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Best of John Robison

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Help for a denied jackpot

26 October 2009

Hello John,

I would like some advice on what to do. My mother was playing on a slot machine yesterday. A dollar machine…betting max bet (so it was $3 a play ). She hit a big jackpot…while betting the max…she couldn't believe it…needless to say overwhelmed with joy and was tearing up…a large crowd of people gather behind her saying "you won you won...its a big one"… she waited for the guy to come over to the machine…he opened it op and told her to press some buttons… (why I don't know) and then said you didn't win and the machine malfunctioned. They told gave her 29 dollars back plus 80…and said that she had to take this or nothing…???????? Why???? She didn't know what to do… her emotions were running wild… she didn't think to protect herself like write down the slot # or pull out her camera to take a picture of the slot symbols all lined up perfectly … or ask any people that gathered around for their numbers to use as witnesses …

What can we to do fight this??????? I've been reading on the internet that this is not the first time casinos are claiming a malfunction and yanking the payout … I've printed them out.

What would you suggest our next step be????? Can you help us in anyway?????

Thank you.

You deserve an explanation for why the jackpot was denied. It's better for public relations than the take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum you say your mother was given.

I think your next step is to file a complaint with your local gaming commission. You can also send a copy to your governor. Include as much detail as you can: e.g., the name of the machine, the machine's location in the casino (because you don't have the serial number), the time of day, the combination that landed on the payline, what that combination is worth, how much you were paid, etc.

It's true that you can find many reports of casinos denying jackpots and claiming that the machines in question malfunctioned. What you don't find are reports of the number of jackpots those same casinos paid that day because there were no irregularities with the machines that awarded the jackpots. Denied jackpots are truly rare events. Moreover, every news account of a denied jackpot seems to end with a warning that you can't be sure you will actually get paid anything the next time you hit a jackpot at the casino that denied the jackpot.

I've never been denied a jackpot, but I've been privy to the details of a few denied jackpots. In each case, one or more of the requirements for a valid jackpot were not met. Those requirements are: The machine must be in game mode; the player must have made a valid bet; and the RNG must have chosen a jackpot combination.

What lands on the payline doesn't legally determine what you've won. The combination chosen by the RNG does. The combination on the payline should match what the RNG chose. If it doesn't, the RNG rules. That said, I think the casino should pay the jackpot anyway because players don't have access to the output from the RNG. The only display of a result we have is what we see on the reels.

See this Saturday's article by Larry Mak for more advice on dealing with denied jackpots.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


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

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