Should It Be Illegal to Exploit a Video Poker Bug and Win Big?

By Jamie Condliffe on at

A Las Vegas District Court judge is currently weighing a big question that you may have opinions on: is exploiting a bug on a casino's video-poker machine illegal or not?

Wired reports that a pair of gamblers, John Kane and Andre Nestor , stumbled upon a bug while playing video poker in a Las Vegas casino. Wired explains:

John Kane had been the final player at machine 50102, and he’d opted for Triple Play Triple Double Bonus Poker, winning three hands at once at the maximum $10 denomination. His last game was still on the screen: three aces, four aces, three aces again. At payout odds of 820-to-1 he’d scored an $8,200 (£5,300) bonanza... [H]e was exploiting a previously-unknown firmware bug present in the Game King and nine other IGT machines – one that had been hidden for seven years.

But the bug only required playing the machine — not fiddling with software or hardware in any way — so it's unclear if it counts as illegal or otherwise. The problem is that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is a little vague when it comes to what counts as hacking and what counts as computer misuse — and that's what the judge is wrestling with. A ruling which declares the incident legal could have an interesting impact on how the CFAA is used in the future, but what do you think? [WIRED via Daring Fireball]