GAMBLING: How to Hit the Jackpot

The casino operators in the Carson City-Reno-Lake Tahoe area were gnawing the manicured arcs right off their well-kept fingernails. For neither the first nor the last time in the history of Nevada, the only state in the U.S. where gambling is legal in nearly all its forms (prohibited: dog racing, jai alai), an organized band had figured out a way to fulfill the fondest dream of hundreds of thousands of lemon-loathing laymen: hitting the jackpot on the slot machine, otherwise known as the one-armed bandit.

Bandit-beating is not the simple business it once was. In the early days of the slots,...