I think it's rather strange that slot machines, more than any other game in casinos, including video poker, often bring out the worst in gamblers.
You'd think that more arguments would erupt at the table games where players have an opportunity to interact. Playing the slots is a solitary betting proposition people can play on their own terms, at their own price, at their own pace.
But just as good neighbors sometimes get into arguments over the most trivial of matters, it seems slot players draw imaginary lines on the casino floor over every little invasion of their slot playing privacy.
The casino doesn't even have to be crowded. As a matter of fact, battles erupt more frequently under less than capacity conditions when there are plenty of machines available. It doesn't figure.
Slot players are very territorial. They're also very superstitious. These two characteristics combine for some volatile conditions when another player infringes on them.
The primary catalyst for the fights is easy: A simple lack of common courtesy and the lack of protocol for proper slot machine play that comes with experience:
• People reaching over to play machines from a neighboring slot position.
• People walking away from machines, thinking an inserted player's club card is an unwritten "No Trespassing" sign.
• People "saving" machines for inordinate amounts of time by leaning the chair against the machine.
• People sitting in front of machines, not playing them, but for some reason greedily guarding them from others.
• A good deal of the fuel for argumentative behavior comes as a result of misinformation about how the games operate. The general public's ill-conceived notion that slots machines are "due", "ready to pop", or just plain "hot" brings out the need for players to be unwilling to share them with anybody else.
Not only do the arguments become verbally abusive, they can also become physical. Most casinos have an internal policy that regulates "capping" (saving) a machine for a player who wants to take a break but doesn't want anybody else to play the machine while they're gone.
Casino supervisors will cap a slot by opening it up and turning it off until the player returns. Leaning chairs are the ways players hold games themselves, much the same as city dwellers put old furniture on the street to save a shoveled-out parking place after a snow storm. It's really not legal but cautious neighbors still observe it.
Self-saving a machine for a five-minute bathroom break is a courtesy all slot players should have the patience to honor. But when greedy players get out of hand by saving machines for longer periods of time, that's when the arguments start and supervisory personnel should be summoned.
Positions at table games can be saved, too. At blackjack tables the dealer will place a clear plastic disc in the betting circle. At craps tables, the boxman will instruct the dealer to place a cloth over the player's chips. But they are never, ever saved for up to two hours! There's no way a casino would permit a table gaming position to go unused for that long (and incapable of generating revenue) during a busy time.