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The Almighty Buck Technology

Malfunction Costs Couple $11 Million Slot Machine Jackpot 479

Posted by timothy
from the oopsie-daisy dept.
ainandil writes "Engineering mistakes, while frustrating, seldom definitively alter the end user's life. Not so in Cripple Creek, Colorado — MaryAnn and Jim McMahon thought their money troubles were over when they hit an $11 million jackpot at a casino Tuesday. Before paying the jackpot, the Wildwood Casino turned the machine over to the Colorado Gaming Division for inspection. A glitch was found, aha! The Wildwood Casino blamed a slot machine malfunction for the $11 million jackpot. Total actually won by the McMahons? $1,627.82."
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Malfunction Costs Couple $11 Million Slot Machine Jackpot

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  • Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:21PM (#32470300)

    Let's be clear. The 'engineering mistake' was that the machine hit the jackpot.

    • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:45PM (#32470444)

      Let's be clear, it's called "welching," the casino should pay out the jackpot and the slot machine maker should pay the casino for his "engineering mistake." Nevada (or wherever) should enact a law such as that, but it won't happen soon. And it's why part of the reason not to gamble in the first place.

      • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ls671 (1122017) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:51PM (#32470478) Homepage

        About having the machine inspected when you lose to make sure no 'engineering mistake' were made ?

        This is stupid, it should be like in baseball where faulty referee calls are considered part of the game. Especially since I have never heard of machine getting inspected when you lose ;-)

        • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:26PM (#32470680)

          They're inspected regularly, which is approximately how often the players lose.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Le Marteau (206396)

          OK, how about this: A blackjack dealer tells a customer he has won $11 million dollars.

          Should the casino have to pay the customer $11 million dollars because of a faulty dealer?

          • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by magarity (164372) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:17PM (#32471710)

            Did the machine just say they won or did the wheels spin around and come up triple bar? That's more like the dealer dealing a winning hand and then saying it didn't count because the cards weren't shuffled well enough.

          • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Xeno man (1614779) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:47PM (#32472958)
            The dealer isn't part of the game. It's the dealers job to run the game. The game it self determines winners and losers. If I'm playing blackjack and I have 25 and the dealer says winner, that is his mistake and I'm not entitled to any winnings. If I hit a blackjack and the dealer says looser, I am entitled to my winnings. If the dealer is not shuffling correctly and I'm winning, that's the casinos problem to fix but that doesn't change my past winnings or losses. If I don't like the way the dealer is shuffling, it's up to me to walk away from the table.

            As for the slot machine, if the wheels all came up jackpot, they should get the money, regardless of any errors the machine may have had. If the wheels came up anything else but said jackpot anyway, then no they shouldn't win. It's as simple as that. If casinos want their games run by computers, they need to accept any errors they make. No different when an employee fucks up.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus (253617)

          Worse, it's probably completely illegal for them to do that. If the machine has a fault, it is not the player's problem. It is the problem of the people making the gambling machine available. They should be required to pay the full amount.

          I haven't read the article yet, but I'll bet the winners file a law suit over it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Glendale2x (210533)

        Every machine here in Nevada says right on the front "malfunction voids play" or something similar.

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:01PM (#32470906) Homepage Journal

          Every machine here in Nevada says right on the front "malfunction voids play" or something similar.

          And clearly, a jackpot is a major malfunction for the casino owners.

        • by cynyr (703126)
          well if the machine is always in a state of "malfunction" and the owner doesn't care if the win is below ${SMALLVALUE} but when it is ${VALUE} they take the machine in and wow.. look at that... it's "Malfunctioning" again. IT should be that they machines needs a 2x per month inspection, if the last time it was was over 14 days, the win of the player stands. The casino needs to be proactive in finding malfunction or it eats the cost. Of course the last few times i went to the casino it wasn't to win, but to
        • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @05:57PM (#32471586) Homepage Journal

          >> "malfunction voids play"

          It should say that on electronic voting machines too.

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:18PM (#32471716)

          And in *this* country, a malfunction would be too bad for the casino owner, and they'd still have to pay out. If they had a problem with doing that, they'd have to take it up with their insurance company, or with that of the company that caused the malfunction.

          Yet another reason why things are royally borked in the US....

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Blue Stone (582566) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:22PM (#32471750) Homepage Journal

          Then the onus should be on the casino to ONLY allow functional machines to operate and be played.

          If the machine is on the floor, the casino is stating that the machine has been tested and is fit-for-purpose. Otherwise they're essentially saying, these machines might be broken; where the error would result in OUR loss we will void your winnings; where the error might be your loss, that's tough cheese.

          That's basically a scam. The law should be changed, or they should basically admit that 'anything goes' and the casino can always weasel out of any situation. (Maybe in big neon letters above the door).

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by icebike (68054) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:04PM (#32472266)

          They also list the maximum payout.

          Anything above that automatically must be a malfunction.

          If under that maximum value, there is no other basis for claiming malfunction.

    • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fearlezz (594718) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:53PM (#32470484) Homepage

      That actually was a mistake.

      I read an article a while ago about a guy who uploaded the software of a slot machine to a vmware-like environment. This way, he could revert back to the very same state over and over again. The machine always gave the user the impression that if he had made another decision, he would have won the jackpot. Except for when the user actually made that decision.

      So I think any slot machine paying big bucks is either programmed to do so periodically as a way of marketing the casino or otherwise suffering from a serious bug.

      • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by twistedsymphony (956982) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:04PM (#32470554) Homepage
        I worked in an arcade repairing machines for 3 years... we bought a few dozen decommissioned slot machines from casinos that I retrofitted to dispense prize tokens as opposed to money.

        I can tell you that the machines are absolutely programmed to make you lose even if you hit the buttons at the exact right time to stop the rollers. Basically the operator programs the payout to be a ratio of the money deposited. Our machines were programmed to dispense 2 cents worth of prize tokens for every 25 cents deposited. The machine word operate honestly until the ratio got too far in the user's favor, then it would cheat on the last roller to correct the ratio. a jack pot scenario would only be allowed to happen if the ratio was already deep in the favor of the operator.

        It was pretty comical, with the machine open I could stop the rollers right in the position I wanted by hand, and if the machine decided to "correct" the ratio it would use the stepper motor to index the last roller one or two positions past where I had stopped it. Pretty much undetectable to the human eye while the thing is spinning.
        • twistedsymphony hints at a major point: the McMahons or a trusted representative didn't retain control of or an eyeball on the device between the gaming floor and the offices of the Colorado Gaming Division.

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:23PM (#32470666)

          I've always assumed most games of 'skill' are rigged. Remember those Storm Stopper games that look like a glass dome with the spinning light that you try to catch on the jackpot (you see them at Chuck E. Cheese places)? Every time, I hit it on either side of the jackpot. You'd think that I'd have at least 1/3 chance of getting if if that's the case, but I rarely actually got it. I would think that most games even outside casinos (cranes, stackers, those vertical ones with the red lights) that appear to be be dependent on skill are, once you hit a certain level, mostly luck. They're kinda fun to put a few quarters in, and I get that someone has to make money, but still, rigging is rigging.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            The light accelerates or slows down in the vicinity of the jackpot light. Also, the jackpot bulb resistance could be different. So yes to some extent it's luck but it is winnable.

            I win these pretty frequently when I take my family to these places, but when I stop and reflect, even 25 cents (best case scenario) for 100 "tickets" or whatever the reset value of the jackpot is, turns out to be a pretty shitty deal when you see what you can redeem 100 tickets for (and more realistically, I spend at least 10 qu

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Tuidjy (321055)

            You are exactly right. It is actually illegal in some jurisdiction (Nevada, at least) to make a gambling machine where the user's skill can influence the outcome. Even the ones that look like a video game where you control an avatar (a dude, a car or a spaceship) are absolutely not rewarding skill or penalizing inability.

          • by sirwired (27582) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @07:52AM (#32474698)

            In high-school I was a game tech at an arcade across the street. (A dream job for a geek! Much better than McD's, even though McD's paid better.)

            The manual for Cyclone/Storm Stopper, etc. explicitly let you set the number of mSec the jackpot light would be lit. The manual also included suggested payout layouts and jackpot light times for maximum play at specific average payouts. (i.e. if you want five tickets average per play, set up the non-jackpot lights like this, the jackpot minimums and increment like that, and jackpot light time for another value.) It was a delicate balancing act involving many tradeoffs. Starting the jackpot large and incrementing quickly gets a lot of players attracted to the machine, but the ensuing need to drop the non-jackpot payouts causes players to leave quickly. Setting the jackpot timing too fast means some moron who puts a couple of hundred tokens in the thing will take his compulsive gambling somewhere else. (Yes, we had compulsive gamblers at a kiddie arcade; we had a setup where you could "bank" tickets long-term, so you could save tickets over months to save up for a CD player or a TV. We dropped the average ticket value for the higher-end prizes to keep highly-skilled players from costing us too much.)

            Our arcade machines were not bright enough to adjust parameters based on average payout, but they were all adjustable, which we did by monitoring the token and ticket counters for each machine on a weekly basis. If a machine paid out too high or two low, we would adjust the odds and/or payouts.

            For the arcade overall, we shot for an average of 7 tickets (worth about a penny each) for each token (worth about 21.7 cents each.)

            SirWired

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hduff (570443) <hoytduff&gmail,com> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:45PM (#32470832) Homepage Journal

          All games of "chance" and "skill" (like carnival games) are deliberately skewed in favor of the owner, otherwise there would be no profit in owning them. They are meant for entertainment of the customers, not their retirement plan. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.

          That said, the owners could be less greedy.

          • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Interesting)

            by thoughtfulbloke (1091595) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:24PM (#32471026)
            When you try to throw a ring over a peg at a carnival, there is the assumption that there is a very, very small chance you might win. But as this recent case [bbc.co.uk] (involving statistics, forensics, and side-show con artists) shows, in the U.K. at least the odds can't be too far in the houses favour.
        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Informative)

          by this great guy (922511) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @05:37PM (#32471462)

          Just like these claw crane games that you find in vide arcades or amusement parks: those with a joystick to control a crane to grab stuffed animals or whatnot. Curious, one day I browsed the web to find operator's manuals, and they are programmed to make it look like the crane accidentally drops objects. The operator can enter parameters to define the average price of prizes, the average winning rate, etc so that in the end, just like slot machines, the payout percentage can be controlled very precisely. For more info read Machine configuration and chances of winning [wikipedia.org].

          Knowing this completely takes the fun out of it, doesn't it ?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by loshwomp (468955)

            Just like these claw crane games that you find in vide arcades or amusement parks

            Dubious programming craw crane games is just a red herring. The real scam with those crane games is that the prizes inside aren't worth the money even if you had a 100% success rate in grabbing them.

      • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:31PM (#32470726)

        UK fruit machines they are not the same as US game as they pay out to a target % and do cheat you on high / low and other bonus games.

        http://www.fairplay-campaign.co.uk/fruit/ [fairplay-campaign.co.uk]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          In the U.S., in every jurisdiction I am aware of, slot machines are by law fixed to pay out a certain percentage of the amount that is put into them. I do not know the numbers, but a slot machine, by law, may not pay out more than a certain percentage or less than a certain lower percentage of the money played in it.
      • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:32PM (#32470734)

        When I was younger, the local football club used to sell scratch-cards in the town each weekend. They sold them for years. They were 25p each, with a max possible win of £20. I can remember buying a few from time to time, maybe winning £1 very occasionally.
        Then, when we were about 14 somebody found out that a shed near the football club had boxes and boxes full of these unopened (and by then out-of-date) cards, and we took tens of thousands of them. We would spend ages scratching them off, looking for 'winners'. Took so long, that we gave up on that and we learnt just to scratch of the 'void if removed' box and recognise the most common codes... something like 18414 would always mean a loser, 85413 would be a £1 winner etc... we were always looking for a really unusual number that would be the £20 winner.
        Any we never found one, not one £20 winner, despite examining tens of thousands of cards over several months.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cylix (55374) *

        A great deal of the confusion regarding games of chance is that they are actually games of chance. This a heavily regulated economy from the slot machines in vegas to the super stacker II game in the local pub.

        Every machine has a payout ratio and slots actually tend to be closer to 1. This is essentially how all games of chance function and much like some other posters have pointed out... it is how the machines are designed.

        Legally, the unit is set to within a specific level of commission for payout. In the

        • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by ultranova (717540) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @05:33PM (#32471432)

          The system works both ways with the advantage being to the house. They know when the payout has been incorrectly dispensed because there is a tightly held ratio that should be observed. All large payouts will also require the machine to be inspected. There will be no slipping through the cracks on foul play.

          A machine that guarantees a certain percentage of return within a certain time window (probably measured in games played) is not random. If it's not random there's a pattern to how it dispenses winnings. If there's a pattern to it, it should be possible to notice which machines are about to increase their payoff to even the ratio, so it just might be possible to increase your rate of return.

          Of course this doesn't guarantee that you can get it over 1. And it especially doesn't guarantee that the casino won't declare you a cheater and ban you, or do something nastier - frankly, these parasites are worse than Al Capone, who at least was providing an actual service to his customers.

      • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:5, Informative)

        by rhvarona (710818) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @07:46PM (#32472172)
        I worked for a while for a company that makes software for modern slot machines.  Each state and indian reservation has different rules, but in the one we wrote software for it works almost like a roll of scratch-off lottery tickets.

        When developing a new game, the company decides on the payout, for example, 95%, which means that on average, out of every $1 played, the company pays out 95 cents back to the players.  The company then decides on the prize distribution, for example (not a real game distribution, just an example):
        Count   Prize   Payout Amount
        387,251 0       0
        10,000  1       10,000
        2,000   5       10,000
        500     25      12,500
        200     200     40,000
        30      1,000   30,000
        15      5,000   75,000
        3       30,000  90,000
        1       100,000 100,000

        400,000 136,231 367,500 Total

        So out of 400,000 games played of $1 each, the casino is paying out $367,500 and making $32,500 profit.  The prizes are randomized and the resulting distribution inspected to make it is distributed appropriately.

        The prize distribution is saved in a central casino database.  Every time a play happens, while the graphics or reels are moving, the machine talks to the central server over a secure network and requests the next available prize.  The server finds the next prize in the the list, marks it as played, and sends it to the machine.  If it is a win, lights flash, bells ring, etc.

        Casinos in general want big jackpots, as loud and as attention getting as possible, since it gets more players to play longer.  They have no interest in cheating you out out of big prize, since they are making money on average every time you play.  Their interest is to keep you putting in money into the machine as long as possible, and they do that by having jackpots as often as they have calculated they should do it.
    • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Informative)

      by failedlogic (627314) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:39PM (#32470792)

      "They actually won $1627.82," said Burmania, "The $11 million was what we call a 'reset value.' It's what the jackpot would have been after the prize was claimed."

      I don't get this last sentence it seems ambiguous. It seems to indicate to me that the "reset value", in this case an $11 million jackpot, would have been the prize on the next play. Had the couple been able to play one more round the prize -would- have been the $11 million. Since this mechanical error caused the machine to be shut down, the couple lost out anyways.

      I would think that 1 months' worth of business would easily have that casino lose more than $11 million. I'd say pay them out, or they risk losing more money long term.

      I thought the Gaming Commission was to be a neutral party. Instead, I found the rep's behavior in the video absolutely inappropriate since he's laughing throughout the interview.

      • Re:Mistake my ass. (Score:4, Informative)

        by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:30PM (#32471070) Homepage

        I thought the Gaming Commission was to be a neutral party.

        Sure, they're neutral. The same way MMS and Interior Dept were neutral in the BP oil spill. The gaming commission depends on the casinos for their livelihood, many of them come from a background in gaming. If there's no consequence for "mistakes" like this, they'll keep happening. There's no incentive to insure accuracy.

        I'd take that prize money and hire a lawyer, subpoena the machine records and the gaming commission investigation notes.

  • Law Suit!!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:22PM (#32470302)
    Its the American way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:23PM (#32470306)

    they'd left out the word "million" in a story title?

  • Lik they say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:23PM (#32470308)

    The House always wins.

  • by Jerry (6400) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:25PM (#32470324)

    in recent history that gambling casinos have used "mechanical problems" to evade honoring their promises?

    I wager it will be used again. After all, aren't most winners too poor to afford lawyers to fight the casinos? It's the same problem with corporate abuse of DRM and DMCA lawsl.

    • by icannotthinkofaname (1480543) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:39PM (#32470402) Journal

      After all, aren't most winners too poor to afford lawyers to fight the casinos?

      If I win my lawsuit, then I'll get $11 Million or $42 Million or whatever and be able to pay my lawyer. And I remember seeing ads on TV for law firms that don't charge unless they win your case.

      Or am I missing something important here?

      • by Josh04 (1596071) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:43PM (#32470434)
        The other side's lawyers charge. The court charges. No-win no-fee isn't no-cost.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Mr. Freeman (933986)
        "And I remember seeing ads on TV for law firms that don't charge unless they win your case."

        Those lawyers are probably about as qualified to handle a case as a parrot.
      • Tribal courts (Score:5, Interesting)

        by clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:31PM (#32471072)

        Or am I missing something important here?

        Most US casinos are operated by native American tribes. Their reservations are their own legal jurisdictions. If you have a problem, your recourse is to sue them in tribal court ... which, of course, is operated by the casino owner. Good luck with those odds. Pity the customer. And how about the employees? The casino employees I know here in Minnesota are keenly aware that their employment rights are severely limited.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ari_j (90255)
        Coincidentally enough, lawyers who take contingency fees do so on particular types of cases in which they can safely bet that, in the long run, they will come out ahead, just as a casino operates. By handling, for instance, 50 car-accident injury cases in a year, you can afford to win some, lose some, and settle most of them for where you and the other side think the odds line up.

        Why do I mention all this? Because it will only make economic sense to an attorney to handle this type of lawsuit on a conti
    • by mbone (558574) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:42PM (#32470422)

      Yes. From TOA

      "It's the second time in three months a Colorado slot machine has made a multi-million dollar mistake. In March, a machine malfunction was blamed for a $42 million dollar jackpot."

    • by Kaboom13 (235759) <kaboom108@be l l s o u th.net> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:42PM (#32470432)

      Generally slot machines have a posted maximum jackpot. I don't know about this case but in other cases like this the reported "winnings" have far exceeded the maximum the machine is supposed to possibly give out, as posted on the machine. The real issue here is how crappy the engineering must be on these machines, to allow this to happen so often it routinely makes then news. In my opinion all glitches should require a payout of the maximum possible winnings, which must be clearly posted on the machine, regardless of what it "should" have paid out. That would encourage casinos to invest in machines with actual sound engineering principles, without making them unfairly liable for massive amounts of money when a legitimate freak error occurs (even in the best systems, exceedingly rare circumstances could cause errors). It's a slot machine, it's a simple device, if they spend the money on reasonable robustness they can easily achieve extremely low error rates.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:51PM (#32470474)

        It's a slot machine, it's a simple device, if they spend the money on reasonable robustness they can easily achieve extremely low error rates.

        They already do. I've seen the engineering that goes into slot machines made in the USA, and know a little bit about the certification requirements and procedures. It's jaw-droppingly stiff. After all, these machines deal with *money* instead of mere lives.

        If the Colorado Gaming Division says the machine is defective, the couple should sue them for allowing it into service.

        Actually, the certification is done by a third party, so the couple should sue the casino and the certifier, and the CGD only if it doesn't revoke the certifying agency's license to certify in their state.

    • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:15PM (#32470604) Journal
      What I don't understand is how when something goes wrong on the part of the gamer, the Casino can treat the transaction between the slot machine and gambler as a binding contract, yet when something goes wrong because of a fault on their end they can say "oops, we goofed - let's call it off"

      I've heard of a couple of jackpots a while back called off because a user entering the coin, or pulling the lever, or even present while someone they knew gambeled was under the legal gambling age at the time and the jackpot was called off.

      It seems only fair then that a goof on their end should not be able to nulify the standing "contract."

      It should be the responsibility of the casino to test their equipment (or buy from only the most reliable sources which are well tested.) If there was a glitch in the machine itself, the casino should be responsible to pay out and able to sue the company that made the slot machine.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:57PM (#32470886) Homepage

      Well, here's a follow-up on that $42.9M story [denverpost.com]:

      At the time, the top award on the slot, a progressive game that takes a percentage of bets placed in all similar machines, was $251,183.16. But to be eligible for the top award, a maximum wager of 400 credits, or $4, was required. Chavez's 40-cent wager was eligible for a prize of 20,000 credits, or $200, if she would have hit the progressive.

      So.... you're playing a 40 cent game for $200 max, who cares if it shows 42 millions when it's impossible? I can tell you what happened too, a 32 bit unsigned has a max of 4,294,967,295 <-- seem familiar? Somehow a subtraction lacked a bounds check and it underflowed to be UINT_MAX cents. And for that they should pay out 200,000 times her largest possible theoretical winnings? Sorry, but I'll side with the casino on this one.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:58PM (#32471236)

        Absolutely they should pay the amount the machine says the player won. If that's a bug then they can deal with the slot machine manufacturing/distributing company, but pay the player what the machine says is due.

        Simply put, the machine should pay the proper amount on all pay combinations. A machine should never lock up except for a genuine winning combination that triggers a handpay, and all touchscreen elements should work 100% of the time on the first touch. These newer video slots with 50 lines, 100 lines, 243 ways to win, 1024 ways to win, etc. if they can't find a way to make those machines absolutely and 100% bug free with all spin combinations tested and verified--then those machines should be illegal meaning the manufacturer cannot sell them to the casinos and the casinos cannot install them for players to play.

        After all, the machine will glady take all of a player's money even if they don't win anything, even if their "bonus" round results in zero extra credits, and if there is a malfunction that doesn't pay it's often hidden by all those obscure line shapes so that a player really can't scan all of those pay lines during a free spins bonus round before the next free spin occurs.

        "Malfunction voids all pays and plays" should be illegal too, if the machine might malfunction, it should be illegal.

      • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @05:05PM (#32471288) Homepage

        If a construction crane malfunctions and ends up killing a bunch of people, should the construction company get to avoid liability simply because the machine malfunctioned?

        In this case it involves money rather than lives, but I see no reason why casinos should not be liable for problems with the machines they operate.

  • Winnings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:27PM (#32470334)
    So the casino isn't responsible for the operating condition of their machines, or for standing behind the results said machines promise customers? Why can the gambling industry get away with something we would never tolerate from power companies, car manufacturers, clothing companies, etc.?

    They paid for a chance to win, and the machine told them they'd won. It's like buying a new shirt, finding a giant hole in it, and Banana Republic says "Sorry, the sewing machine was miscalibrated! No, we won't take it back. Maybe you can use it as leg warmers or something!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cheebie (459397)

      The slot machines have very clearly printed disclaimers that all malfunctions void the entire transaction. They will get the original bet returned. That's the equivalent of taking that defective shirt back to the store and getting a refund.

      It's disappointing for the people that they didn't win their jackpot, but the rules are presented very clearly beforehand.

      • Re:Winnings (Score:5, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:21PM (#32471008) Journal

        The slot machines have very clearly printed disclaimers that all malfunctions void the entire transaction. They will get the original bet returned.

        Fine, so long as they refund ALL players that ever put money in that slot machine. You don't get to just pick and choose who gets a refund, and who does not.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:29PM (#32470348)

    What's wrong with just writing a dry summary? It's more pleasant to read and lets the facts of the situation speak for themselves:

    "MaryAnn and Jim McMahon of Cripple Creek, Colorado were playing at the Wildwood Casino, Tuesday, and hit an $11 million jackpot on a slot machine. Before paying the winnings, the casino turned the machine over to the Colorado Gaming Division for inspection. After deciding that the win was due to a malfunction, the couple was paid only $1627.82 in winnings."

    Reading this revised version doesn't make me sick and want to punch someone for trying to be witty and entertaining (that is, annoying and stupid).

    • The "only" in there is judgemental, throw it out or it's not a dry summary... (disclaimer: I used the figure of speech "hyperbole")
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlstead (636356)

      It doesn't? They just introduce an error somewhere and *you* don't get paid after winning the jackpot? This makes me sick to the stomach. Let's just turn them over to the Gaming Division each time people loose or win a small amount, shall we? Maybe I was supposed to win the jackpot! Who can tell?

    • What's wrong with just writing a dry summary? It's more pleasant to read and lets the facts of the situation speak for themselves:

      "MaryAnn and Jim McMahon of Cripple Creek, Colorado were playing at the Wildwood Casino, Tuesday, and hit an $11 million jackpot on a slot machine. Before paying the winnings, the casino turned the machine over to the Colorado Gaming Division for inspection. After deciding that the win was due to a malfunction, the couple was paid only $1627.82 in winnings."

      Reading this revised version doesn't make me sick and want to punch someone for trying to be witty and entertaining (that is, annoying and stupid).

      You know what this summary is missing? Exclamation points! Exclamation points — and m-dashes. Perhaps a smidge of sarcasm, and an acronym! Here, let me fix this for you:

      "MaryAnn and Jim McMahon — of Cripple Creek, Colorado — were playing at the Wildwood Casino on Tuesday, and hit an $11 million jackpot on a slot machine! Before paying the winnings, the casino turned the machine over to the Colorado Gaming Division (CGD) for inspection. After the CGD determined that the win was due to a "malfunction", the couple was paid only $1627.82 in winnings. :("

      Also, I threw in a frowny face. Now it's dry - and yet somehow exciting and suspense-filled! A

  • by Fuzzums (250400) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:29PM (#32470350) Homepage

    Have the machine inspected by your local independent hacker.
    He'll find a glitch. Aha! You should have won 11.000.000.000!

  • So now casinos just need something which they say that works in a way and if it works another way they don't pay the announced prize but what they say it should be (of course it's what the machine should have shown, but how do you know there really was a mistake?).

    It used to be a good idea to check if a machine does what it is intended for, but this is supporting a I-don't-care behavior, because casinos can get rid of programming/coding errors by sending machines to some inspection *after* the error gets vi

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Unlikely, unless the machine listed the $11 million figure, I doubt that they have to pay it out. It's piss poor engineering if the "reset value" is shown to the person playing the machine. The house cheat enough as it is, if they're presenting the gambler with a claim of that much money, then they damn well better pay out.
  • Oh, come on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mbone (558574) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:37PM (#32470378)

    Look, if they found evidence of fraud or tampering, throw the book at them. Otherwise, them's the breaks - pay the couple.

    The casino deserves to be pilloried and lose their gaming license over this. It's bad enough you can be ejected or even banned for being too good at playing something. Now, it seems that they are extending this to games of chance. This seems a little too pat, as the casinos could avoid ever paying out anything by simply making sure that their slots always have some technical flaws.

  • by Azarael (896715) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:38PM (#32470390) Homepage
    Seriously, how often is it the case that machines pay out *LESS* than they are meant to. We'll never know and I don't anyone in the industry is looking very hard to find out. Code and electronics aren't perfect, but that isn't the player's fault. Perhaps players cannot be paid out in full in all cases, but the awarded prize shouldn't be miniscule.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The industry works very hard to find out, as it turns out. Every slot machine ships with what's called a PAR sheet -- this lists the actual odds of each pay for the machine, along with 95% confidence intervals on payout for various amounts of play. The casino will then have its slot technicians verify that the machines are paying exactly what they expect. There are legal reasons why they have to do this, but the self-interested incentive for the casino to do this is because they do not usually like to run t

  • by PKFC (580410) <{pkfc} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:39PM (#32470398)

    "I saw a billboard for the lottery. It said, "Estimated lottery jackpot 55 million dollars." I did not know that was estimated. That would suck if you won and they said, "Oh, we were off by two zeroes. We estimate that you are angry!""

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:41PM (#32470414)

    A woman recently won like 42 million in a jackpot and they refused to pay her saying it was a bug.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/colorado-42-mil-jackpot-winner-jack/story?id=10235836 [go.com]

    A quick google shows that this happens all the time, whenever someone wins a large number its always blaimed on a bug, and for some magical reason the winners do not get paid.

    The casino's are ripping winners off.

    • Winners? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Petersko (564140) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:56PM (#32470510)
      "The casino's are ripping winners off."

      I'm reluctant to classify slots players as "winners". When I look at slot machines I see rats in cages desperately pushing the dispenser in the hopes of getting a food pill. Soemetimes they get a food pill, but more often a little blade comes out and cuts off a piece of the rat.

      But we can soften it a bit... they're "people who were awarded a slot machine jackpot". ... or, at least were supposed to be awarded one...
  • by VuduZen (1000685) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:45PM (#32470446)
    I live in Argentina and about two or three years ago a woman won like 3 million Argentinian Pesos in slot machine. The casino claimed it was a fault of the machine. They went to court and the woman won because it didnt matter if it was a machine error, she did not cheat or anything. So whatever the problem was, it had nothing to do with the woman. She played, she won, she should receive her prize. The real problem was between the casino and the company they bought the slot machine from. So the woman was left out of the equation.
    • by Renraku (518261) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:35PM (#32470756) Homepage

      United States corporations work on extortion. The legal system favors corporations far too much to have a fair chance in court. If you bring suit against a large company and lose you'll probably have to pay their legal fees too, and 80% of the citizens here could not ever hope to afford those kinds of expenses. The result is that not many people file suit, and most of the ones that do are just plain crazy and have no qualms with being a million or more in debt for the rest of their lives.

      This is EXACTLY THE SAME as saying, "Sorry, no refund on your car. The welding machine messed up and welded the doors shut. We aren't responsible for what our machines do." and then saying, "We sent this to our legal department and they agree that it wasn't our fault the welding machine messed up so we don't have to pay you."

    • by fnj (64210) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:30PM (#32471068)

      Congratulations for living in a country that does not have a corrupt legal system. Wish I could say the same.

  • by Ozlanthos (1172125) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @02:51PM (#32470472)
    After pissing all over the message boards about how unjust this action was, I investigated further. To my dismay, it turns out that this is a popular practice among casinos. Apparently one of the problems with going to digital slots is that ANYTIME there is a huge win that the casino doesn't want to pay out on, they cop this "it was a glitch" excuse! I was given the impression that this is happening EVERYWHERE!!! I think it is time that we implement some sort of law or gaming regulation that states that if someone wins that they are ENTITLED TO THE FULL SUM DISPLAYED on the screen! The only exception would be that if the casino can prove that the win was "artificially" created/induced by the player via some "device" designed specifically to fuddle the machine. The penalty for not paying out the sum within 24 hours would be that the casino would be immediately CLOSED and their gaming license REVOKED for a full calendar year, or until the full sum was paid to the player! If you can't stand to lose, don't play the game....The same should apply to the casinos!

    -Oz
  • Insurance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adbge (1693228) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @03:23PM (#32470662)
    Shouldn't the casino have some kind of insurance against this type of thing? Say, they have to pay out, but the insurance covers it since the machine was faulty. I suppose the manufacturer is probably ultimately responsible, so perhaps the manufacturers insurance should cover it.

    At any rate, it doesn't seem very okay that the manufacturer can just ship faulty machines and not be held accountable.
  • by Aaden42 (198257) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @04:01PM (#32470910) Homepage

    Stand on the street corner, *just* off the casino's property on the public sidewalk / shoulder of the road / etc. Hold a huge sign stating nothing but the facts of the case: We played the slots, the machine said we won big, the casino claimed technical difficulties and reneged on the large payout for a comparatively minuscule one. Stand there quietly with the sign, don't harass anyone approaching the casino, and only respond purely factually to any questions that any would-be patrons or other passers by might ask. Embelish nothing; use simple, unemotional, declarative statements. Say nothing that could vaguely be interpreted as opinion or that would be impossible to verify.

    Say nothing untrue, nothing emotionally charged, stay *off* the casino's property, and do nothing to block anyone or prevent them from going about their business as they see fit.

    See how long that takes to get at the very least a settlement offer. I'm guessing the casino manager would have legal on the phone in under 10 minutes and an offer made in under an hour. Might have to sweat them a little longer to hold out for a *reasonable* offer, but they'd definitely walk away a fair bit richer than the insult the casino gave them.

  • by SEE (7681) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @05:40PM (#32471488) Homepage

    If they're paid, it becomes easy to use a casino for money laundering. Walk into the casino with a bunch of cash you obtained illegally, dump it as a high roller at the craps table, hit the deliberately-broken slot machine your accomplice in the casino management set up to get most of your money back, and when you go to the bank and have to explain where you got the money you're depositing, hey, you won it from a slot machine, perfectly legal source.

    To stop that, when a big payout is hit, the machines are audited by the gaming commission and checked for errors. If there is one, you don't get the payout, so a crooked casino manager can't set up a broken machine as part of a money-laundering operation.

  • 6 words (Score:3, Informative)

    by pak9rabid (1011935) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:51PM (#32472714)
    "Malfunction voids all pays and plays" Look closely...you'll see this in fine print on all slot machines. Legally, if the casino can prove that the machine malfunctioned, they're not required to pay out. Yeah, it sucks, but an intelligent person would already know slot machines are a racket anyways.

Between infinite and short there is a big difference. -- G.H. Gonnet

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