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Gaming Guru

 

Slot Machine Malfunctions

31 October 2009

When you play a slot machine or video game, you enter into a contract with the casino. The payout table (or "glass") on top of the machine spells out the coin payout for various symbol combinations. An important element of the contract is the message on the glass saying that a "Malfunction voids all pays and plays." Or something to that effect.

After a big jackpot hit, slot personnel routinely open up the slot to be sure it hasn't been tampered with and that the slot's computer program is working properly. They then compare the computer's electronic record of the game against the symbol combination displayed on the reels.

If the symbol combination on the reels doesn't match the electronic record of the game, a malfunction is declared and the jackpot is denied. It's the computer's electronic record of the game that is considered the actual outcome. Not what's displayed on the reels.

In Nevada, the Gaming Control Board ruled that in case of a malfunction, the player is entitled to receive only a refund of the wager made on the voided play. Should you wish to dispute a Nevada casino's claim of a malfunction or incorrect payout, insist on getting everything documented: the time, date, place, names of witnesses, casino personnel, etc.

If the amount of the dispute is over $500, the casino must notify the Enforcement Division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. If the amount is under $500, you can ask the casino to phone the Enforcement Division (open 24 hours a day) so you can speak to an agent. If it refuses, ask for the phone number and make the call yourself. Just don't leave. Make the call from the casino.

In New Jersey, the state gaming control board has a resident agent in each casino, also available 24 hours a day.

The computer chips in today's slots have a memory of at least the last three or four games played including how many coins were inserted, when played, and the win-loss symbols that came up. Evidence that's hard to dispute.

Every casino, no matter where located, is subject to some type of state gaming control. So if you wish to make a claim or complaint against a casino, contact the applicable state gaming authority.

Larry Mak
Larry Mak is a former science writer at the California Institute of Technology and he is currently a freelance gaming author.

Books by Larry Mak:

Larry Mak
Larry Mak is a former science writer at the California Institute of Technology and he is currently a freelance gaming author.

Books by Larry Mak: