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Best of John Robison

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How can a progressive be guaranteed to hit by a certain amount?

14 May 2007

Who regulates the slots on cruise ships?

The casinos on cruise ships operate in international waters only, so technically no one has jurisdiction over them.

All is not lost, however. Members of Cruise Lines International Association follow CLIA guidelines, which are available on its site (www.cruising.org): "All equipment purchased and installed on cruise vessels will meet the regulatory standards of the Nevada Gaming Control Board or other licensed jurisdiction for payback and internal software."

Machines from the major manufacturers (IGT, WMS, Bally, etc.) are probably as fair as machines in land-based casinos. But because the logic drawers are not sealed, it's possible that the chips may have been changed. But the casino has the odds in its favor. All it has to do is get people to play and it is almost guaranteed to win money in long run. So why cheat?

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hello, Slot Expert!

I am perplexed by two paradoxes.

1) If all combinations are generated by the RNG, how can the payback percentage be set or changed? At some point, it seems, the computer running the slot machine would have to force or inhibit a win to maintain the payback average.

2) Cache Creek Casino advertises a progressive that is guaranteed to hit by a certain value. If the RNG is truly running the show and the machine can't be forced to pay, either remotely or by programming; how is this possible?

Thanks,
Ron

Dear Ron,

1. The RNG does generate all combinations (winning or not), but not all combinations are equally likely. Some combinations, in effect, have more than one number assigned to them. Each number is equally likely to be generated, but because some combinations have more numbers assigned to them, they will appear more frequently. Slot programmers change the long-term payback by changing the number of numbers assigned to each combination. Random Sampling with Replacement ensures that the machines pays back a percentage very close to its long-term payback percentage without any interference by the slot's programming.

In addition, all U.S. jurisdictions require that the result determined by the RNG be displayed. So-called secondary decisions are illegal.

2) In this case, a separate progressive controller is running the progressive. An RNG in the progressive controller is used to determine the dollar amount at which the progressive will be awarded. Each play on the machine increases the progressive meter. When the meter hits the award amount already chosen, the progressive is awarded and the progressive controller uses its RNG to choose a new hit point.

If an RNG was used on each spin to determine whether or not the progressive was hit, there would be as you rightly point out no way to guarantee that the progressive would be hit by a certain amount.

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