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Tickets for Tracking Players in Casinos? 157

Posted by Cliff
from the as-if-gambling-wasn't-tricky-enough-already dept.
aws910 asks: "I was in Las Vegas recently, and I noticed that most machines now give barcoded tickets as payment instead of coins. These tickets can then be used in other machines as a wager instead of paper money. A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds. With the ticket system, It seems all too easy for someone to build a system to track a player from one machine to another, giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge. If a machine knows how much you've already won as soon as you sit down, do you think it will give you good odds? I couldn't find any articles on it. What does Slashdot think about this?"
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Tickets for Tracking Players in Casinos?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I doubt it's legal for them to change the behavior of the machine based on who is using it. I'm not familiar with Nevada's gaming laws though.
  • Already done! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EvlG (24576) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @02:37AM (#7151008)
    Many casinos issue cards for frequent customers. The cards allow you to build up points, redeemable for comps and such.

    These systems already provided plenty of tracking. So the tickets are just a logical extension of this system really.

    Assuming I already used a card, I would be happy to slip a ticket in my wallet rather than carry around buckets of heavy coins.
  • I think that people gamble because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination. All three of those states are notoriously impervious to math, especially statistics.

    And besides, what "slim" edge? There's no edge -- anything that gives a player an edge is called "cheating" by the casinos. If there were a reliable way to exploit any "edge" in a casino it would go out of business in a week.*

    *And yes, I've read all the stories about people with fiendishly complicated systems who do actually
    • by GlenRaphael (8539) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @05:03AM (#7151384) Homepage
      If there were a reliable way to exploit any "edge" in a casino it would go out of business in a week.*

      *And yes, I've read all the stories about people with fiendishly complicated systems who do actually make shitloads of money, but not only is this very difficult in the first place, it's getting harder. The complexity of the exception proves the rule in this case.

      Actually, some of the systems that work to make money are simple. And a casino can easily absorb the losses from a few profitable players here and there. But you are correct that systems that work tend to be short-lived.

      For example, here's a system that worked a few years ago:
      (1) Find a bank of "Piggy Bankin'" slot machines.
      (2) Walk down the row, pushing a button on each machine, causing it to "wake up" from attract mode and display how many coins are in the bank.
      (3) If the number of coins in the bank is greater than 30, camp out at that machine and play one coin at a time until you "break the bank", then immediately cash out. and stop playing.
      (4) go find another batch of Piggies, or hover in the background while people play these for a while so as to build the banks back up so you can tear them down again.

      If the bank was at $40, your expected income was $20 (subtract 20 from the bank to get the expected value), and it should take less than 20 minutes of play to "earn" it.

      Sadly, you won't find banks of original Piggies anymore, and even if you did, you wouldn't find them with large untapped jackpots because too many other advantage players know about them. So I'm not giving anything up by telling you about it now. There are other similar opportunities around, but (a) they tend to be short-lived or otherwise limited in scope, and (b) players who exploit them too aggressively tend to get barred.

    • I think that people gamble because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination.

      Then you have a pretty narrow view of the universe.

      You might well have said "I think that people go to movies because they're addicted, stupid, or drunk. Often a combination."

      I know a guy - he's a CEO of a large company. Not stupid. Not addicted, and he doesn't drink.

      He gambles because he likes it. I asked him about it, and he says that it's entertainment for him - like going to a concert or an expensive rest
      • Exactly- yuu're paying for entertainment. You can go to a movie for 20 bucks (after popcorn). Or you can lose 20 bucks in a casino. So long as you have fun, and don't go overboard, its all good. Just don't bet more than you'd usually spend on a day's entertainment.
    • One time I was at a convention in Vegas about ten years ago. I was suprised to see a friend who I didn't believe was a gambling type blow about $150 gambling on arrival. He then took his "Frequent Gambler" card back to reception and secured a 50% rebate on the room for the rest of his stay. He didn't gamble again. Net win, around $350 or so. As he was attending on his own dollar, that was a nice plus.
  • by thecampbeln (457432) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @02:40AM (#7151018) Homepage
    Casinos can't legally dynamically change the odds on a machine period, let alone based on who you are!

    Besides... moving from one machine to another does not improve your odds any better then those idiots who bet black when X number of reds have appeared in succession on a roulette table... The only ones who this will "help" are the casinos themselves (better tracking of prolific players), said prolific players (getting comps, etc.) and of course the tax man.

    • by Red Pointy Tail (127601) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:21AM (#7151136)
      Ya, it is a commonly held fallacy that changing machines improve the odds. It is takes high-school probability training (or just simple reasoning) to see that the odds of a future given the previous events that have *already* been determined remains the same. Theoretically it is probably possible that the same machine can give 2 jackpots successively, though there is hardly the chance for that.

      An aside would be that many machines have an accumulating jackpot since the last win, for which it makes sense to just pick the one with highest pot to maximize your intake if you hit jackpot.

      A simple Occam razorish explanation will also to be that the casino *doesn't* need to do this to earn their big bucks. And they earn their big bucks by having a tiny skew in their basic odds (like giving 0.51 odds to themselves v.s. 0.49 odds to you) thus gives them a slight edge, that is multiplied by the volume of transaction to give them a big profit. All they need is to guarantee volume and prevent cheating. Maybe the tickets is just efficiency and to make it possible and easier to track cheaters. To imply that they would tweak the odds is just tinfoil hatting simply because they don't need to. And that is probably illegal.
      • Newer slot machine systems have multiple machines withdrawing results from a central ticket pool. The ticket pools are generated days or weeks in advance. At time of generation the casino specifies what kind of payout percentage they want, and verify it on generation. They actually specify exactly how many results there will be at each prize levels. For example:
        9700 - no win
        200 - 4x prize
        80 - 8x prize
        15 - 20x prize
        4 - 50x prize
        1 - 200x prize

        After the pool is generated the system verifies there are no
      • That the odds are a fixed thing. Each slot machine has a minimum required (75% by law) payout percentage.
        This does not equal predictable odds for you. The payout is based on the Casino's preference and in Vegas,
        the total casion's payout percentages are btwn 86.7% & 93.4%. [reviewjournal.com]

        The reason Casino's have implemented tickets or magnetic swipe cards is so that they can actively track the
        amount of cash going in and around the casino. This allows them to play with the odds and to watch for
        cheaters. Before they h

    • Casinos can't legally dynamically change the odds on a machine period...

      And you trust them to faithfully observe the law because this industry has already impressed you with the ethical standards they have shown so far?

      LOL.

      • I trust they to play by the rules. Because they are audited on a regular basis on one hand. If they get caught cheating on this they will be in for major problems, fines etc. On the other hand there is no great incentive for them to cheat. Assuming that the casino gets enough people to gamble to pay its bills it will make money.
        • Both Enron and Sunpoint Securities, Inc were audited on a regular basis by quite a few goverment orgs. Yet, it took quite a long time for those frauds to be caught. And they still haven't punished those truely responsible in either case.
    • hello mister misinformation. the machine cant change the ODDs, but it can change the results to maintain the odds. you can find a LOT of info on the web about machines that do simple high/low games (machine shows a Jack, you say lower, if the next card is lower then you win/continue) picking the results specifically to maintain their payout. The odds of gettng 'higher' on a 3 are not actually 11/13, they are whatever they need to be to maintain the machine's payout rate. If you (and previous betters) ha
  • Naive? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kris_J (10111) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @02:43AM (#7151033) Journal
    I'm sure I'm being naive, but isn't it illegal to have the odds of winning different inside the machine as to the ones advertised on the outside? If casinos would be willing to rig the odds using a ticket-based system, why would anyone consider that the current "anonymous" machines are any less rigged?

    (Why anyone considers casinos worth spending time/money at is a discussion left for another day.)

    • Re:Naive? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zachary Kessin (1372) <zkessin@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @02:52AM (#7151063) Homepage Journal
      Plus what would be the point, you (The casino) get in big trouble if you get caught, and you are going to make money anyway.

      Now it may help the casinos figure out how to set up the floor to maximize revenue or something, sort of like, people who like game X tend to like game Y but not Z, so lets move these slots over there.

      But then again if you are in a casino you are a bit of a fool.
    • I'm sure I'm being naive, but isn't it illegal to have the odds of winning different inside the machine as to the ones advertised on the outside?

      Slot machines typically don't have their payout rate (or odds) stamped on the front. In fact, I've never, ever seen one with it. For most modern slots, you have to look inside at the games rom to even determine the payout rate. Payoff rates also tend to vary from machine to machine even within the same line. (That is, the machines to the left and right of a mach

    • they are generally rigged. you aren't playing 'real' random game anymore.

      and around here iirc there's a law stating how much of the money that gets put in the machine can keep to itself(that is, the law states the odds). and the odds aren't generally advertised and if they were, screw them, they're not generally going to tell the full algorithm for deciding if you win or not, as that can be quite complex already as all machines are software controlled more or less, usually more. your chances of winning inc
      • they are generally rigged. you aren't playing 'real' random game anymore.

        Naa, they're not rigged. There are strict laws in Nevada anyway, and most gaming laws in the US are modelled after Nevada's simply because they have stood the test of time. That's not to say that the odds aren't stacked heavilly toward the casino -- but it is a purely random game. When you trigger the start of the game (button, handle, etc...) the machine loads a different odds table based strictly on the amount of money you put i

        • It ain't random. It's statistical, designed to mimic randomness.

        • **Naa, they're not rigged. There are strict laws in Nevada anyway, and most gaming laws in the US are modelled after Nevada's simply because they have stood the test of time. That's not to say that the odds aren't stacked heavilly toward the casino -- but it is a purely random game. When you trigger the start of the game (button, handle, etc...) the machine loads a different odds table based strictly on the amount of money you put in, then it grabs a random number and finds the point in the table where that
  • In any other game the 'Law of averages' is a fallacy which will help you lose money if you believe in it - but in slots the machines are programmed to work with a certain win/lose percentage. I'd imagine any reactive behaviour would probably be illegal, but the gaming regulators may take a while to catch on.
  • I wonder if, given enough tickets, one could figure out their encoding scheme and print one's own tickets. Of course, they'd figure it out sooner or later, review their video footage, and come bankrupt your brother-in-law's tractor dealership...
  • by mike_lynn (463952) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @02:52AM (#7151067)
    I'm pretty sure the Nevada Gambling Comission/Board would have an issue with devices listed as separate games acting in concert to provide an overall odds. They spend a lot of time and money to ensure as much 'randomness' as possible, yet design the games to have very definite odds. I don't think they're about to overhaul the whole system.
  • edge?? EDGE???? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fat Cow (13247)
    giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge.

    Are you joking? I thought this board was supposed to inhabited with math-clueful types.

    Just so we're clear - there's no player edge on slots - it's advertised to go up to 97.8% payback and is more usually at 90% [lasvegasadvisor.com]

    • there's an edge in casinos.

      free booze!!!

      fck, if we had that kind of casinos within 400km radius i'd be there every other night playing slots with pennies...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    you do know that the casino takes in more than it pays out, right? that's how they make their money.

    statistically speaking, you leave with less than you came in. it's like day traders.. occasionally someone has some good luck but the vast majority of small-time day traders and gamblers lose money. It's in the numbers and you can't change it.

    So what if one machine pays out less or more than the other? They've got the system as a whole turning out exactly the profit margin they want. You think Microsoft and
  • As I sit here.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sevn (12012) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:24AM (#7151142) Homepage Journal
    Looking at my Station Casinos Preferred Membership Card, I can tell you exactly what the cards are for. It's to get you to come back to the same Casinos. The cool thing about the Station card is you can use it at any of their Casinos. And they have quite a few. The card gets you stuff like free plays, discounted drinks, and automatically registered for a jackpot drawing. My father-in-law hit it for 35 grand recently on a dollar slot. This is the only card I'm familiar with, but I'm sure they are all pretty much the same thing. My card is valid at Boulder Station, Palace Station, Texas Station, Sunset Station(my fav), and Santa Fe Station.
  • by snooo53 (663796)
    A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.

    I thought the basic slot strategy was continue to press the "spin" button until all your money disappears? In that case, this card idea makes it so much easier!!

    On another note, have you considered actually investing the money in short term stocks or doing some intense day trading? The thrill is the same as gambling, except the odds are actually in your favor to mak

  • Pointless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kinnell (607819) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:44AM (#7151194)
    The casinos do not care if you win or lose - all they care about is that they win. It is necessary that people occasionally win, otherwise nobody would play. They don't care whether it's you, or someone you saw. The odds will be set so that even with the odd big payout, they still profit.
  • by GlenRaphael (8539) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:48AM (#7151204) Homepage
    When it comes to games where luck dominates, the casino fundamentally doesn't care whether you in particular are a winner over any specific period of time. They have no incentive to modify the odds in the way you suggest.. Why would you assume they do?

    Suppose a slot machine has a payout schedule such that, on average, the machine pays out 97% of the amount it takes in. Somebody will win the occasional big payout but most people will lose, and the losses will tend to more than cover the wins.Why should the casino care whether the payouts go to you rather than the next guy? All they care about is that the overall odds are in their favor, and they are. Somebody will win the jackpots, and it might as well be you as much as anybody else. You don't scare them.

    When you say "A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.", you are talking nonsense. Switching machines doesn't change your odds*, so the casinos don't need to do anything special to foil that strategy. You can't combine negative expectation bets to get a positive expectation bet.

    (* actually, there's an exception to that rule, and I've made money exploiting it, but I gather you're not talking about wonging into machines with unusually high per-machine progressives. That's gotten pretty hard to do lately due to stiff competition and "anti-flea" features built into the newest machines by the manufacturers. But it was fun while it lasted, eh?)

    • They have no incentive to modify the odds in the way you suggest

      Customer management, in this case, could be a little more complex than you seem to believe. Gambling is most addictive when the pattern of reward is very specific. A customer has very little idea how everyone else is doing, and a very good idea of how he is doing.

      In order to keep him gambling the most money, it makes sense to present him, in particular, with a pattern of reward that encourages him to lose the most money. For example, I wo
      • The ideal plan, from behavioral studies, is small rewards fairly often and large rewards at long, very random intervals.

        And luckily enough for the casinos, just letting the machines follow their normal default behavior does exactly this! No further per-client tweaking is required to accomplish it.

        To the degree that a little further tweaking /is/ useful, they can do that via the mechanism of comps. The standard thing is to give the biggest expected losers a consolation prize of free meals, shows, airfar

        • And luckily enough for the casinos, just letting the machines follow their normal default behavior does exactly this! No further per-client tweaking is required to accomplish it.

          Not true. Over the long term, distributions will be normal (and conducive to continued gambling) certainly. However, over the short term (say, an hour's play) all sorts of non-optimal patterns will emerge.

          Last time I was on a cruise ship, I watched people gamble for hours. Fascinating, really. Cruise ship gamblers are often c
          • What's in the casino's best interest is to get an armed squad of jack-booted thugs to roam the countryside, killing people an taking their life savings while supporting a violent overthrow of the government that will get them sympathetic powers that be.

            Fortunately, they're one of the most highly regulated industries out there; I doubt they're allowed to change the odds on machines based on customer identity. Of course, gamblers are generally uninformed, unintellighent and superstitious, so believe what yo
            • ...and very likely can't, by law (as you suggest).

              I was only responding to the notion that they would have no interest in doing so (see top post). It's likely, rather, the casinos will use identity tracking for research and/or other kinds of compensation.
    • But it was fun while it lasted, eh?

      Tell me about it. My thing was full-pay video poker, but that has gotten difficult to find in Las Vegas and downright impossible elsewhere.

      I wasn't aware slot machines ever got into positive return territory, even with high progressives - how do you know the base payout (and jackpot frequency for that mattter) in order to calculate the progressive's effect on net payout?
      • I wasn't aware slot machines ever got into positive return territory, even with high progressives - how do you know the base payout (and jackpot frequency for that mattter) in order to calculate the progressive's effect on net payout?

        Base payout rates can be known or roughly guessed at through a combination of public and private (insider) knowledge. Having somebody who maintains slot machines or runs a casino in your circle of acquaintances helps a lot. :-) The Piggy bonus came around often enough that p

  • They aren't messing with the odds. They aren't fools. It's extremely risky, and they don't need to. The odds are already fixed in their favor more than any other game there.

    However, the tickets are an extra (and legal) moneymaker beyond increased efficiency.

    Unlike coins, they aren't redeemable at other casinos, making it just a little harder to take your funds elsewhere. Customer retention is good.

    Like a gift certificate, there will be some percentage of them that go unredeemed, becoming pure profit for
  • Strategy - in a random number generator ???

    No wonder Vegas makes good money if someone that has a good degree that hopefully includes mathematics, statistics, and probabilities

    You were kidding about that strategy comment right ?

    Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row ???

    If you want a game where you can have strategy learn to play blackjack well, REALLY well. The only game where you can statistically beat the house over a LONG period

    • If you want a game where you can have strategy learn to play blackjack well, REALLY well. The only game where you can statistically beat the house over a LONG period of time - it just requires a graduate level degree in mathematics and statistics to do it in your head

      Mmm - blackjack. It all depends on the exact house rules, but the only casino I've ever visited has quite generous rules.

      Blackjack is the only game I play, and I really enjoy it when the rules are fair - also I've been quite lucky, a

    • Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row ???

      I understand it now, but for some reason it took me a long time to really understand this concept...

      Now I know:

      The odds of getting 101 heads in a row is equal to the odds of getting 100 heads in a row followed by a tails.

      As far as strategy, there are some valid strategies (see the Piggy Bankin' comment), but they'll probably get you thrown out of the casino if it's obvious what you're doing.
    • Flip a coin 100 times - all heads... what is the chance of flipping it again and getting 101 heads in a row?

      Simple - if it's the same coin, and it came up heads 100 times in a row, chances are it would come up heads on the 101st throw.

      The odds of 100 heads in a row are so small that it leads one to believe that there is something abnormal about the coin that causes it to come up heads more often than tails.

      If you have something that is supposed to be 50/50 odds, and it consistantly favours one outcome o
    • The only game where you can statistically beat the house over a LONG period of time - it just requires a graduate level degree in mathematics and statistics to do it in your head

      A person with a good system can slant the 0.5% advantage that the house has in his favor.

      It doesn't take a degree. All it takes is system that you can use without getting caught. It's not illegal to count cards, but the casinos have the legal right to refuse to gamble with you. If they think you're accurately counting cards, they
  • ...then why don't you simply just change the tickets for cash at a change booth and then gamble with that cash?

    Hey, it's hardly rocket science, is it?
  • Slot machine odds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by glassesmonkey (684291) * on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @07:18AM (#7151736) Homepage Journal
    Geez, this is not news, Vegas (and other resorts) have been doing this for awhile. If you are staying at a hotel you are encouraged to use your equivalent of the grocery-store shopper card. This serves two purposes, (a) hotel guests spend more money gambling in their casino owned by their hotel and (b) Vegas can optimize their payout... (oh and (c) you spend more when it's virtual cash). They can track consumer behavior and demographics. All the more reason to only play with cash and forego the comps. The same goes for grocery-store cards.. consumers get screwed in the long run.

    I mean (of course) not that they modify any odds, but that they can "comp" certian guests and give free meals, shows, etc. to guest to 'perceive' they got something for all the cash they lost at the slot machines and more likely to return and/or spend more gambling. And after all the 'odds' we are speaking about is really return on investment (negative in most cases).

    As far as Nevada gaming commision goes, slot machines don't have to meet any 'perfectly random' requirement. Machines can be (I mean ARE IN FACT) designed to payout differently depending on how full they are, where in the casino they are (ie. by the entrances/exits), what time of day, what time they were last serviced. What the casino must maintain is an overall average payout (usually around 95% on the strip and 98%+ in the suburbs).. Which means best case you are losing money over the long run.

    However, many professional gamblers make a living playing video poker which *if* you play *perfectly* can payout >100%.. I've heard that 40hrs/wk in front of a video poker machine can earn you at least $20k/yr (asuming you have enough cash to ride out a losing streak) (Oh and don't believe what you hear on Travel Channel or ABC about casinos and resorts, they are designed to bring in customers
  • If you want to win a slot jackpot, go to vegas with $50-70k and play $50-100 machines only. Play the same machine until you run out of loot.

    Slots are required to pay a certain amount over a period of time... switching machines reduces the chances that you'll hit a jackpot.
  • I realize someone probably has commented on this already.

    The NGC as strict rules regarding slot machine operations and regular surprise spot checks to insure that only NGC authorized chips are in use in the slots.

    Think of them as giant videogames, the game is run my ROM chips that control the payoff rate of the machine. There is no magic button that the casino manager can hit to cause a machine to pay/not-pay. A casino in violation _will_ recieve stiff fines (stiff enough to actually make a casion think)
  • Just hold the tickets aside and play with something we mere mortals call MONEY. Cash out the tickets at the end of the night instead of shoving them back into another machine.

    In any event this is kind of a moot point since most people are playing for a free buffet and use those cards.

  • I hate to tell you this, but most casinos already track what you play in the slots. But as far as I know, they use it to give you bonuses to play at the casino. They track how much you play and how much you win, and the more you play the more comps (bonuses) you can get.

    For example, I play at Casino Niagra [discoverniagara.com] once or twice a month on average. (I live in new york, so Niagra Falls isn't that far away.) Every month the casino sends me a mailing that has 2 $10 coupons in it. I have heard that other people
  • A Casion wants you personally to win. They make their money by getting a lot of people in, and most of them lose, but they love nothing more than when you win, and go home and tell your friends. Think about it, those who go to vegas and win are always telling their friends and family how much they made, often over a year latter they are still bragging. There is no better advertising than word of mouth from winners. Best of all, individulals can lie, saying things (in complete ignorance) that would be i

  • So how long until some innovative person brings a digital camera, photo's someone elses ticket, prints their own, then 'cashes' it before they do?

    More to the point, how long until an 'innovative' casino takes advantage of the ephemeral (no chips/coins to count) nature of this and causes computer records to change things in their favor. Yes the various gaming comission types and auditors would frown on it, but done cleverly enough it could be pulled off (and probably already is).
  • by 4of12 (97621)

    A basic slot strategy is to move from one machine to another, and play machines in certain areas of the casino floor to improve your odds.

    Eh, excuse me, but I really doubt you can change odds on slots.

    AFAICT, the best you can do in a casino is playing 21 with basic strategy, modified by counting cards. It requires enough concentration, though, that's it too much like real work.

    Plus, if you're too good and obvious (low bets until near the end of the deck when your bets get really high) you'll get esco

  • giving the house the ability to kill the player's (already slim) edge... What does Slashdot think about this?

    Slashdot thinks that people who play slots lose between 5 and 15 cents every time they pull the lever on the one dollar "pretty blinky light machine."

    Slashdot also thinks that people who believe they have an "alread slim edge" in slots are probably the greatest thing ever, since they pay for all the cool hotels and stuff that the rest of us stay at when we're in Vegas.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @10:31AM (#7152954) Homepage Journal
    The one time I've been to Vegas and on a few trips to Atlantic City as a kid, I've always noticed how excited people can get by the sound of plinking coins.

    The old ladies spending their social security check on the one-armed bandit will hear a neighbor get a big payout and start playing more fiercely. When they do win they have a crazy Golumn-like look in their eye as they're filling up that bucket full of winnings.

    Is the cost of handling coins so high that it's worth forfeiting the extra revenue from that psychology? Even if the machines make an electronic plink sound when you win (along with the bells and sirens) I can't see the alure being the same.

    Of course, maybe it's just easier to hit the '$5 bet' button if you don't have to load 20 quarters into the machine.

    Personally, I think the best games in Vegas are in the basement of the Excalibur.
    • Of course, maybe it's just easier to hit the '$5 bet' button if you don't have to load 20 quarters into the machine.

      I wouldn't be surprised if this is exactly the reason that they're moving to a ticket-based system. It's like the psychology behind chips--it's designed to make you forget that you're actually spending money by providing a layer of abstraction: "Look, it's not a hundred-dollar bill! It's just a black disk with the casino's name on it!" As the poker players say, the guy who invented chips was
  • ...dim bulbs like this who believe the player has an edge. For goodness sakes, look at the odds listed for the machine: 97% on average, 99% for "high roller" machines. How does that translate into a "player advantage"?

    In the short run, random runs may give the player a larger than average win or loss, but play long enough and you will confirm the math behind slots every time. The *only* games where you can gain an advantage are Black Jack (and only by counting cards: see articles about the MIT boys who won

  • Slot machines are mathematically one of the worst thigns you can do with your money at a casino. And that's assuming they're fair chances as published and no manipulation is going on. For that matter, you gani zero advantage moving between slots or any other hokey little slots theory. Slots do not get hot and cold.
  • The way slots work. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mikeumass (581062)
    Just a little FYI on the slot machines actually work. Many people have the misconception that each time you pull the lever the slot machine moves onto it's next random number in line. Therefore it is possible for someone to "steal" someonelse's jackpot by pulling the lever right before them. The way slots actually work is while they are sitting idle, thier random number generator is actually pumping through numbers like crazy. It only stops when someone pulls the lever, and this is the number chosen for th
  • by NickDngr (561211) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @12:20PM (#7153893) Journal
    I work in the Slot Technical department of the first casino in the world to have a 100% ticket-in/ticket-out floor. I can tell you with absolute certainty that your fears are completely unfounded.

    There are many advantages to using tickets instead of coins. The primary reason is that it saves us a ton of money. A stack of 200 tickets sitting in the printer can last for days. If the same machine has coins, it might have to have its coin hopper filled multiple times a day. The labor savings from just that are incredible. It also prevents people from having to wait for an attendant to fill an empty hopper when they cash out. Happier customers stay longer, spend more money, and come back more often.

    Coins have to be collected, counted, wrapped or bagged, and redistributed, and they are very heavy. My casino has two people to handle the paper distribution. It would take 40-50 additional people to do all coin handling.

    Contrary to popular myth, we can't change what a machine does on the fly, nor do we need to. A slot machine has a theoretical mathematical hold percentage that is in our favor. It varies from day to day and week to week, but over the life of the machine it almost always comes very close to the theoretical. We don't need to cheat. We can give you back 99% of what you put in and still make money. Most of the time you'll take your 99% and put it in again. Then we'll take 1% of that. And you'll do it again. And again. That's how we make money.

    We don't need to track you with barcoded tickets, we do that with player's club cards. We entice you to use cards by giving you comps based on how much you put into our machines. You don't have to use a card if you don't want to. The only reason the tickets have barcodes is so that the bill validator can read it. The unique number on the ticket is there so that the machine can query the back-end system to validate it as a good ticket. Nothing more.
  • Money. It's all about the money.

    It costs money to have change girls walking around 24/7. It costs money to have someone sitting in the change booth waiting to dump your bucket o' change into the counter and hand you the cash equivalent.

    Now, you can sit down, put $20 into the machine and play to your hearts content and never touch a coin (which means they reduce the number of free moist towelettes they hand out to wash that 'coin residue' off your hands). If you happen to win then you take your barcoded
  • Slaughterhouses (used to?) employ a "judas goat". Slaughterhouses are new and frightening environments for the animals about to be slaughtered. So they would employ tame animals, used to the environment, who would fearlessly lead the animals about to be slaughtered into the holding pens. These were known as the "judas goat".

    I have a friend, a very beautiful young woman, who likes to gamble. (I know, I know, maybe knowing her disqualifies me for slashdot. But we are just friends.) Anyhow, she is not

    • I tell her that the surviellance bosses may tune her machine to pay out more than normal because she is so talkative and charming, that they know she will talk the other guests into putting more into the machines...

      On the other hand, maybe she just doesn't like to talk about her losses (who wants to be seen as a loser?) and only talks about her wins...
  • First of all, with very little exception, you NEVER have an edge over the house on slots.

    Certain slots MAY be set to pay out > 100%, but they are almost always low-limit (i.e. penny or nickel) slots.

    AFAIK, all slots in state-regulated casinos in Nevada pay out at least 90% (as opposed to unregulated slots on Indian reservations which may pay as low as 70%... I'm not criticizing the Native Americans, just adding that for completeness). That means, over a long period of time, for every dollar you wager,
  • While I don't doubt that the bar-coded tickets can be used to track players, I can guarantee you that they aren't used in a way that can affect the odds for the player.

    Each slot machine is equipped with a chip that determines the payout for that machine. The gaming control board of each gaming jurisdiction usually requires that the casinos register each machine's payout with them. If the casinos want to change the payout, they have to notify the gaming control board of the change, and then manually open
  • Can someone explain the entertainment phenomenon of sitting before a metallic contraption, pulling a lever, and losing money a coin at a time?

    Blackjack, people. Better odds and more social.

  • Lots of sub-topics to respond to, so I'll try to hit them briefly:
    • Casinos in the major regulated environments cannot change the odds of a game on the fly. This is the case in Nevada, and the gaming laws in Nevada stipulate that machines sold in their market must meet their standards in every market in which they are sold. This is why, when you see a major-market machine like an IGT or a Williams, you know the play is legit according to Nevada Gaming Commission rules. Now, those rules state...
    • Slot machin
  • (from Knowifi [knowifi.com])

    "Knowifi's Casino Marketing Event Manager (cMEM) allows you to track the movement of guests throughout your property. Give your convention or event guest a promotional item with an embedded WiFi tag and find out where they travel on your property and how long they stay in each venue (casino, food & beverage outlets, entertainment, etc.). Now you can have accurate information about whether your promotional events drive customers to the casino.

    "Here's how the system works:

    "Event attendee

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