If we said the name Tommy Glenn Carmichael to you, it’s likely you would look puzzled. You probably haven’t heard of this guy before. In fact, it’s likely many people haven’t. But he is one of the most famous casino cheats and scammers in the whole of Las Vegas history! Anyone familiar with the history of casino scamming will probably be familiar with his name.
Carmichael was born in the 1950s and grew up in Oklahoma. As an adult, he spent much of his life scamming millions of dollars from Vegas casinos. And, the most amazing thing is that this was all pretty recent. It wasn't like the old days of the mob where technology was limited, and scamming casinos would have been easier.
The story goes that Tommy, facing his third divorce, and the failure of his business, was at his lowest ebb. It was then that a friend gave him a mini slot machine and a cheater's tool. This was to be the beginning of a new chapter in Carmichael’s life, one that would see him ripping off casinos!
After learning the basics, Tommy hit some of the casinos in Vegas and earned more than $10,000 over one weekend. The problem was, as is often the case with these things, Tommy got greedy, and he got sloppy. Over the next few years, he won several million in total from Vegas casinos. You’d think this would be the ideal opportunity to lay low for a while, or, at least, look at going straight again. But he didn't.
As the years progresses, the casino technology became more advanced. Not quite as advanced as the casino tech nowadays, where you have bitcoin gambling and fingerprint software, but enough to catch on to what Tommy was doing. They became aware of tools like the one Carmichael was using and started to update their machines accordingly. This made it much more difficult for Tommy to manipulate the mechanics of the slot machines, so he had to stay in smaller establishments. This made him stick out like a sore thumb, and he was eventually arrested.
In prison, he met Michael Balsamo, and the two formed a partnership targeting Vegas casinos. They began to develop more advanced techniques, such as The Monkey Paw and The Light Wand. Having knowledge of the inner workings of the machines put Carmichael in an advantageous position moving forward. Tommy also sold many of these devices to other would-be con artists on the black market.
After a while, and a lot of winnings, he took a break from Vegas and went on some cruises, but he couldn't stay away. Eventually, he formed a group of con artists, and they all set to work scamming the Vegas casinos big time. The group had great success for around four years before things started to go wrong.
At the end of 1996, the crew was attempting to shakedown another couple of casinos, newly installed CCTV meant that Tommy was caught on camera. He had multiple charges against him, but he served just shy of a year in jail. Since then he seems to have learned from his mistakes and has teamed up with the Nevada Gaming Commission to work on anti-cheating devices.
He has also been blacklisted, meaning he is never able to set foot in a Vegas casino again!