There Will Be Sniffing... In Vegas

If you know me through this blog, then you know that I like to sniff WiFi networks. If you know me through just about anywhere else, then you know that I love sports. Put those two together and you'll see why I am so excited about an article in today's New York Times chronicling the use of WiFi terminals to place bets at Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Matt Villano, a technology writer for the New York Times, wrote a piece today on how Las Vegas sportsbooks are using both RFID and WiFi to offer sports bettors more opportunities for action (and by "action", I mean "losses of money and/or spouse").

I encourage you all to check out the article in it's entirety, but the basic gist is that a company named Cantor Gaming has created little terminals slightly larger than an iPhone that allow gamblers to make wagers on a touch screen while they are inside the casino. Cantor addresses two of the problems that might first come to mind with this technology ("How do you make sure they're inside the casino?" and "How do you make sure only the registered bettor is making the plays?") by using local access WiFi for communications to the terminal and an RFID tag as sort of an ignition key to allow the terminals to work.

My initial reaction here is that this sounds like a superb use of WiFi. Anyone who's ever placed a bet at a Las Vegas sportsbook knows that the second-most annoying thing you have to deal with is the long lines and confusing numbering system that come with cash wagering (the most annoying thing is Chad Millman of These little terminals should solve both of those problems for customers while allowing for more revenue for sportsbooks. A true win-win. (Ahh, reminds me of the old Accenture days.)

As luck would have it, I will be in Las Vegas next weekend, so I am now planning to head over to the Palazzo for a little bit of sniffing. I don't know how easy it'll be to use my laptop in the sportsbook, but I'll find some way to make this happen and then report back on what I see.

The article states that Cantor Gaming uses WiFi channels that are rarely used as a security measure. which is both reassuring and worrying. If they're using 5 GHz channels, then that's good because it should reduce the likelihood of interference. If they're relying on the fact that they're on those channels to provide security by obscurity (and therefore eschewing WPA/WPA2), then that's bad.

The only bad news about this article is that it creates even more work for me. I still owe you guys a piece on sniffing the Verizon MiFi portable hotspot and I still need to give a deeper look at AirMagnet with the SR71-USB dual-band 802.11n adapter. Plus, I got word from CACE technologies that I can do a profile on the AirPcap NX using Wireshark with CACE Pilot, so I have to get that together soon as well. I guess the good news is that at least I'll be occupied during my usual time off over the holidays.


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