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Updated Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 10:01 PM

Casino customers' personal data stolen

By Kate Martin
Skagit Valley Herald

BOW, Skagit Valley — Some customers of Skagit Valley Casino Resort can qualify for credit-report monitoring after their personal information was stolen from one of the casino's vendors.

The unencrypted customer information was stolen from a Bally Technologies software engineer's home office, said Harry Chesnin, general counsel for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe. The tribe owns and operates Skagit Valley Casino Resort.

Information was sent to Bally to be tested with new technology, he said. That information is usually encrypted with a computer program, Chesnin said, but some of the information was not encrypted.

In late October, the engineer's apartment in the Las Vegas area was broken into. Computers, jewelry and televisions were stolen, as was the unencrypted information, Chesnin said.

The thieves were more than likely after the items and not the information, he said. Computers would have had their hard drives wiped before an illicit sale to prevent tracking the information back to the theft, he said.

The Skagit Valley Casino did not learn of the theft until Nov. 29, a month after it occurred. Last week the casino sent a letter to customers who may have been impacted.

"Even though we haven't had any indication that there's been any kind of problem or breech, we thought we had better alert some of our customers," Chesnin said. "We're always mindful of security issues. Quite frankly, we have to rely on Bally's because they have the technology and it was a lapse on their part. I'm fairly sure they learned their lesson as well."

Bally has not informed the Skagit Valley Casino if any information from other casinos was stolen, Chesnin said. The theft was reported to police in the Las Vegas area.

Repeated calls to Bally officials were not returned Thursday and Friday.

The Bally Technologies website says the company is the oldest slot-machine manufacturing company in the world and was founded in 1932. Bally (BYI) is also the first gaming company to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The company, based in Las Vegas, has 25 offices around the world and employs about 2,800 people.

The casino's letter to customers suggests that people monitor their credit reports for questionable activity. The casino also sent letters to customers with a free one-year membership to protect their information.


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