Gaming authorities in Nevada are on the lookout for people using a new card-counting application for the iPhone, while emergency room physicians are reportedly on the lookout for a sudden spike in the number of people coming to the hospital with broken legs.
Nevada authorities were tipped off to the existence of the software by the California Bureau of Gambling Control after operators of a casino in northern California discovered players using the program. Card counting itself isn't illegal but using a device like the iPhone to do it is a felony under Nevada law, according to Randy Sayre of the Gaming Control Board. A memo sent to casinos last week by the Gaming Control Board said the software "calculates the true count and does it significantly more accurately."
The software uses four separate strategies for card counting and also operates in "stealth mode" with the phone's screen turned off. According to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the program can be run "effortlessly without detection as long as the user knows where the keys are."
The program will run on both the iPhone and the iPod Touch, which may lead to a review of policies regarding the use of electronic devices in casinos. Harrah's Entertainment currently bans cellphones at the World Series of Poker, but MP3 players including iPods are allowed. In Las Vegas, regulators did away with the ban on cellphones inside race and sports books last year, leaving individual operators to determine policies regarding the use of electronic devices at the tables.
There haven't yet been any reports of the software being used to cheat in Nevada, and Sayre would like to keep it that way. "We wanted to put the industry on notice to be aware this device is out there," he said. It's a bit of a touchy subject in Vegas and casino staff will be on the lookout for trouble so here's some free advice for iPhone owners, whether you're cheating or not: If you enjoy walking without a limp, maybe you should just leave the thing in your hotel room.