This is How a Rigged 1920’s Roulette Table Works

A rigged roulette table being created
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A video showing how a rigged 1920s roulette table worked has exposed the secrets of gang-run casinos in prohibition era Chicago.

The rigged roulette wheel is likely to have once been owned by Al Capone, seeing as he was in charge of all the casinos in Chicago at the time.

How Does It Work?

The cheat feature was uncovered by restoration experts at The Games Room Company when they were trying refurbish the roulette table and bring it back to its former glory.

Evidence was discovered proving that the table had been rigged to give a severe advantage to the house. This was allegedly common during the Prohibition era when gangsters ruled the cities.

On this particular table, the leg that is located directly beneath the roulette table was hollowed out. Inside the leg, two battery packs had been placed on top of each other. These were then sealed into the leg.

old 1930s antique batteries
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Newspapers had been used to pack the batteries in so they would not move within the leg. It is through these newspapers that the restoration team was able to date the table.

So how were these batteries used to rig the table? They were a single part of an electrical circuit.

The croupier was able to press a button on the side of the table. This button was disguised as a screw. When the button was pressed, the electrical circuit was triggered and it made a pin appear from out of the side of the roulette wheel.

This would then hit the ball and the ball would be knocked off its rhythm and drop into the section of the table that the croupier wanted it to land in.

Rigging Was Rife

This discovery has confirmed what many believed was true – that roulette tables during the gangster-dominated Prohibition era were rigged.

Al Capone was leader of the notorious “Chicago Outfit” during the 1920s in Chicago. Therefore, it is extremely likely that Capone had ordered for tables to be rigged to increase his gambling revenues.

An image of Al Capone smoking a cigar
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The practice of rigged roulette wheels can be traced back to 1873. One British engineer by the name of Joseph Jaggers decided to carry out a number of tests on a Monte Carlo casino.

Jaggers suspected that rigged wheels were in use and, sure enough, after recording the results of the wheels in use he proved that the wheels were biased.

Jaggers proceeded to take advantage of this knowledge. He earned $300,000 over the course of four days before the casino realised he had rumbled their ploy.

In retaliation, the casino switched the wheels that Jaggers was using for unbiased wheels and moved the rigged wheels to another location.

Jaggers searched for the scratched wheel and once again went on a winning streak that saw him win $450,000 and almost bankrupt the casino. It remains one of the great casino win stories of all-time.

Are Roulette Wheels Rigged Today?

Regulation and legalities are far more widely enforced nowadays than they were in the 1920s. Advanced technology and independent scrutiny has made it almost impossible for casinos, both online and land-based, to use rigged roulette wheels.

A typical example of a standard roulette wheel
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That’s not to say the practice isn’t still going on today. There will always be a rogue element where people that can cheat will cheat. Thankfully, we live in an age where gambling authorities and jurisdictions keep a close eye on the manner in which casinos do their business.