Introduced in 1976, slot machines quickly gained popularity amongst the gambling public and in due course, as with any gaming device, people followed with ideas to wrest money from them illegally. Kind of along the lines of paying, without really playing.
He certainly was not the first, but probably is the most famous and first person who gained infamy for robbing casinos’ slot machines across the entire breadth of the United States. His name is Tommy Glenn Carmichael and in 1980 the idea for his first invention to bilk slots, his game of choice was born.
Carmichael, at age 30, was asked to look at a friend Ray Ming’s version of a slot machine, when he noticed it had a top-bottom joint. That’s when Carmichael decided to close his repair shop in Tulsa and spend his days in Vegas, stealing coins from slots with his new invention. It worked for five years until he was finally arrested and sentenced to five years in prison, but this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Upon his release from prison, Carmichael realized technology had stepped up and he must respond accordingly. That’s when he created the Monkey Paw, which was composed of a spring and guitar wire inserted into the payout slot, and was slid around until the spring tripped that dispensed coins. But it didn’t stop there.
Casinos were adding more and more computer technology to slot machines, so Carmichael had to reinvent his game yet again. This time it was the Light Wand. All it did was baffle the sensors now used to control how and when payouts were allocated when it was shone upon them. The Light Wand worked so well, Carmichael was soon peddling it to other thieves, but was caught by authorities in 1996 for using the wand. Although he was not arrested at time, within four years he received his second prison sentence and had his high rolling life style come to a close.
These days Carmichael is retired and works with some casinos as a consultant for anti-cheating devices. Now age 60, he also owns a repair shop back in Tulsa and doesn’t seem to regret is on blacklisted from the State of Nevada. Then again why would he be? The man already got everything he needed. By many he is considered one of the top five casino hustlers of all time and definitely is forever linked to slot machines and ways to cheat them.