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Ask the Slot Expert: Does a Slot Machine Know How Many Coins I've Played?12 December 2012
By John Robison, Slot Expert™
Thanks for the kind words.
I may have lapsed a few times, but I've tried to be careful to say that the RNG does not know how many coins have been played, not that the software running the slot machine does not know. In fact, some jurisdictions have regulations explicitly stating that the RNG cannot be affected by the number of coins played.
The software running the machine, of course, has to know how many coins you played. The software has to report it to the slot club system and to the casino's slot accounting system. The software also uses the number of coins played to determine whether the combination on the payline is a winning combination -- Did you play enough coins to activate the payline? If the machine is a Buy-A-Pay, did you play enough coins to active the combination? If you have a winning combination, the software then uses the number of coins played to determine who much to pay you.
The number of coins played affects many aspects of a machine, but the one thing it has no influence over whatsoever are the numbers generated by the RNG function.
Let's look at a short-coin play on a progressive. The player puts in one coin, hits the spin button and -- believe it or not -- three jackpot symbols land on the payline. The software determines that the combination is a winning combination. Then it looks at the number of coins played to determine how much the player won. It has an internal table that tells it that three jackpot symbols with one coin played pays, say, 1000 coins. If the player had played full-coin, it would send a message to the progressive controller to let the controller know that it hit the jackpot. Instead, it adds 1000 credits to the meter and gives the player an electronic raspberry for playing short-coin on a progressive machine. (Okay, it doesn't do that last part.)
The controller only cares when someone wins the progressive. It doesn't care about players hitting the combination but not winning the progressive because they played short coin. Those short-coin jackpot hits don't have any affect on when the progressive will be won. The only affect they have is on the amount of the progressive -- increasing it like any other spin on the machine.
It would be illegal for a progressive system to reset the progressive amount without having awarded the progressive to a player. The amount above the reset amount came from the players and belongs to the players. In many, if not all, jurisdictions, casinos can't just shut off a progressive. They either have to wait until someone hits the progressive or they have to move the portion of the progressive above the reset amount to another progressive system. It has to go to a player, not the casino.
Jackpots for all,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.