Every slot player is aware of the little sticker that’s on every slot and video poker machine in every casino in the country: “Machine malfunction voids all pays and plays”.
For all practical purposes, this means that if the casino determines there are any irregularities in the normal function of the machine that would compromise any winnings or a jackpot payoff, the casino reserves the right to deny payment.
Since all electronic gaming devices are governed by an internal computer program, it is easy for casino owners to check that everything’s on the up and up. In fact, whenever a jackpot is hit, the machine locks down to allow attendants to key in codes and information to verify the payout before the machine is activated again.
It’s tough to beat the system, but this columnist recalls a story from 10 years ago about a woman who did just that.
It seems the woman had an incredible streak of luck on the machine she was playing. She started out with $10 and after roughly 2 1/2 hours of playing time and lots of winning she had turned that sawbuck into $12,000. But when she wanted to collect her winnings, the casino wouldn’t pay her.
The slot technicians determined that her windfall wasn’t gleaned from a lucky streak. They discovered the machine had been operating in demo mode, a speeded-up version which allowed the lady to win three out of every four plays she made, or 200-times more wins than regular game mode.
After a new game is installed or an upgrade is made to an existing machine, technicians test the operation in a demo mode to verify it is operating properly. Apparently the technicians forgot to deactivate the demo mode when their work was completed and left the machine vulnerable for a player to make a killing.
The fortuitous slot player’s sister, who was also at the casino, admitted she observed a demo mode notice in the corner of the screen of the machine, but that it was too small for her sister, who wasn’t wearing her glasses, to see.
Casino attendants and supervisors who checked the machine also didn’t see the notice at first.
Hughes took her complaint to the top but left the casino without her winnings. Three days later, however, she was called back and presented with a $12,000 check by the chief operating officer of the casino.
The money, it should be noted, didn’t come out of the casino’s coffers. It was paid by the manufacturer of the slot machine in question.
Even though this particular story had a happy ending, it should serve as notice for all slot players to realize that casinos take the “machine malfunction voids all pays and plays” disclaimer very seriously.
If you suspect anything is wrong with the machine you are playing, even if it’s in your favor, call an attendant over so you won’t be disappointed if you hit a jackpot and don’t get paid.