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Malfunction Costs Couple $11 Million Slot Machine Jackpot

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oopsie-daisy dept.

The Almighty Buck 479

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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479 comments

Mistake my ass. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470300)

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

Re:Mistake my ass. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470478)

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 ;-)

Re:Mistake my ass. (2, Informative)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470588)

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

Re:Mistake my ass. (5, Interesting)

fearlezz (594718) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470484)

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. (5, Interesting)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470554)

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.

Security Only As Good As Physical Access Control (5, Insightful)

cmholm (69081) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470636)

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. (3, Interesting)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Law Suit!!!! (3, Insightful)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470302)

Its the American way.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470326)

"If you do hit a jackpot are they going to come up with another story? It's a malfunction? It's not right," Jim McMahon said.

What a crock of shit, I think they have a case.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (4, Informative)

casings (257363) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470352)

Won't matter. This has happened before and they have never had to pay out.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (5, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470524)

So presumably everyone who played the machine previously can claim their stakes back...the machine was faulty. You can't have it both ways.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (5, Insightful)

wygit (696674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470628)

Of course you can, if you have a few million to contribute to the whores who write the laws.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470614)

not necessarily true. I remember awhile back an indian casino refused to pay out due to a malfunction on a progressive and claimed soverign immunity.. and harrahs told them to pay out or they were removing all there progressive machines.. so they paid out.

Re:Law Suit!!!! (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470642)

Yes, it does seem to be happening a lot recently. Suspiciously so... And it should really stop since the majority of the casinos profit comes from slots, and if people stop trusting them, they stop playing them as much, and the casino tanks. Even more so, since this is a well distributed and common type of machine, if it happens at one casino, it will affect all of them. (Unlike having a dealer arrested for cheating, which mostly affects that one casino.)

It turns out (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470306)

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

Re:It turns out (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470344)

It turns out slashdot submissions are handled by the same slot machine code.

Isn't this the SECOND time ... (5, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (4, Interesting)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470402)

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?

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (5, Informative)

Josh04 (1596071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470434)

The other side's lawyers charge. The court charges. No-win no-fee isn't no-cost.

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (5, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470600)

The court charges, but in general, when you're talking about two parties with dramatically differing levels of available resources, the only time the smaller party pays for the larger party's attorney fees is if the lawsuit is frivolous (summary judgment) or if the law specifically provides for that (e.g. the defense loses certain types of suits). This is clearly not frivolous.

Besides, it would never go to court. The company would almost certainly settle out of court for a few hundred thousand just to get them to shut up. Otherwise, the story hits a few major networks, and that casino's business dries up because people suddenly realize that if they win big, the casino is just going to screw them out of the money.

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470608)

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?

Assuming they take your case. I knew someone that was in an accident and went to one of those lawyers. They told him to rack up a few thousand dollars in medical expenses and then call them back.

Never hire a lawyer who advertises.

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (4, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#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."

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (4, Insightful)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re: Isn't this the SECOND time ... (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re: Isn't this the SECOND time ... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470488)

Actually, the certification is done by a third party

Actually, that assumes that certification works in Colorado the same way it does in the state where I know how it works. If the CGD certifies the machines themselves, worse for them.

Re:Isn't this the SECOND time ... (5, Insightful)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470604)

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.

They should still pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470332)

If they can reap profits from a faulty machine that never pays out, they should equally be forced to pay out for faulty machines they leave on their floor. This shouldn't go both ways; either they ensure that all of their machines are in good order or they pay out for their faulty machines (with the obvious exception of tampering).

Winnings (4, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#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: Winnings (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470420)

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.?

There are *very* strict legal certification and tamper-resistance requirements for gambling machines in the USA. The software is about the quality of what they use on the space shuttle. I'll be astonished if the winners' case wouldn't stand up in court.

Re: Winnings (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470494)

"The software is about the quality of what they use on the space shuttle." That might explain the Challenger and Columbia.

Re: Winnings (2, Insightful)

flex941 (521675) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470534)

What are you smoking? I want it too! And btw, most of the politicians are not corrupted in any way.

there are strict Illegal certs on them also (2, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470542)

Back In the day a miscalibrated machine could get somebodies legs/arms/neck broken

Re:Winnings (2, Informative)

cheebie (459397) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470458)

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 (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470512)

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.
So using that logic after I pour several grand into a slot machine and don't win, I can demand that they pull the machine apart and if a defect is found they'll give me my money back? Didn't think so.

Re:Winnings (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470538)

They will get the original bet returned.

Yeah, but getting the original bet returned still isn't fair; that was my unspoken point. Why is the defectiveness of the machine only worrisome the one second per year it costs the house money, and fuck all the months and months it's just costing the worthless patrons money? Do they send the machine to the gaming commission post-haste if it seems to be paying out too little? If defects void transactions, why shouldn't every single dollar anyone's put into that machine since it's last clean inspection be returned, or at least forcibly donated to charity?

This bullshit about malfunctions voiding the transaction only protects the casino, and it literally never protects the patrons.

Re:Winnings (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470630)

I agree with you that in this case they should calculate the money made during the faulty period and either return it to customers if possible or donate to charity. They need an incentive to immediately fix a machine that shows any sign it is broken instead of waiting until the break hurts them instead of their customers. But I disagree that the rule NEVER protects the patrons.

I would guess that the majority of the time there's a malfunction (and probably the main reason for the rule) is when a person puts in a quarter, pulls on the lever and nothing happens. Maybe the quarter got jammed, maybe there's a short, who knows. In those cases, the patron can notify management that their machine isn't working and they'll return the person's quarter. If in the process of trying to fix the machine a bunch of quarters fall out the patron is not entitled to them. I think that's fair.

Re:Winnings (1)

Perp Atuitie (919967) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470546)

Oh well then -- that makes it all OK, as long as they said it wasn't their fault if they welsh on their bet. There was no malfunction until the Casino said there was after the fact. These guys are crooks. Period. Colorado should start a criminal fraud investigation and shut them and the certifier down. But it's Colorado. I do thank them for the tip, though. Next IRS return I'll put on a disclaimer that the entire transaction is void if I screw up the arithmetic. Think that'll work?

Re:Winnings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470594)

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!"

You are exactly right! As long as the shirt you bought cost $11,000,000.

eleven dollars (0, Offtopic)

thenextstevejobs (1586847) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470336)

In this economy, they're really going to be missing that $11. Maybe if they hit another jackpot they'll have enough for lunch.

Enough with the perky summaries (3, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#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).

Re:Enough with the perky summaries (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470372)

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:Enough with the perky summaries (1)

Djoulihen (1805868) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470482)

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:.

What's wrong with literature ?

Re:Enough with the perky summaries (2, Insightful)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470532)

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?

Re:Enough with the perky summaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470640)

Your "revised" version also contains a factual error -- thanks to a classic dangling participle error, your version winds up claiming that it was the couple who decided their own win was due to a malfunction!

Learn grammar before you try to correct other people's writing.

Re:Enough with the perky summaries (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470654)

What's wrong with just writing a dry summary?

Dry summaries don't get hits, click throughs, and readers. Nobody wants to read a dry summary and if it had one, you'd be asking why it was even posted. Why do you think we have so many Apple stories here lately. While I do think that they are relevant, even the people who are sick of them are reading and posting. If they're reading them, they must want them. Topics with lots of posts will get listed and if sensational headlines will get even more readers. It's a fact of news older than journalism.

Re:Enough with the perky summaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470664)

Wait, what? What? I'm sorry. I fell asleep reading the dry summary. Who won something?

Not winning? (3, Funny)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470350)

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

unreal (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470360)

I wonder if any kickbacks are secretly offered to the gaming officials to 'find engineering problems'. Corruption is everywhere, even in so called 'enforcement' government organizations. Pay the damn winners!

No need to check the code... (2, Interesting)

nunojsilva (1019800) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470362)

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 visible, and they aren't held responsible for it.

In fact, I wonder if I could just grab a machine and to the same kind of inspection on it to see if the 0 prize was really the intended one - or if the error makes the house win money noone looks at it?

I suppose this falls in some kind of breach of contract?

Re:No need to check the code... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470374)

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.

Re:No need to check the code... (1)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470424)

This is a ridiculous situation. Although harder to argue, a casino could claim that a card shuffling machine malfunctioned thus dealing a winning hand to a player by accident, or that a roulette table wasn't greased correctly so delivered the ball to the wrong pocket.

If it was me, I would get a court to subpoena the machine, get the error independently verified, and while they're at it, verify the winning odds the casino claim.

Oh, come on (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

FTFA... (1, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470380)

"MaryAnn and Jim McMahon thought their money troubles were over when they hit an $11 million jackpot at a Cripple Creek casino Tuesday. It turns out they were wrong."

Maybe it's just how I was raised, but the first thing I thought upon reading that was, "If you have 'money troubles' then why the fuck are you blowing what money you DO have in a casino, you assholes??? "

~Philly

Re:FTFA... (5, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470426)

Way to be a judgmental asshole.

I think they meant "money troubles" in that they needed to have money to live on, whereas with 11 million dollars they wouldn't.

Lighten the fuck up.

Re:FTFA... (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470462)

This kind of thinking is exactly why people like this have money problems to begin with. Rather than proper financial planning, they'd rather hold out for "something big" which never quite materializes. Its a mindset of wishful thinking.

Re:FTFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470672)

Actually, the phrase "money troubles" in that context doesn't mean "being poor". It is also an idiom that just means "ever having to worry about money", as in "they never have to worry about money again" is the same as "their money troubles are over"

Re:FTFA... (2, Insightful)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470574)

As one of my finance professors once told me, gambling (lotteries and casinos) is a tax on desperation and gullibility.

Re:FTFA... (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470592)

gambling is a form of entertainment. Even people with "money problems" (and they didn't discuss the magnitude, heck most people would say they have "money problems" of some sort) need entertainment. Gambling, done properly, can be a reasonably cheap form of entertainment. Particularly quarter slots.

But a previous poster was onto something when they said the previous players that day deserved a refund since they were also playing on a 'defective' machine that could have been meant to give out more than it did to them. "can't have it both ways" was the comment, spot on.

Taken another way, why can't *I* demand they take the machine to get inspected if I play it all day and don't win as much as I think I should have? If they can have it checked for faults not in their favor, and have them be binding, then so can I. You can't adjust the amount of review based on the outcome, which is exactly what they are doing here. It'd be like calling the opposing team for a review every time the refs made a call against you, but never when they made a call in your favor. In those cases both sides have equal power to call review. The same should apply here also.

Incentive to fix the machine? (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470382)

Seems to me, that if the casinos had to pay out these jackpots, that the machines might get fixed.

Adding to the irony, when I clicked the link to TFA, it popped up a flashing box declaring that I am the 1e6th visitor, I am a winner, I have won a "FREE*" "WALMART GIFT CARD!!" "*see offer details". In the words of the great Ashley Morris, FYYFF [typepad.com] . We really ought to hold corporations accountable for their advertising claims, and any disclaimers in a smaller (or non-contrasting, or scrolled far to the bottom) font do not count.

And What Recourse Do Players Have? (4, Informative)

Azarael (896715) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470390)

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:And What Recourse Do Players Have? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470688)

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 their machines as tight as the law allows, because players can and will notice and you'll end up losing $20 over the course of 20 minutes when you could have entertained them with a few wins and wound up winning $100 over the course of an evening. A casino is going to be very, very upset if their machines aren't holding PAR due to a defect in the machine, regardless of the direction of error.

Funny story about how sensitive players are to changes in payback: one time, a casino wanted to loosen up their machines, ie. make them pay back more, in order to build up a more loyal following. So they have all their vendors reset the machines with more generous paytables. Their regular players freaked out and started complaining. They could tell that the casino changed the math, but couldn't tell for sure that the math was now more in their favor. They ended up having to go back to tighter math to keep their existing loyal players.

This is a tough spot for the casino. They don't make the machines, and they certainly don't bankroll 7-figure jackpots -- in this case, in sounds like a straight-up glitch that a number that large was ever displayed, but even when it's intentional, they're not the ones on the hook to pay the jackpot when it hits. They buy them from companies like IGT (the Microsoft of the casino gaming world, basically) that are in turn required to submit them for fairly rigorous testing and review from outfits like GLI which ensure regulatory compliance and just that the machine really works as advertised. Still, IGT doesn't have the pissed off customer that thinks they won $11 million when the machine is only holding enough money to fund $1627.82 -- I used to work at a smaller outfit that did bonus features on games. We installed a pretty ambitious project for us, and on our first night running in this brand-new casino, we had an issue happen where due to a ridiculously subtle glitch, our device gave away one luxury car as designed, and then on the very next play, gave away another. Understandably, the casino guys were pretty upset with us, and we ended up paying for the second car.

The article here is really badly written. The spokesperson is quoted as saying that the $11 million was the reset value, but I don't understand how a jackpot is going to be designed to reset from a hit at $1627 to $11 million. Usually, a progressive or mystery jackpot will be "reset" to some amount that a casino will pay -- like $1000 -- and then a portion of every wager will be tossed into a pool of money that's added to that reset value. I'd be interested to know 1) what machine this was, and 2) when did it first display $11 million?

Mitch Hedberg called this one (4, Interesting)

PKFC (580410) | more than 3 years ago | (#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!""

Re:Mitch Hedberg called this one (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470464)

Why would I be angry at winning 5.5 billion dollars?

Re:Mitch Hedberg called this one (5, Informative)

wygit (696674) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470682)

It's "estimated" because the lottery winnings are a percentage of all tickets sold, and they haven't yet sold all the tickets for the next lottery.
They usually close the sales 15 minutes before the drawing.

What about when it tells you that you lost? (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470404)

What about when it tells me I lost? I'd like to have it examined because maybe I should have won $11M.

Don't play slots - they're a waste of time anyway. Stick to the tables.

Let the market decide. (1)

jms (11418) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470408)

Let's see if the Wildwood Casino experiences a drop in customers. There's no way in hell I would play the slots there.

Turnabout (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470412)

So if the couple had lost, could they have requested the machine be inspected by the Colorado Gaming Division and gotten the $1627.82?

Casino's blaim bugs all the time. Its a scam! (5, Interesting)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 3 years ago | (#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? (4, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#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...

Buggy title, should be: (1)

Nuuk (21775) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470418)

"Mistake Cost Couple $11 Million Slot Machine Jackpot".
No where in the article is there any mention of a $11 mistake.

I suppose a slot machine like any other machine will have bugs, it's hard to argue that the casino should be absolutely obligated to pay whatever some glitchy machine deals out.

Hope the casino gives the not-quite-winners a nice car or something at least.

Re:Buggy title, should be: (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470572)

Well, since Nuuk has certified that the title is buggy, that absolves me from any obligation to RTFA, right?

Something similar happened in Argentina (5, Interesting)

VuduZen (1000685) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Pay them (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470448)

Tough shit on the casino, pay them! Don't operate a casino and the scream robbery when someone eventually wins! There ain't no bug!

If they aren't going to pay out... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470466)

...maybe they should just open a bank.

Upon further investigation... (5, Insightful)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 3 years ago | (#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

That's why it's called gambling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470492)

Programming bugs happen all the time. When windows crashes on me, I don't expect Microsoft to pay me back because I have an operating system that doesn't actually work. Every slot machine has a "Malfunction voids all pays" warning. If you keep playing anyway, that's your own stupidity.

Re:That's why it's called gambling (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470516)

To put it in more accurate terms, this would be like those self-check outs saying that a $100 item was $1 and paying for it without tampering/stealing and then the store trying to retroactively get out of the agreement. Just because your employee put in the wrong price doesn't mean I shouldn't pay that lower price.

These days playing a slot machine is like playing with a random number generator. If your generator is broken and gives the winning amount, pay it. You should have made a better RNG.

Re: That's why it's called gambling (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470536)

Every slot machine has a "Malfunction voids all pays" warning.

Actually, ever slot machine in the USA has a sticker stating that it is certified. Next time you're in a casino, look for a paper sticker on the side or lower front of the machine.

If a casino is running uncertified machines, there's probably a jail cell waiting for their designated fall guy.

they should sue the fuck out of the Casino. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470504)

and the gaming board.

being a progressive jackpot, it probably had a big lighted board showing the prize. If they didn't realize it should've been reset, that's their fault. Pay the damn payout.

I'm calling bs (0, Redundant)

BobSutan (467781) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470520)

So they can get out of paying a jackpot for an engineering glitch, fine I'll accept there's a mistake. However, they need to pay up anyway. Why? Because other people are getting screwed out of their winnings by being told they lost, when they must have won due to engineering mistakes.

Everyone should claim they won, but the machine messed up. Force them to inspect each and every transaction. When they go broke from people being adamant about not getting screwed they'll just cut their losses.

Or, sue the ever living shit out of the casino for it.

Re:I'm calling bs (1)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470618)

No, you're misunderstanding. They didn't get their prize revoked because the machine said "Win" when it should have said "Lose". They lost the money because it's one of those progressive machines that has a sign on it that says what the current total is. If you win, you get some percent of the current jackpot, which is itself a percent of the total money people have been betting. And, if you hit the jackpot, you get whatever the sign says.

So, they saw a machine that says "11,000,000" on it, they won, and the casino is saying "Sucks to be you, that was a typo, it should have said eleven hundred not eleven million, here's your money now fuck off". Nobody was losing anything, because the error was that it the jackpot wasn't being computer properly; either it wasn't being decremented when people won, or it was incrementing incorrectly when people were playing.

Maybe? (1)

goobenet (756437) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470530)

Maybe the machines were sold to the Casino under the guarantee that the machines would *NEVER* hit a jackpot, which is why the machine was handed over to the gaming commission in the first place, that's the bug!

Request an inspection (0, Redundant)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470568)

So just remember when gambling at the Wildwood Casino, to remember to request the Colorado Gaming Division inspect the machines every time you _don't_ get a jackpot, because you might have. I'm pretty sure that would stop Wildwood's shenanigans right quick.

I've got a deal (0, Redundant)

PktLoss (647983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470582)

It seems like every time I don't win I should turn the machine in to see if it was a glitch.

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32470648)

What do you expect? They're INDIAN GIVERS!

Insurance (2, Insightful)

adbge (1693228) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Why do errors end up as big numbers? is the slot d (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32470694)

Why do errors end up as big numbers?

Is the slot denomination being changed in error so it be coming something like $0.01 but the rest of the game is in $1 or higher mode?

RNG out put ending up in the win memory location?

game code overflows?

hackers in the network?

free spins paying the jackpot on each spin so you go over the games max payout for 1 bet?

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