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Casinos Warned About Card-Counting iPhone Application

February 17, 2009

A card-counting iPhone application designed to help players win at blackjack is being banned from Las Vegas casinos, the AFP reported.

Casino operators are being alerted to stay on the lookout for patrons who may be using the application while sitting at the tables, Nevada State gaming control officials said.

“The program calculates the true count and does it significantly more accurately,” according to a Gaming Control Board memorandum sent to casino operators last week warning of the electronic device.

An Indian casino Northern California discovered customers using the program and alerted the California Bureau of Gambling Control.

Randall Sayre, a Nevada gaming control board member, said once the program is installed on the phone through the iTunes website it can make counting cards easy.

Sayre said although card counting is not illegal in Nevada casinos, using a device to aid in the counting of cards is considered a felony under Nevada laws governing cheating.

He wrote in letter to casino operators earlier this month: “When the program is used in the ‘Stealth Mode’ the screen of the phone will remain shut off, and as long as the user knows where the keys are located the program can be run effortlessly without detection.”

The application allows users to tap a virtual button on the screen each time a card 10 or higher is turned up and tap a different button for lower-value cards, continually updating a “true count,” which can provide feedback regarding chances of winning by getting cards with total values that are closest to 21 points without exceeding that amount.

“We’re looking at this internally and this is an issue that needed to be in the public domain,” Sayre said.

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