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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Critiquing Coinless Slot Technology

6 October 2004

The ticket-in/ticket-out slot machine technology that has created a virtual "coinless" environment at Chicago area casinos has for the most part received a warm reception from players who don't miss handling tokens, collecting them in plastic buckets, and then waiting in line at the cashier to have them counted.

The system, however, is not without its critics. Some players miss the sound of coins cascading into the metal trays, a clanking chorus that has been music to the ears of slot players for generations. Others view slot ticketing as a devious plan on behalf of casino operators to make it easier for people to play faster and lose more.

This columnist is of the opinion that the benefits of ticketing for players far outweigh the benefits for the casinos.

By converting slot machine inventories to ticket-in/ticket-out, casinos eliminate expenses connected with minting and handling tokens and related costs such as collecting, counting, bagging and filling machine hoppers. This, of course, ultimately translates into the elimination of jobs unless people who filled those roles can be retrained for other duties.

As for the economic impact on players, I see only benefits. Once slot machines were rendered capable of storing credits on an electronic meter instead of returning every win in the form of coins in the tray, they immediately became greater sources of casino revenues. People could play faster, and because they were playing digital credits as opposed to cold, hard cash, they developed a tendency to lose perspective of the value of their money.

You must also remember that the evolution of slot machines into the electronic, computer-driven marvels that they are today also rendered obsolete the traditional handle that gave them their "one-armed bandit" reputation. Yet even the most modern cabinets produced by slot machine manufacturers still include a handle for people to pull to activate a play, even though fewer and fewer players do it.

When machines were equipped with a button to activate a play, it may have sent traditionalists into a frenzy, but through the years it has become the preferred method of play and you hardly hear anyone complain that playing slots "just isn't the same unless you pull the handle". Of course, the play button also serves the interests of the casinos by making it possible for people to play faster.

The same will eventually hold true for ticket-in/ticket-out technology. It is obvious that it's the direction the casino industry is heading. In a relatively short period of time this columnist predicts that the use of coins and tokens will be eliminated completely and all play will be conducted using paper currency and the voucher system.

Hopper fills, metal trays and the sounds of clanking coins will become a part of slot machine history. Casinos no longer need those "effects" as subliminal methods to entice people to play. The machines themselves are so visually attractive, and interactive video screen technology makes them so much fun, that they are lures in and of themselves.

The one criticism I have heard from players is what can best be described as a slight flaw in the system from the public's perspective that's in place at Illinois casinos. Apparently, when a player inserts a voucher valued in dollars AND cents into a dollar game, the machine immediately issues a voucher in the odd cents and records the dollar amount on its meter.

Some players are under the impression the machine is rejecting the voucher, so they take the ticket without looking at it and proceed to another machine, not realizing they were credited for the dollar amount and the ticket is only in the form of the odd cents. Another player can come along and play off those credits you left.

Until we all become accustomed to the voucher system of slot play, just make it a point to always check that the amount of money you cash out for matches the value of the ticket the machine issued to you. It's part of what being a smart and alert player is all about.

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