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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: What is pay-to-meter for slot jackpots?

29 May 2019

Question: I just was reading last week's column about the large voucher at Pimlico. The whole story they tell sounds fishy to me. I think there's something in there that you weren't being told, and it was funny that they so quickly contacted you so that you could have a column out just four days after it allegedly happened.

Nevertheless, there was one part of your answer that intrigued me more than the premise they presented you. You said that in lieu of a hand pay, they could have requested that they be "paid to the meter"? I never heard of that. Now I have rarely been hand paid, but I have seen many hand pays and that never seemed to be an option. In fact, a few years back, my wife worked on the Grand Victoria in Elgin, IL and actually did hand pays. And she says they were required to pay it by hand.

Is this something different by jurisdiction, or is it somewhat new, or what?

Answer: The part that troubled me about last week's story was having the wrong data on the ticket, but more on that with the next email in today's column.

Today I was playing video poker one machine away from a lady. I heard the jackpot music playing about 10 minutes after I sat down. Of course, I had to surreptitiously sneak a peek at what she had hit. I could see that she had won $2,000 for a four-of-a-kind and that she was playing $5. I couldn't tell what pay table she was playing. She continued playing after her hand pay.

Her credit meter must have run low because she had to feed the machine again. And again. And again. Then she hit another four-of-a-kind. And she had to feed that hand pay back into the machine when her credits ran low again.

A more extreme example. A couple behind me was playing a $25 machine. You can spend a lot of time feeding hundreds into that machine, especially if you don't hit many hands. They had a stack of hundreds ready to be fed into the machine. The hundreds they got from each hand pay got added to the stack to be put back into the machine.

It would have been much easier for these players if their hand pays were just added to their credit meters — which is what happened at another casino. Again, on a high-denomination machine, a man hit a hand pay. After he signed the IRS paperwork, the slot personnel entered some magic codes into the machine and the value of his jackpot was added to his credit meter instead of being paid by hand.

I don't know whether other jurisdictions allow "pay-to-meter," but it is an option that casinos in Las Vegas may offer to high-denomination players.


Question: I read the email about the misprinted slot ticket and wanted to let you know I had a similar incident.

I was playing in a casino in Vegas and put a $20 bill into a machine. After playing for a little while, I was up to $34 so I decided to cash out. When the ticket printed it had the correct amount but the date printed on the ticket was not even close to the date I was playing. It was three years earlier and not even the same month or day.

I thought that maybe just the printed part of the ticket was incorrect and the bar code might work, so I took it to a ticket redemption machine but, of course, no luck. I then took the ticket to the cashier and explained what happened and he called someone else who then took the ticket and information about what machine I was playing and told me to wait. Well, the wait turned out to be close to an hour, but I did get my $34.

Answer: Wow. Many machines here in Las Vegas have a sticker warning players that it is their responsibility to ensure that the amount on the ticket matches what they cashed out. I don't know if there were problems with misprints in the early days of tickets. In any case, I've never checked the date and time printed on a ticket.

Just today one of my slot-floor friends told me a story about a player who cashed out about $30 and then forgot to take the ticket. He then put his card into the machine next to the one I was playing. He gets a completely different menu than the one I get! He pressed one of the icons on the screen to go to the ticket log on the machine. He showed me how the machine maintains a log of the tickets it has printed and how the players card number is stored along with the other ticket data when a player cashes out with a card inserted. (Just a reminder: Always cash out before removing your card.)

From what I understand, the date and time printed on a ticket is provided by the slot machine, not the central server. I suppose the date and time on your machine were not correct and the bogus date and time were printed on your ticket and sent to the server to be stored in the ticket database. (Remember when it was a big deal to get a real-time clock board for your PC so you didn't have to enter the current date/time each time you booted it up.) And maybe the ticket was considered expired because the date was so long ago.

In any case, the machine's ticket log should show the your ticket was printed recently and the ticket database should have a timestamp on the record showing when it was added to the database. The casino had to check the records to ensure that the ticket was recently printed despite the date on it.

At least you got your money. The player who left the ticket behind was not so lucky.


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