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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Ready for EZ Pay? You Bet We Are!

20 August 2003

I'll admit to giving cashless slot machine technology a lukewarm reception when it was first introduced to selected casinos in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. Silencing the sounds of coins cascading into trays and experiencing the joy of scooping them into buckets and marching to the cashier seemed to be one of the simpler pleasures of a casino outing.

The evolution of slot machines from mechanically driven reel games to electronic computer-driven marvels of the modern age has made coin-in/coin-out play a relic, not to mention an inconvenience. Coin play on modern electronic gaming devices is as archaic as having a "carriage return" key on your laptop.

International Game Technology's patented "EZ Pay" ticket-in/ticket-out cashless slot system is taking the gaming world by storm. Its initial test marketing success in the smaller locals-oriented casinos in Las Vegas has spawned a proliferation of the system in gaming jurisdictions throughout the country.

Mandalay Resort Group just announced it has agreed to purchase between 2,000 and 3,000 new machines with the EZ Pay technology already installed, plus it plans to retrofit several thousand existing machines to add ticket printers. The Luxor and Mandalay Bay resorts on the Las Vegas Strip will be the first casinos targeted for the upgrades.

As soon as EZ Pay is approved by the Illinois Gaming Board, look for casino destinations in the Chicago-area to jump on the bandwagon. This could happen as early as the fourth quarter of this year.

Harrah's East Chicago Indiana property has been experimenting with a form of the EZ Pay system with its direct-mail cash back offers. Some of the offers are in the form of bar-coded tickets that can be redeemed instantly at selected slot machines by inserting them in the bill validator.

The aspect of modern slot play that has made playing with coins a thing of the past is the popularity of nickel multi-line video games. Physically playing these games by inserting coins is impractical, yet if you choose to cash out for amounts of under $100, you have to collect your money in the form of cold, hard coins.

If you start playing a nickel machine at a Chicago-area casino with a twenty-dollar bill (400 credits) and you run your bankroll up to forty dollars (800 credits), you have two choices: You either keep playing the machine you're at, or you hit the cash-out button, wait for 800 nickels to fall into the tray, collect the coins in a bucket, then stand in line at the cashier to have them counted.

If you were playing the same machine that was equipped with the EZ Pay system, you'd hit the cash-out button and use touch-screen technology to have a bar-code ticket printed out in the amount of $40.00. You could then either save the ticket to redeem at the cashier at a later time, or simply go to another machine, insert the ticket in the bill validator, and start playing all over again.

The EZ Pay technology eliminates handling dirty coins and being tied to a machine waiting for a hopper fill or a hand-pay. It eliminates lugging around plastic buckets of coins and having to wait in line for them to be counted.

Lest you think the EZ Pay system is just a cost and time-saving device for the casinos, there are ways players can manipulate the technology to make it more efficient to play and easier to collect and more importantly, keep, your winnings. Next week I'll explain.

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