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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Strange Casino Happenings

12 December 2001

Let's catch up on some mighty strange happenings in the world of casino gambling, starting with a pair of disputed 7-figure slot jackpots in Nevada:

First there's the case of Michael Bragg, a 57-year-old retired attorney. Last July he was playing a Millionaire 7's slot machine at the Texas Station Hotel & Casino in North Las Vegas. He had lost around $200 in the 2-coin dollar machine and was down to his last few credits when every slot player's dream came true for him.

Bragg lined up the jackpot 7's across the payline. The bells and whistles started and the celebration began for a whopping $1,192,000 pay day. After an unusually long wait (45 minutes) two Nevada control board agents and two casino managers approached. They told him that they would check the machine and the casino surveillance tapes. They would render a decision about his claimed jackpot within 30 days!

On Aug. 9 Bragg received a letter from the control board's enforcement division denying the jackpot. It seems that the Bally Gaming Tracking System report for the machine in question revealed that the progressive jackpot did not hit on the machine at the time of the disputed game. The report went on to say that if the super progressive jackpot had been achieved during the bonus game, the machine would have locked up and would no longer have been available for play.

To further complicate matters, there were no video surveillance tapes of the machine. Video records of progressive slot machines are not required by Nevada state gambling rules unless the average jackpot is $3 million or more.

Evidence showed the machine did not lock up after the disputed game. Furthermore, all of the credits had been played off the machine.

Bragg is appealing to the control board hearings examiner in hopes the ruling made by the enforcement division will be overturned.

The Nevada gaming control board arbitrates some 1,000 slot and table game disputes between gamblers and casinos every year. Nearly 90 percent of the disputes are decided in favor of the casinos. A vast majority of the disputes revolve around game malfunctions, misunderstood award listings, and video poker machines with defective hold buttons.

Yet another Nevada slot jackpot discrepancy happened in August at the Eldorado Hotel & Casino in Reno. Francesca Galea, 29, was playing a $1 Wheel of Fortune slot machine when she said the winning symbols popped up across the payline on her very first play, giving her every reason to believe she had won the $2.8 million progressive jackpot.

Seconds after the jackpot symbols appeared, the reels started into a slow spin mode. A slot technician came by and told her the play wasn't legitimate.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reported the machine had malfunctioned. When the first reel started to spin it touched a maintenance card and went into "tilt" mode.

Five days later, the same jackpot, which had grown to over $3 million, was won by somebody playing the Wheel of Fortune progressive at Harrah's Laughlin.

Finally, at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., gamblers have the opportunity to play tic-tac-toe against a live chicken in the $10,000 Chicken Challenge. Anyone who beats the chicken will win $10,000 cash on the spot. Honest. The only catch is that the chicken goes first every time.

There is a "coop" of 15 of the tic-tac-toe chickens. The birds work in shifts of one to two hours. The "on duty" chicken is housed in a windowed booth with a video tic-tac-toe screen inside. After the bird pecks the first X or O, the player responds on the game outside the booth and play continues until there is a decision. The game is open to any member of the Tropicana Diamond Club. It's free and is limited to one game per person per day.

The chickens are trained on a farm in Tennessee. It is said the chickens are tic-tac-toe experts that never lose. There are billboards all around Atlantic City promoting the $10,000 Chicken Challenge. That's scary.

Editor's Note: After John filed this story, two players in a row beat the chicken.

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