CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Megabucks, Are Loud Machines Loose?, RNG and Payback

15 November 2003

Do the Megabucks machines in the California Indian casinos have a connection with Nevada casinos? Are they all linked?

Thanks,
Bob

Dear Bob,

All of the Megabucks machines within a state are linked. There are no Megabucks links crossing state borders. The California Megabucks machines are not linked with Nevada's machines.

There are some wide-area progressives (e.g., Wheel of Fortune, Blondie) that link machines in Native American casinos in different states, though.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


In answer to finding The Price Is Right online:

You can find it on the following site: gamesville.lycos.com.

Thanks for the information.


I wanted to know if you know where you can play the Wheel of Fortune Game online. I can't seem to find it on any game sites.

I also enjoy reading your articles.

Thank you,
Debbie

Dear Debbie,

I don't know of any site offering Wheel of Fortune online, but perhaps another reader does. I'll use your question in a future column and we'll see if anyone replies.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John

Believe it or not, this was the next e-mail in my inbox:


I've found The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune at http://www.skybetvegas.com.

Mike

I stand corrected. I thought the licensing issues would be too formidable to overcome to have slots based on game shows at online casinos.


Dear John,

Played a Wild Cherry slot that was loud from coin insertion to payout (2 lousy coins made it sound like I hit the jackpot!). It was so annoying I thought it was a deterent because it may be loose. My theory proved wrong and I left with a big headache and little coinage.

The flipside is a Triple Diamond that was so quiet I couldn't hear the coins register and the only notation of a win was an increase in the amount of credits.

Why is there an extreme variance to the normal sound range? Were these machines once positioned at casino entrance (loud, attention getting) or near table games (not to disturb players)? Is there any correlation betwen volume and hit frequency? Should either of these slots be avoided?

Thanks,
Karen

Dear Karen,

Volume level on a slot can be adjusted by a slot technician. I think you're right that a casino would turn down the volume a bit on machines near table games.

I think the only casinos today that would turn up the volume on machines near entrances are the slot joints in downtown Las Vegas. When one casino's entrance is adjacent to another's, you need something to get players to come into your joint and not the one a few feet away.

There might be a correlation between volume and hit frequency but, if there is, I expect it to become weaker and weaker as times goes on. Years ago, machines weren't as much fun to play as they are today, so players needed incentives to keep playing. Today's machines are so compelling, though, players don't need to hear other players winning to have an incentive to keep playing.

Also, be aware that there is no correlation between hit frequency and long-term payabck.

Should either of those machine be avoided? No, but I would avoid the loud machine if the volume level bothers you.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John!

First off, I really love your column!

I love traditional 3-reel slots such as those found in Atlantic City and Las Vegas -- Double Diamond, Wild Cherry, Red, White & Blue, etc.

I sometimes find websites for other casinos such as the Turning Stone in Upstate New York, for instance, where the site lists their games as being coinless "multi-games" and other casinos list something called "video pull-tabs".

What I really would like to know is how they work, what they look like, and do they utilize actual spinning reels (not just video)?

Also, does this all have to do with different "classes" of gaming?

Thanks very much and all the best!

David

Dear David,

You're right. These different types of games have to do with different classes of gaming and what casinos are allowed to offer.

I don't know all the legal ins and outs, but there's something about Native American casinos being able to offer games similar to ones run by the states their reservations are in. So, if the state runs a lottery, they're allowed to run games similar to a lottery. I think there's also something about Native American casinos being able to offer the same games that charities can run. And maybe they only need compacts with the state and possibly even constitutional amendments to offer Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games.

The difference between Class II games and Class III games is that Class III games can determine their own results. Class II games have to have another system determine their results--just like the ping-pong ball blower machines determine the results of your Lotto tickets.

The Class II games simulate Vegas-style games--complete with spinning reels--but they don't use an internal RNG to determine their results. A game that uses a Bingo draw works something like this: After players press the Spin button, a separate computer in the casino performs a Bingo drawing and sends the balls drawn down to each machine. Each machine has a Bingo card programmed into it and the pattern of spots covered determines the symbols displayed on the reels. Covering the four corners, for example, might correspond to three cherries.

Here's a definition of a "video pull tab machine" I found on New Mexico's website:

"Video pull tab machine" means any electronic pull tab machine that utilizes video images and simulates the paper pull tab game of chance. The electronic video pull tab machine shall not have any direct cash payments. Video machines operate so that the player inserts cash into the machine, the machine converts the cash to credits of equal value from a single finite deal, and the player activates the machine to display numbers, letters, or symbols or a combination or sequence of numbers, letters, or symbols to expose a winning or losing pull tab. Each credit represents an equal share of the deal. The player may redeem the credit balance for cash at any time or may choose to continue to play from the same deal. Each credit played is subtracted or deducted from the deal until the deal is exhausted.

I believe the vast majority--if not all--of these machines are video.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

The slot machines have RNGs which determine where the spin is going to stop. However, if each spin is different and is selected at random based on the chip inside the machine, how does the casino make sure that it has the edge? If the machines are programmed in a way that no matter what the RNG comes up with, at the end of the day, how does the casino come out a winner?

Thanks,
~Soumya

Dear ~Soumya,

Let's say you have a bag filled with 100 ping pong balls; 60 are red, 30 are white, and 10 are blue. You pick a ball at random, record its color, return the ball to the bag, and repeat the process.

As you repeat this process, you'll find that the percentage of draws that were red approaches 60%, the percentage of draws that were white approaches 30%, and the percentage of draws that were blue approaches 10%.

In this random drawing, the thing we don't know is the color of the ball that will be drawn next. We do know, however, that the distribution of colors according to our records will get closer and closer to the true distribution of colors in the bag.

The same process occurs in a slot machine, only the "ping pong balls" that the machine draws represents combinations of symbols and each combination pays a certain amount of money, from $0 to thousands--if not even millions--back to the player. If we add up the values of all the "symbol combination ping pong balls" and divide by the number of ping pong balls, we get the payback for the machine.

Just as with the random drawing with the red, white, and blue ping pong balls, we don't know which symbol combination will be drawn next. But we do know the distribution of symbols drawn will get closer and closer to the distribution of symbols in the machine, and thus the actual payback of the machine will get closer and closer to the "theoretical" payback we calculated by adding up the values of the ping pong balls.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I visit 2 casinos on a reguler basis, Treasure Island in Red Wing, Minnesota, and Majestic Pines in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. I know they are regulated by the state as far as they have to pay around 75% back minimum.

My question is, after a large win they come and change the chip out and then put it in another machine. If I can find that machine, does that increase the chance of hitting a large jackpot (over $10,000) or do they just take the chip and reprogram it? I have won several jackpots over the years. The most was $36,000 on a $10 slot machine.

Matt

Dear Matt,

Are you sure they swap chips in the machines? Have you actually seen them remove a chip from a machine and replace it with another one after a jackpot?

Changing chips is usually quite a ritual. For example, I found this procedure on Wisconsin's Division of Gaming's site:

"The Compact requirements for changing an EPROM chip mandate that multiple employees of a casino, including security personnel, be present to access the processor board on which the EPROM chip is located. In addition, separate keys are required to open the machine and processor board door on the machine. Once within the processor board, in order to remove and change an EPROM, the OIGRC security tape must be broken....

And finally, at least 10 days prior to the removal of any EPROM, the Tribe is required to provide notice to the OIGRC [Office of Indian Gaming and Regulatory Compliance] of their intent to change EPROM chips. This ensures that the OIGRC is apprised of all changes and maintains an accurate inventory of all programs and devices in Wisconsin tribal casinos."

I find it very unlikely that they actually are changing any chips after large wins. They may have to open the machine to record a handpay or reset it after it has locked up because of a handpay or W-2G win, but I don't think they're swapping any chips.

If you have actually seen the casinos do this after your large wins, I suggest writing to the appropriate gaming divisions to find out what is going on.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I received this reply from Matt:

Yes. Three times I have seen them bring out the machine and switch chips. Each chip has its own code and security tape. The crew consists of a tech, slot superviser, slot attendent, and a security guard. They always have a reading device for the chips with them and they swap out the chips. I have only seen this done at Treasure Island Casino in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Thanks,
Matt

Of course! I should have realized what was being done before.

For large jackpots, casinos are sometimes required to compare the chips in the machines with reference chips to ensure that the jackpot is legitimate and the chips haven't been damaged or tampered with. The device you saw compares the data on the two chips and tells the operator if there are any differences.

I suspect they're just taking the chip out to compare it against the reference chip, and then putting it back in the machine. That's what happens in most jurisdictions.

It's also possible that Minnesota regulations require that the chip be sent to a lab for analysis. If that's the case, then the casino could be removing the chip that was in the machine when the jackpot was hit, checking another chip against the reference chip to ensure that it is okay, and then putting that chip in the machine. I found some information about Minnesota's regulations on the web, but nothing that relates to how slot jackpots should be verified.

John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net.

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