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Ask the Slot Expert: May I Claim My Wife's Free Slot Play?

13 March 2013

By John Robison, Slot Expert™


All slots work with RNGs to produce the location of any given symbol on the screen. I was curious how this works in conjunction with the required payout. If the machine MUST pay at least 91% return, how does the system combine the payout requirement with the random component required? Because of the laws of probability, it could occur that the machine gets really hot or really cold for an extended period of time. Does the program recognize the imbalance and adjust the random factor to produce wins or losses to get the machine back into its required payout range?

Also, one of your readers earlier asked about home play for Jackpot Party. You can play this machine on Facebook, Jackpot Party Casino slots application. You have to get up there in levels to open this particular game, but it is available.

Lastly, is there a way to request an audit of machines in the local casino to see if the payout requirement is being met?



Dear Bryan,

Your signature block says you're in Canada, so let me caution you from the start that my answers apply to slot machines in the United States and may or may not apply to those in Canada.

It's true that slots can be hot or cold for a period of time because of the randomness of the outcomes. It's also true that (in the U.S.) it would be illegal for a machine to alter its behavior in any way based on past performance. The odds of hitting any winning combination must be the same on every spin, regardless of how well or poorly a machine has been treating its players.

Fortunately, the machine does not have to take any action and still pay back an amount very close to its long-term payback percentage. I don't know how long "an extended period of time" is, but even a few days is nothing in the total performance of a machine that is available 24/7 for a few years. Those hot and cold streaks end up having as much affect as a drop of food coloring in a swimming pool.

To answer your last question, there is no need to request an audit to verify that the machines in a casino meet the minimum payback requirements. The casino can install only the payback options approved by the local gaming commission. The gaming commission ensures that each machine's long-term payback meets or exceeds the minimum, and both the commission and the casino monitor the machines to ensure they are operating properly and paying back the proper amount.

Jackpots for all,


What I want to do I know isn't right, but I would like your take on how severe the penalty usually is if you get caught. My wife has $95 in free slot play, but she has to work on the days it is valid.

I was wondering how likely it is for me to get caught using her card and free play credits. When I stick my wife's card in the machine, does that send a signal to surveillance to look through the cameras to see if a woman is at that particular machine? I only play the penny machines and never max bet. I have only been to a casino (Harrah's Cherokee) about five times in my life and I have never done this before, but it is really eating at me thinking about losing that $95 worth of free play.

Thanks, Jimmy

Dear Jimmy,

Harrah's has something called Associated Accounts, which let you link two Total Rewards accounts together. If you had Associated Accounts, you would each have separate accounts and separate cards, but you'd be able to access all the rewards from either card. Only certain properties support Associated Accounts.

I don't know Harrah's policy on spouses and players cards in the absence of Associated Accounts. Some casinos don't mind if spouses share one account; others want spouses to have separate accounts. From what I've read online, most Harrah's properties don't care if a spouse plays on the other's card.

How likely is it for you to get caught? Not very. The slot club software will know what games you played and with that the casino could review the surveillance footage to see who actually played the games. But putting in her card won't cause anyone to do a gender check on the person using the card.

My opinion is that you should be able to play the free play -- even if your wife's play earned most or all of it -- because you two are playing from the same bankroll. If you want some peace of mind, though, you can call the casino and ask what its policy is.

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