Millions of dollars are lost to scammers looking to cheat the system and get rich quick at Las Vegas casinos annually, but few have been as successful as Dennis Nikrasch. Using sophisticated methods to rig slot machines, Nikrasch and his cohorts managed to cheat some of Vegas’ most renowned casinos out of a speculated $16 million dollars in jackpots for over 20 years.

Nikrasch began his life as a professional scammer sometime in the 1970’s. Back then slot machines used mechanical reels. Nikrasch and his team would rig the machines, and then cheat the machine out of payouts using slug coins. The law eventually caught up with Nikrasch. Convicted in 1988 for attempting to scam a jackpot of $10 million, he served five years in prison before being released on parole.

Instead of throwing in the towel and going straight, Nikrasch evolved with the technological advances within the casino gaming industry. He figured out a sophisticated method of duplicating the computer chips within the machines. Once Nikrasch found a reliable system, using his own home slot machine he purchased on the black market, he assembled his team. He found an associate that was able to make him duplicate keys to the machines, in order to open them and insert his rigged circuit. Several people would be required to be on lookout duty during this delicate operation. People acting as blockers were also required, in order to avoid detection from strategically place security cameras.

After Nikrasch had successfully installed the circuit board, he would leave the casino and members of his team would monitor the machines for a set amount of time. Once the time was right, one of Nikrasch’s cohorts would then play on the machine. Nikrasch would then divide the money up between himself and his team members.

Nikrasch may have been undeniably cleaver in his methods, but greed would lead to his ultimate demise. Attempting to win a $17 million jackpot, Nikrasch’s team set him up and in 1998 he would be once again sent to prison. After being interviewed by the FBI, he agreed to reveal some of his secrets as part of a plea bargain. He was released from prison in 2004, and remains blacklisted from all casinos.

Casinos may have some of the most sophisticated security in the world, but there are always those that exist that manage to beat the odds. Nikrasch is one of many examples of people that managed to overcome the many challenges faced in such a risky endeavor. There’s an excellent chance that Nikrasch may have been able to go on for years pulling his scam and avoiding detection from law enforcement had he not been backstabbed by his own team.