Peppermill Pays for Slot Spying

The Peppermill Casino in Reno will fork over $1 million in fines to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for spying activities by an employee. He used a slot machine reset key to get info from competitors’ slot machines.

Covert actions since mid-2011

The owners of the Peppermill Casino in Reno, Nevada have agreed to pay $1 million in fines after an employee used a slot machine “reset” key to steal information from competing casinos. Peppermill managers acknowledged that they knew of the employee’s activities and urged him to spy on the competition.

Last July, Peppermill corporate analyst Ryan Tors was discovered using a reset key on several slot machines at the Grand Sierra. By doing so, he was able to access information about the slot machine including play history, hold percentages, event logs and game configuration, reported the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

During its investigation, the board learned that Tors did the same thing at 10 other Northern Nevada casinos, including the Eldorado, Circus Circus Reno, Siena, Atlantis, Rail City in Sparks, and two casinos in Wendover. According to the complaint, Tors had been gathering the information since 2011.

Board members said Peppermill’s actions “constitute a failure to exercise discretion and sound judgment to prevent incidents which might reflect on the repute of the state of Nevada and act as a detriment to the development of the industry.”

Peppermill President William Paganetti signed the settlement agreement.

Control Board technology honcho Jim Barbee said the “2341 key” is commonly used by slot technicians to compile information or reset a game following large jackpots. They do not allow the user to fix a game, however.

“The key gives the technician access the device’s program information,” Barbee said. “The key allows you to read that information. It’s a generic key in the industry.”

Most keys are generic and work on slot machines of all manufacturers, the Review-Journal reported; they can even be purchased on sites such as eBay.

In the complaint, the Nevada Gaming Control Board said the Peppermill operated in “an unsuitable manner.” The privately owned Peppermill is one of Reno’s largest casinos, with 1,600 hotel rooms, an 80,000-square-foot casino, 106,000 square feet of convention space and 10 restaurants.

The fine is the second largest levied on a Nevada gaming company this year. In January, CG Technologies, formerly Cantor Gaming, was fined $5.5 million after a former executive was charged with accepting illegal bets during his time with the company.