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Ask the Slot Expert: How Much Should I Tip for a Slot Jackpot?

22 May 2013

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

I noticed at Trump Taj Mahal that the reel-spinning Wheel of Fortune machines have been replaced with video slots. Does that make the jackpot harder to hit?

Are all the progressive jackpots linked to all casinos in AC?


Dear Mike,

I haven't seen the PAR sheet for the video Wheel of Fortune machines in Atlantic City, so I don't know for sure whether the odds of hitting the jackpot have changed. Just because the new machines are video, that doesn't mean that the jackpot will be harder to hit than on the reel-spinning machines. In fact, I would guess that the odds are about the same.

As for your second question, some machines with progressive jackpots are linked in all Atlantic City casinos, some are linked in just one casino company or casino, and the rest are standalone, not linked to anything. The Wheel of Fortune machines, for example, are all part of the same progressive link. Play on one machine increases the jackpot on all. Winning the jackpot on one machine resets the jackpot on all.

Jackpots for all,

In April my wife hit a major jackpot on a USPIN slot machine. She won $9560. How much should she tip the attendant who brought her check and cash? She took $4,000 in cash and the rest in a check.


Dear Vinny,

There's no hard-and-fast rule for how much to tip. Some have suggested 15%, like at a restaurant, but I don't agree. There's usually a difference in the level of service you get from a $25 dinner versus a $250 dinner, so it makes sense to base the tip on the tab. At the slots, however, there's not much difference between the service you get from a $1200 handpay versus a $4000 handpay.

On a $9560 jackpot, I think a tip of $100 to $200 is fine.

Jackpots for all,

Can you explain the difference between "slot machines" and "VLTs"? Casinos always say they have slot machines, while other places where gambling is allowed use the term VLT.

Bob from Canada

The main difference between a slot machine and a VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) is in who owns the machine. If the machine is operated under the auspices of the lottery commission, then it is a VLT. If the machine is operated by a Native American tribe or by private enterprise, then it is a slot machine.

The method used to determine results is sometimes different too. Some VLTs are Class III machines, which determine the results of their spins on their own, independent of any other systems. Some VLTs are Class II machines, which depend on another system to determine the results of their spins. Which method is used depends on the slot-enabling legislation. For example, a lottery may not be allowed to operate an independent slot machine, but it is allowed to offer scratch-off tickets, so its machines are actually electronic versions of a scratch-off ticket.

The bottom line is that a 92% machine is a 92% machine, and it really doesn't matter how results are determined.

In Canada, your VLTs are Class III machines according to Wikipedia.

Jackpots for all,

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