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French Cigarette Pack Roulette Scam

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One of the most famous roulette scams of all time took place in France in the seventies. It involved a man with a keen interest in miniature radios, his gorgeous sister Monique Laurent and her husband. They made up what is now known as the French Cigarette Pack Team, and they took the Casino Deauville, to the cleaners to the tune of over 5 million French Francs before being caught red handed by police and the owners of the casino. They would have got away with it too, if it hadn’t been for those pesky kids! (to coin a phrase from Scooby Doo).

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The scam went down on the Normandy Coast near Le Havre in the summer of 1973. The radio whizz was also a roulette croupier at the Casino Deauville (another inside job I hear you say), and he hid a transmitter into a pack of Marlboros, and then inserted a tiny receiver into a roulette ball that he then bought to his table. With a quick sleight of hand, the tracker ball was in play. The system was in part by the Shannon and Thorpe roulette exploits in the 60s.

His sister- the attractive girl with the pack of Marlboros, would then activate the scam by pressing a button on the cigarette pack as the ball was spinning around the rim of the wheel, which sent the balll into a predictable arc that would finish with it landing in a sets of 6 numbers. The system wasn’t 100% accurate, but it was anough to tilt the odds in the team’s favour. Meanwhile, the brother-in-law, her husband, would be making the bets and clearing up. In one week they made 5 million francs on the table.

Of course, when so much money is being made on one table, the casino owners were quick to investigate. They figured that the wheel was biased, so they had it stripped down and checked by the manufacturer’s service team. When they could not find any flaws, they turned their attention to the dealer but could not spot any obvious dealer signature. The guy appeared to be launching the ball at random and following the book to the letter.

The team’s downfall came when the owner of the casino developed a fixation on the good looking sister. He would watch her day after day- a man obsessed with her beauty. He suddenly began to wonder why she was always in the vicinity when the table was having a bad day. She only made a few bets, but she always seemed to be there when that particular table made big losses. Maybe she was connected somehow?

Acting on his hunch, the owner had an anti-fraud team come in and check the casino for bugs or radio communication, discovered the scam and arranged for the Gendarmerie Nationale in Deauville to catch the team red handed. The police confiscated the pack, discovered the transmitter and arrested the team.