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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Integrity of Slot Machines Monitored Closely

17 September 2008

Readers of this column frequently send in questions regarding the integrity of the slot machines they play and just how much control the individual casinos have over the games and the protocols that are in place to change or alter the components.

Simply put, slot machines in all state regulated and Native American casinos are subject to the controls and procedures of regulatory bodies.

Precise guidelines and standard operating procedures vary from state to state, but generally speaking no slot machine goes on the floor of a casino until it is thoroughly tested for randomness. And once it's there, regulations must be followed if any changes are made.

Prior to marketing a new game for distribution, slot manufacturers conduct their own internal testing procedures. But before a casino can make a purchase order, the game must be approved by the state regulatory body, a process which can take months.

In Illinois, for example, gaming board regulations require that the game's EPROM (Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory) or non-alterable storage media be analyzed and reviewed by an independent laboratory before the administrator approves it.

Furthermore, once a game is approved, it is required that each device contain a separate locked internal enclosure for the circuit board containing the EPROM and for all non-alterable media program storage that has an effect on the game's integrity.

In other words, this guarantees accessibility to the slot machine's computer driven operation to no one other than a designated casino employee using an approved method, and this only in the presence of an agent representing the Illinois Gaming Board.

The Illinois Gaming Board also stipulates that slot machines must experience no data loss after a power failure, have previous and current game recall, and have a random selection process which exhibits no detectable patterns or dependency on any previous outcome, wager amount, or style or method of play.

Illinois regulations demand that casinos cannot automatically alter pay tables or any function of the machines based on internal computation of the "hold" percentage, and that every person who plays the machine is guaranteed at the initiation of each play that a random selection of each possible permutation or combination of game elements which produce winning or losing outcomes is available.

When a manufacturer comes out with a new slot, the specifications of the game are made available to potential buyers, including the all important payback percentage range. Here are some examples of the range a game can have: 82 percent to 96 percent; 87.50 percent to 98 percent; and 85.98 percent to 95.95 percent.

In Illinois, slot machines are required to have mathematical payback percentages of not less than 80 percent and not more than 100 percent. A casino's slot director selects the payback percentage he or she wants the game to have when the purchase order is made.

The game's chip is approved by the Illinois Gaming Board prior to installation and the payback percentage is set at the game level. There are some chips with multiple paybacks. In this case, once the chip is approved the casino decides where it is set.

The bottom line is this: Win, lose or draw, whenever you play slots at a state regulated or Native American casino, you're in no danger of being cheated.

CASINO NEWS: The minimum bet at one of the two new player friendly double-deck "pitch" blackjack tables in the high limit room at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin was recently lowered from $200 to $100.

The September line-up in the poker room at Blue Chip Casino Hotel in Michigan City once again includes affordable no-limit Texas Hold'em tournaments every Friday (The Big Blue Challenge), Sunday (The Blue Chip Showdown), and Tuesday (The Blue Chip Shootout). Visit www.bluechipcasino.com or call 888-879-7711 for details.

Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan is giving guests an opportunity to win $1 million every Sunday in September with a punchboard game. Four players will be selected on each promotion day. Each one will be asked to punch out three spots on the board. Select the winning combination of spots and win the grand prize of $1 million. Consolation prizes range from $1,000 to $8,500. An additional eight players will be chosen each Sunday to win a cash award of $1,000 each.

Entries for the Million Dollar Sundays promotion at Four Winds are earned by playing slots and table games using the casino's W Club Card.

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