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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Tribal Gaming Regulations

30 September 2005

Hi, John

I'm pretty familiar with the RNG and probabilities, but am having a problem figuring out in my mind how an EGD can truly generate random numbers on each spin when it's been programmed to payback a certain percentage over time. Wouldn't a true RNG have to payback 100% over time? Is it a random number generator in the sense that it will generate numbers randomly "as long" as its been preprogrammed to generate these numbers under certain payback percentages?

Thanks,
Mike

Dear Mike,

You're missing an important step in how a slot machine operates.

The random number is used to pick an outcome at random from a population of outcomes that has an average payback of a certain percentage.

For example, let's say that the population has 1,000 outcomes; 750 outcomes are losers, 200 are pushes, 30 pay two coins, and 20 pay five coins. The average payback for this population is: (750(0) + 200(1) + 30(2) + 20(5)) / 1000 = 460/1000 = .46 or 46%.

The random number is used to choose an outcome from this population in which the different outcomes are not equally likely. Over time, the payback we experience will get closer and closer to the payback of this population.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

I would just like to respond to your statement as highlighted below.

What you described (altering the payouts on machines) is illegal in every jurisdiction with which I'm familiar. Native American casinos aren't always subject to the same regulations, so it's possible this casino may be allowed to play these sorts of games.

Being the "slot expert" that you are, I'm confident that you have extensive knowledge of the rules and regulations that are placed on any legitimate gaming operation, regardless if it's Tribal Gaming or Commercial Gaming.

I would like to simply add that Tribal Casinos, or "Native American" casinos have more stringent State and Federal regulations than any Commercial Gaming operation in this country. Your response implies that "Native American" casinos are free to manipulate their gaming machines as they wish, which is nowhere near the truth and is sadly a common misconception.

Thank you,
Robert Schuman

Dear Readers,

I broke my policy of not printing complete names because I believe this gentleman is connected with a casino operated by the Lac du Flambeau tribe in Wisconsin. He didn't say so, but let me tell you how I came to this conclusion.

I was somewhat skeptical of this message because the from line was "Fuzzy" and the from e-mail address was fuzzy at a particular domain. When I did a WHOIS on the domain, I discovered that it is registered to the tribe. So, I believe this gentleman does work in the industry.

Unfortunately, I don't have extensive knowledge about any jurisdiction's regulations. But I don't know if anyone does. I have some sections of New Jersey's regulations and some sections contradict statements in other sections.

I wrote the article in question in November 2003 and it referred to a casino in Mainstee, MI. In 2003, tribal gaming, both Class II and Class III, was just beginning to be seen as the powerhouse it has become. As more and more people asked questions about tribal casinos, I did some research on IGRA and tribal gaming.

I would like to direct Mr. Schuman's attention to this statement from my column on 12/04/03:

As I've learned more and more about Native American casinos and how they're regulated, I've discovered that it's not the "Wild West" free-for-all that I thought it to be.

And here is an excerpt from the letter to which I was responding:

I've worked native casinos as controller for over five years.... Fact is, we almost have to have a direct mandate from God to change the payouts - NIGC and our local auditors would crucify us. In most cases, we don't even have control of the chips, the gaming commission does.

Mr. Schuman -- or anyone else-- if there are any webpages that describe the slot regulation for Native American casinos and what Native American casinos can and can't do with their slots, please let me know and I'll publish the links in a future column. We hear a lot about sovereignty, but not much about regulation.

John


Dear John,

Harrah's in Atlantic City has recently added Double Down Stud machines that now offer four different versions of the game. They are sixes or better, eights or better with a joker, kings or better with dueces wild, and a bonus dueces wild. I know that the payback on the sixes or better is 97.8%. What is the payback on the other versions?

Thank you,
Steve

Dear Steve,

If you or someone else could please send me the complete paytables for the games, I'd be happy to calculate the long-term paybacks.

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 send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take several months for your question to appear in my column.

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