gambling equipment is covered under this law, and the law even goes further to provide prosecution for any casino employee who acts with a dealer or on their own accord to manipulate the results of a game. For cheating players, the law is similar.
“Cheating at Gaming” is covered in NRS 465.083, which also ties into possible casino rigging when the cheating is committed by an employee of a casino. Since cheaters will sometimes try to claim that the casino was rigging the game, the laws are closely intertwined to protect either party, a player or a casino, in the possible verdict of which party committed the crime.
Important: While both “Gambling Fraud” and “Cheating at Gambling” would constitute illegal “rigging”, this is an entirely separate issue from the “odds” of winning. The odds set on any game or machine clearly favor “the house” and are not considered “rigging” or criminal in any way.
Nevada laws cover all of the bases in regards to cheating, even if the crime is as severe as a casino rigging a game. With strict laws firmly in place, the scenario of a casino rigging a game in Las Vegas is highly unlikely. Casino rigging is broadly defined by some particular types of gaming that appear in accusations more than others.
Frequently Mentioned Types of Rigged Gaming
Slot machines and roulette are notoriously associated with claims of rigging. The reasons behind this are explained below.
Slot machines can be pretty addictive since they are so fun and invigorating in their simplicity. With this in mind, players will sometimes cry foul play when a winning streak quickly escalates into a losing streak. Slot machines are run by statistically-calculated algorithms that select a loss or win at random.
Although slot machines have a checkered past, the odds are even for wins and losses. Just because a player keeps playing and spending doesn’t mean that a machine was rigged just because the outcome wasn’t what they wanted.
Do Las Vegas casinos pump extra oxygen onto the gaming floor to keep guests awake and spending? Find out in our article here.
Placing bets on a landing number in roulette has also frequently seen accusations of possible rigging of the wheel. The notion that a casino is rigging a roulette game is unlikely since the wheels are frequently checked and balanced to ensure fairness in an even mixture of outcomes. In addition to this, casino security is frequently watching all games with a particular emphasis on roulette since this game is prone more towards internal rigging than player rigging.
The odds are ultimately an even balance for wins and losses. Since this can be a very high-stakes game, losses have to be expected when a player enters into a game of roulette.
The Verdict: Casino Rigging Is Ultimately a Grey Area
Casinos and gambling, in general, make no illusions that the point of the game is to spend money–which is, in turn, rewarded as well if a player is lucky or skillfull. Responsible gaming in Las Vegas casinos should be practiced with the knowledge that you have money to spend, which will prevent any ill-feelings if you start to lose. Casino rigging is real, although this is mostly delegated to the history books nowadays.
The notion that “the house always wins” is based on expenditure that casinos seek to acquire from winners to break even. It is an ethical dilemma, but not illegal; it is just part of the culture of Las Vegas gaming.
If a person has a gambling addiction, can it possibly be the fault of the casino that they are enabling this addiction? Ultimately, no, each and every player that enters into a casino is already an adult; therefore, the risks should be well-established.
The possibility of a Las Vegas casino rigging games is always going to be a debated issue. There is no direct answer to the question in terms of yes and no. The prospect of an entire casino being in on a forced rigging of a game is a bit outlandish to consider. On the flip side, there have been Las Vegas officials and casino employees who have rigged games in the past in criminal enterprises.
There are incidents of rigging just as there are players that cheat at games in Las Vegas casinos. Do casinos in Las Vegas want to have the advantage in games? Sure, this is part of commerce.
Do Las Vegas casinos ever close? Find the answer in our article here.
So by a strict legal definition, Las Vegas casinos do not rig their games. Having a house advantage is different from the act of committing a crime, for which the State of Nevada has severe penalties. Games like slot machines and roulette are frequently accused of being rigged, but this is just part of their addictive allure. Just because a player suffers a loss, that doesn’t mean that the casino is manipulating the results.
In Las Vegas, you win some, and you lose some. This is a motto that every player should live by.