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Nevada Gaming Regulator Charged In $100,000 Keno Scam

January 20, 1995 GMT

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A Nevada gaming regulator was arrested with another man on charges of hitting a $100,000 keno jackpot using a highly confidential computer code.

Ronald D. Harris was fired as an electronics expert for the Nevada Gaming Control Board after his arrest Sunday in the alleged scam at Bally’s Park Place Casino Hotel.

Harris was accused of using the ``source code″ for the program that runs the keno game at Bally’s and using a duplicate processing chip to predict what numbers were likely to be selected by the computer, said State Police spokesman John Hagerty.

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The other man arrested, Reid E. McNeal, purchased 10 keno tickets for $10 each, choosing eight numbers on each of the tickets. All eight numbers on one of his tickets matched and he won the casino’s largest jackpot ever.

Casino officials grew suspicious when McNeal tried to collect his winnings in cash and had no identification. McNeal led them to Harris when state troopers accompanied McNeal to his hotel room to get some identification and they saw Harris with a portable computer and literature about gaming machines and keno, authorities said.

Codes like the one Harris had are so confidential that even casinos buying gaming computer programs don’t have access to them. Regulators require manufacturers to give them source codes so they can verify that programs do what the manufacturer says they do.

The odds of correctly picking eight numbers in keno are 230,000-to-1, said Ron Mach, vice president of engineering for Imagineering Systems Inc. of Reno, Nev., which makes the game.

Harris was arrested in Las Vegas on charges of larceny and being a fugitive from justice. He remained in jail in Las Vegas on Thursday. McNeal was in jail in Atlantic City in lieu of $50,000 bail on charges of criminal attempt, conspiracy and computer theft.

Harris was one of only five people who review electronic games like keno for the Nevada gaming board, said board Chairman Bill Bible.

``Because of this incident we are going to do a review to check our internal control procedures to see if they are adequate or need strengthening,″ Bible said.