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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Paying For Your Slot Jackpot

11 June 1999

Have you ever been lucky enough to win a hand-paid slot jackpot, then have the attendant request that you "spin off" your winning combination by asking you to insert another coin or play one of the credits you have earned on the machine?

A loyal reader of this column, Richard L. of Chicago, had it happen to him earlier this year. He was playing a $25 machine aboard the Showboat Mardi Gras Casino in East Chicago, Ind., and hit a jackpot worth $2,000. After he signed the IRS forms which are required by the federal government for all slot jackpots amounting to $1,200 or more, Richard was hand paid his $2,000 in cash. Then the discrepancy began. Richard writes:

"...now the casino floor person says I have to spin off the win. Of course this means I put a $25 coin in the machine. Since I'm reasonably sure that another win won't show back-to-back, I said I'd rather not do that. She insisted I had to do it. With the security guard standing there it is intimidating, so I put a coin in and spun the reels off. Feeling that this was a bit of a high price to pay, I went to see the slot marketing manager...after checking to find out this was not an Indiana state gaming rule, that it is in fact only a house request, she gave me a Café Orleans dinner comp for two. She advised that if this happened again to ask for the floor manager and that she would speak to all of her people in this regard."

Richard's letter brings up a very interesting question. Just what is the policy in Indiana and in Illinois requiring slot players to spin off winning hand-paid jackpots? Do you have to play even if you don't want to? To find some answers, I contacted the Indiana Gaming Commission and was put in touch with public information officer Jennifer Byrd:

"At Indiana riverboat casinos, patrons are asked to 'spin off' jackpots," Ms. Byrd said. "We would not approve of any situation in which a patron was felt he was being held hostage and forced to play against his will. It is the casino's first choice to request that the patron spin off the jackpot combination, but if the patron refuses the casino has other options."

The Showboat Mardi Gras Casino, therefore, did address your concerns appropriately, Richard. Ms. Byrd added that the slot personnel with whom you dealt may have been new and unfamiliar with policy.

Of course, the main point of contention here is the fact you were playing a $25 machine. Spinning off the jackpot combinations on quarter, fifty cent, or even dollar machines represent a substantially smaller investment, and the euphoria of just having won a jackpot probably puts the person in a generous mood anyway!

What about policy in Illinois? I checked things out with Marianne Floriano, public information officer for the Illinois Gaming Board:

"Each riverboat casino in Illinois operates according to individual internal control standards," Ms. Floriano said. "If we received a question or complaint from a patron, we would review the internal procedure of the individual operator to determine if appropriate action was taken. If there was a violation then we would act accordingly."

Therefore, it would depend upon which Illinois riverboat casino you were playing in. It is highly unlikely that the internal control standards of any of them would force a jackpot winner to play more. If a dispute were to arise, however, the Illinois Gaming Board would respond to any complaint by reviewing a copy of the operator's internal control standards.

If in fact there is no violation and the casino operator made a business decision, there is also a public relations image to maintain. It's doubtful they would risk making an enemy of a patron over a dispute involving a few dollars.

Just remember to avoid feeling intimidated in a casino! It's your money and you can't be forced to play if you don't want to under any circumstances, even when it comes to a procedural matter such as spinning off a jackpot.

Don't forget, though, that contrary to what Richard L. believes, the random nature of slot play does not preclude the possibility of winning a jackpot back-to-back. So, if you don't use your own money to spin off the jackpot symbols and another winning combination lands on the payline, you won't be entitled to the winnings.

Editor's note: Casinos ask jackpot winners to play off their jackpots because many players mistakenly believe that a machine that has just paid a jackpot will not pay out again for a long time and may even go cold in order to win back the money it just paid out. These players won't play a machine with a high-paying combination displayed on its reels.

You are never required to play off a jackpot. If you refuse, the casino will usually take a coin from the hopper to play in the machine. Like John says, if that spin wins, you won't get the winnings.

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