Peppermill agrees to $1 million fine for spying on competition |

Peppermill agrees to $1 million fine for spying on competition

The Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno has agreed to pay a $1 million fine to settle a complaint charging it spied on several competing casinos.

The complaint, filed Feb. 13, says Peppermill analyst Ryan Tors used a slot machine “reset key” to access confidential information inside several Grand Sierra Resort slot machines.

A reset key enables the user to access settings ranging from sound and game configuration to play history and the theoretical hold percentage settings inside the machines. The complaint indicates that Tors was collecting information on the hold percentages set inside competition slot machines.

Using that key, a person also could change the hold percentage in a machine, but the complaint says there is no evidence Tors did that.

He was detained by Grand Sierra security after being caught accessing the machines July 12, and the Gaming Control Board was notified.

According to the complaint, the subsequent investigation found Tors did the same at 10 casinos and that Peppermill management “knew of, approved of and directed Mr. Tors’ conduct of obtaining theoretical hold percentage information from the slow machines of other casinos.”

Accessing the internal settings of a competitor’s slot machines is a major violation of Nevada gaming laws and Gaming Control Board regulations.

The complaint says other victims include the Eldorado, Circus Circus, Siena and Atlantis casinos in Reno as well as smaller casinos in Sun Valley, Sparks and Wendover.

Peppermill officials, in a stipulation that will be presented to the Nevada Gaming Commission for approval, admitted all of the allegations. The stipulation was signed by Peppermill President William Paganetti Jr., as well as all three members of the control board.

It states that there is no evidence Tors changed the hold percentages in any slots or altered their operations in any way but that, if any evidence is found to the contrary, it will be grounds for another complaint.

The $1 million fine must be paid on or before the date the stipulation is accepted by the Gaming Commission.