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Ask the Slot Expert: Am I under casino surveillance?

13 February 2019

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Have you ever noticed how some ticket redemption machines give you the bills first and then the change, and others give you the change first and then the bills?

A couple of days ago I used a machine to redeem a ticket for $300.38. This machine gives coins first then bills. I usually count the bills and the change before leaving the machine to verify that it gave me the correct amount. This time, after the coin dropping stopped, I took a quick look at what was in the tray. I saw some silver and some copper and figured that it looked right. I scooped up the coins and put them in my pocket.

Then the machine dispensed the bills. I counted them, of course. As I was putting the bills in my wallet, the machine whirred again and dropped a quarter into the coin tray. Now I counted the change and discovered that the machine had given me only 13 cents in the first round.

If I had had fewer bills to count, I could very well have been away from the machine by the time it dropped the quarter it owed me.

I've never seen a machine take such a long time to drop all the coins. I've seen a small delay between the denominations, but never one so long that the machine had time to do the bills. In fact, I thought preparing the bills and coins were consecutive operations and that the machine would only move on to the second after it had finished the first. I didn't know the machine could process both concurrently.

(A quick digression: Some machines have a notice stating that it is the player's responsibility to verify that the amount of the ticket matches the amount they cashed out. Does anyone know the reason for this notice? Were there problems in the early days of ticket systems that caused the amount printed on the ticket to sometimes not be correct?)

The lesson learned from this incident: Always count the money dispensed by a ticket redemption machine.


Every once in a (rare) while, a machine gives you a nice hit on your first play, sort of like a thank you for playing it.

I liked playing Twin Fire when it was in the casinos. This machine combines Quick Hit with Hot Shot. You can win the progressives either by getting a number of Quick Hit symbols on the screen in the base game, or by hitting the top jackpots in the various Bally games that you can play in the "play a Bally game" Hot Shot bonus.

I saw a new version of Twin Fire, Twin Fire Frenzy, a couple of weeks ago. This machine has a sixth, larger reel on the right. In addition to a lot of blanks, this reel has symbols for Quick Hit, various Bally games, and various multiplier amounts that increase what you win on line pays. I'll have to give this machine a try, I thought — the next time there's a multiplier or a promotion to cut down on the house edge.

Well, there was a promotion two weeks ago and it was my time to give the machine a try. On my very first spin, five Quick Hit symbols landed on the screen and I won $39.77. On my second spin, five Quick Hit symbols landed appeared on the screen again and 5x landed on the extra reel. The progressive had reset to $20, so I won $100, right?

No. The multiplier is for line pays only. The Quick hit is a scatter pay. I won $20.03, still not bad. The machine took those winnings back plus a little bit more, so I ended with a small loss, but it was a good start.

I made up for that loss the next time I played the machine. Nothing much happened until I won some free spins in the bonus game. I won a couple of hundred dollars. That was enough to offset what I lost playing Singin' in the Rain earlier.

There was a lot of rain when I was playing that machine and not much singing.


Question: I've enjoyed playing slots for a lot of years now so whenever I travel I always seek out a casino close to me to enjoy some play. Something happened quite a few years ago while in Colorado, and again recently at the Winstar in Oklahoma, that has me a little baffled. I was wondering if you might be able to shed some light.

I'll be playing a machine and someone, presumably a casino employee, walks by me and snaps my picture, then quickly walks away before I realize what happened. When I question casino managers about it, they claim they have no idea.

Has this ever happened to you? Should I be concerned?

Answer: I get nervous every time a casino employee approaches me unbidden. I even get a little anxious when they come by with the snack basket in the High Limit room.

The reason I'm a little jumpy is because one casino chain has put me in limbo. I suddenly couldn't log in to its website with the password I know I used. I created a support ticket and the slot department at my primary casino in the chain called me. The lady I spoke with went through the checklist for handling login problems, but nothing worked. She said they would have to dig deeper.

A day or so later the slot director at the casino called me. He said, "You didn't do anything wrong. You didn't do anything immoral or illegal. But you know how to work our system and you worked it too well." One of the actions the chain takes is to revoke your website access.

I think the reason they revoke the website access for people in my position is so we don't try to correct our mailing and email addresses. They had changed my email address to "donotupdate" at the chain's domain. I can't tell you how I know that, but I can tell you about my mailing address.

One of the booth reps said she wanted to verify my mailing address. She read off an address that I recognized as the address for the chain's corporate headquarters. I don't remember what happened after that, but it doesn't matter. She wouldn't have been able to change my address anyway because I have a credit line at that casino so all changes to my account have to be done by the credit office. Credit must maintain a separate mailing address from marketing because they've been able to track me down every time I've owed them money.

The slot director went on to say that I'm welcome to play at any of the casinos in the chain. He said that no one will ever approach me in the casino. They're just not going to send the offers they used to send me.

I would really like to know if there's anything that pops up on the rep's screen when they pull up my account. I've had to go to the booth the past two days to get kiosk vouchers that the kiosk ate reprinted. Each time the rep stared at the screen and seemed to read a novella before asking me to repeat my request.

Occasionally a friend would suggest that we meet up at one of the casinos in the chain for a multiplier day. I'd have to say that it was not a multiplier day for me. I don't get offers anymore.

I describe my situation this way: If it ain't on the marquee, it ain't for me.

But enough about me.

I'm inclined to believe that it is not the casino taking your picture for two reasons. First, they can capture your face from the surveillance system, so why would they need to hit the casino floor with a Kodak? And second, they'd be pretty inept if they were taking your picture. Haven't they heard of telephoto lenses?

Did you see the news report about the lady who claimed she injured her shoulder at work and then appeared on The Price Is Right and was able to spin the big cash wheel?

I would only be concerned if you are involved in an insurance claim and said you were unable to leave the house.


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

 

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John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots