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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Chalk One Up for Slot Players!

23 July 2003

Every slot player is aware of the little sticker that’s on every slot and video poker machine in every casino in the country: “Machine malfunction voids all plays”.

For all practical purposes, this means that if the casino determines there are any irregularities in the normal function of the machine that would compromise any winnings or a jackpot payoff, the casino reserves the right to deny payment.

Since all electronic gaming devices are governed by an internal computer program, it is easy for casino owners to check that everything’s on the up and up. In fact, whenever a jackpot is hit, the machine locks down to allow attendants to key in codes and information to verify the payout before the machine is activated again.

It’s tough to beat the system, but a 49-year-old woman playing slots at the Tulalip Casino in Washington State, about 30 miles north of Seattle, did just that.

It seems Debra Hughes had an incredible streak of luck on the machine she was playing. She started out with ten dollars and after roughly 2 1/2 hours of playing time and lots of winning she had turned that sawbuck into $12,000. But when she wanted to collect her winnings, the casino wouldn’t pay her.

The slot technicians determined that Hughes’ windfall wasn’t gleaned from a lucky streak. They discovered the machine had been operating in demo mode, a speeded-up version which allowed the lady to win three out of every four plays she made, or 200-times more wins than regular game mode.

After a new game is installed or an upgrade is made to an existing machine, technicians test the operation in a demo mode to verify it is operating properly. Apparently the technicians forgot to deactivate the demo mode when their work was completed and left the machine vulnerable for a player to make a killing.

Hughes’ sister, Linda Jensen, who was at the casino with Debra, admitted she observed a demo mode notice in the corner of the screen of the machine, but that it was too small for her sister, who wasn’t wearing her glasses, to see.

Casino attendants and supervisors who checked the machine also didn’t see the notice at first.

Hughes took her complaint to the top but left the casino without her winnings. Three days later, however, she was called back and presented with a $12,000 check by Chuck James, chief operating officer of the Tulalip Tribes’ gambling operations.

The money, it should be noted, didn’t come out of the casino’s coffers. It was paid by Multimedia Games, Inc. of Austin, Texas, the manufacturer of the slot machine in question.

Multimedia president Clifton E. Lind said the oversight was his company’s fault and not the casino’s. “We let the casino down and caused the player to be frustrated,” Lind explained.

Even though this particular story had a happy ending, it should serve as notice for all slot players to realize that casinos take the “machine malfunction voids all plays” disclaimer very seriously. If you suspect anything is wrong with the machine you are playing, even if it’s in your favor, call an attendant over so you won’t be disappointed if you hit a jackpot and don’t get paid.

CASINO NEWS: Richard Daluga, a 29-year-old Chicago resident, hit the Royal Flush Caribbean Stud Poker progressive jackpot at Jack Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on April 28. The pot, which had been building for over five months, was worth $192,441.50. Daluga had been playing for about four hours when he was dealt the jackpot hand.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp