New Casino Business Model: Any Time Someone Wins, Blame The Software

from the stacking-the-odds dept

Everyone knows that casinos stack the odds against players. That's the business model. However, every once in a while they need to pay out large amounts, because it's the possibility of such payouts that keep people coming back, despite their long odds. It appears one casino has come up with an ingenious method to stacking the odds even further: when someone wins a big jackpot on a computerized Keno machine, just claim the winning results were a software glitch and refuse to pay (found via digg). The men who did not get their prize are hiring lawyers to discuss the matter. The casino claims that they're not liable for any "malfunction." Of course, the article isn't entirely clear on exactly what the malfunction was -- but it seems like they should pay up, and if they have a problem with the machine, they should take it up with the machine's manufacturer.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chief Elf, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:14pm

    Yin/Yang

    I'll bet the winners end up losers, 2-to-3 odds.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Topher3105, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    Well

    I have always found it slightly dubious to put my money into a "computer" slot machine. I mean, honestly, do we really think the results are random, or do the casinos hit a button every now and then to pay out on demand.

    But theses days, even the so called mechanical slot machines are all computer controlled.

    I think that if this case has any huge impact on customer relations, then casinos should be forced to ban computerized slot machines by law, and instead rely soley on mechanical processes for true random results.

    Until that happens, I will play poker or blackjack so I know that there is some fate in how I win or lose.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    They would be wise to pay up. If they claim software glitch that worked against them, they would be opening up themselves to a class-action lawsuit by anyone who had used their system that could then claim they would have won had it not been for a software glitch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    whargoul, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:47pm

    This is old news

    I saw this on the news 2 months ago. The culprit at that time was Winstar Casinos. You can bet I'll never go there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Mikester, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:53pm

    Payout exceeded maximum

    I heard about this on CBC last night. The story was that the guy was playing a nickel keno machine which had a payout limit of around $3000 if all 5 keno numbers matched. When the guy "won" it showed the payout jackpot to be $209,000 - that's why they're blaming a software glitch.

    Regardless, it would have served them much better to just pay the guy his $200,000 and be done with it. Now they are getting a lot of negative press which could result in fewer people going there to gamble if they feel they won't be paid their winnings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Drama2Sell, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    Been in Service How long?

    Just goes to show you the odds--they article states this machine has been in service for 3 YEARS---does it take that long for it to finally hit so you can see the glitch?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Lawsuit

    If I recall correctly, the courts won't enforce gambling debts. There may be other viable legal avenues (deceptive advertisting, etc), though. Any lawyers care to comment?

    (Seems they've already put themselves in the court of public opinion where they're apt to lose bigtime.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Phlatus the Elder, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Lawsuit

    If I recall correctly, the courts won't enforce gambling debts. There may be other viable legal avenues (deceptive advertisting, etc), though. Any lawyers care to comment?

    (Seems they've already put themselves in the court of public opinion where they're apt to lose bigtime.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:31pm

    Re: Payout exceeded maximum

    209 000 is an error code that means "please service"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    BillDivX, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    that's why

    I have started playing poker and blackjack. Maybe not better odds in a "pure" world, but it has an element of true randomness that no computer COULD duplicate, and of course, anything computerized can easily be fixed in any way you want, from slot machines to voting machines...if it is allowed to be a closed proprietary system. I could see this parlaying into another voting machine debate (as a worst case), i.e. a public outcry forms for legislation that guarantees these machines aren't fixed, flown under the banner of an update to current fair-gaming regulations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    LioN XL, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 1:37pm

    Daily News

    This seems to be more commom everyday...not too long ago (maybe early this year, late last year) The NY Daily News had a scratch off sweepstakes insert which were abou 50% (or better) positive. Meaning about 50% of the entrants had the Jackpot numbers. Of course the news rejected them stating a printer/technical error caused the game to be deemed invalid. I thinbk this one is still n the courts....

    PS. this ansd the fact that I like to keep money, are two reasons why I don't gamble anymore, anf that means cards, slots, lottery, whatever. It seems evryone can count a 5deck stack so it gotten too crazy...

    pps. third reason was I damn near became addicted during HS and college and just had to say NO to gambling...




    the preceeding msg is in no way a endorsent by the author or the advertisers. it merely a the opinion of someone whom none you know or care about.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    ViPeRDeSiGnZ, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 2:01pm

    Vegas slot machines are actually MUCH safer, more secure, and harder to tamper with than any electronic voting machine ever used in an U.S. presidential election. If they wont to call it a 'malfunction,' then what is to stop me from saying Bush won because of a malfunction?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    w00t, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    Because bush really did win because of a malfunction....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Mike Mixer, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 2:32pm

    This isn't news in Vegas

    This happens on occasion in Vegas. It usually involves
    an overpay to the customer and it is always handled quickly with the customer getting what he should have won. Why are there no lawsuits? Easy, If you
    raise hell at one property you'd be lucky to get a room in a Fremont street flop and you wouldn't even be able to use a one-arm bandit at the 7-11 down the street because your name is toast and they do know you. The entire state of Nevada would be an uncomfortable place for you to be.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Nowandever29, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Re: Lawsuit

    Courts WILL enforce gambling contracts (constituted by the act of gambling in the casino) if the contract is legal - in other words, they won't enforce illegal betting, or anything else illegal - makes sense, huh?

    As far as this case goes, I say ban all casinos! Only let people play the Lotto. That's voluntary taxation in my book, which is a VERY GOOD THING.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    BillDivX, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 3:32pm

    Nothing...

    "then what is to stop me from saying Bush won because of a malfunction?"

    Nothing at all...this time...but when the vote gets tampered with again, and again...say on the act to repeal the 2 term limit. then the act to lengthen presidental term. and then to elect GWB's son...and the act to allow him to spy on all americans...then maybe there will be a big brother gestapo to stop you from saying it....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Rational Person, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 3:47pm

    Re: Nothing...

    Man, you need to chill the hell out with the politics. This article had nothing to do with Bush, the election, or the gestapo.

    :/ Maybe you should make a blog about your rants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    BillDivX, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 3:59pm

    hahahaha...

    I'm not talking *about* politics, I'm comparing...

    I'm giving an example of where trusting computers unquestioningly, leads to realistic versions of senarios that people usually say are too extreme, and like to pass off as "paranoia."

    And often, the best way to prove a point, is to satire it...blow it way out of proportion, so that people can see where their logic leads. Satire happens to be my favorite form of COMEDY.

    /: Maybe YOU should turn on your humor detector.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    W, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 4:12pm

    Re: hahahaha...

    not to mention - bush won by a landslide. just look at the total votes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 5:20pm

    computer random # generators

    umm... you guys saying that you don't trust ANY computer slot machine, you DO realize that virtually every slot machine made since at least the early 80's have used transistor/microchip random number generators - right? as in not just the newer ones with crt monitors and whatnot, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    thecaptain, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 5:38am

    Re: computer random # generators

    I think the question is, who trusts that? Who makes that?

    So what if the random number generator is made out of transistors and not software? Irrelevant...either way it can be rigged, so how do we know it isn't?

    This is where peer-review would come in handy...or even open source maybe. I mean, if I can't review the logic (code or transistors) then I'd at LEAST like to know someone unbiased HAS.

    In Nevada, I think the Gaming commission does verify this stuff...but I don't live there and have never been there so I don't know.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 6:13am

    The article mentions this is not the first time something like this has happened:
    There have been similar cases. In 2005, a man from Virginia won more than $11 million US at a slot machine on a reserve in Oklahoma, but was told it was a software error, says the Canadian Press. He settled for a $1,199 US payout.
    Also, according to a few Discovery type TV shows I've seen the slots and wheels are the worst odds. The cards and other games of skill have much better odds. They do cost more though... :)
    For similar info checkThe Wizard of Odds Note that the house advantage in games of chance such as Keno (25%-29%), Roulette, Slots. Whereas games of skill give the house less of an edge. Of course this is assuming that the house is playing by the state's Gambling laws!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Kelly G, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 6:15am

    Past issue and House Advantage

    The article mentions this is not the first time something like this has happened:
    There have been similar cases. In 2005, a man from Virginia won more than $11 million US at a slot machine on a reserve in Oklahoma, but was told it was a software error, says the Canadian Press. He settled for a $1,199 US payout.
    Also, according to a few Discovery type TV shows I've seen the slots and wheels are the worst odds. The cards and other games of skill have much better odds. They do cost more though... :)
    For similar info checkThe Wizard of Odds Note that the house advantage in games of chance such as Keno (25%-29%), Roulette, Slots. Whereas games of skill give the house less of an edge. Of course this is assuming that the house is playing by the state's Gambling laws!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Payout exceeded maximum

    That is funny. Thanks for making me laugh

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 9:51am

    Doesn't Pay Off

    Let's be real. Most Las Vegas casinos advertise at least a 93% payback. Just what does this mean? IT MEANS... If you play a slot machine and run $100 through it, you will only get $93 back through the drop, IF YOU'RE LUCKY!

    I have never understood the gambling craze, it's just like all the other get rich quick schemes, the player always loses. Las Vegas wasn't built from people winning money - it's the loser's money that build multi-billion dollar resorts.

    Now, here in California, the Indian tribes that have casinos, have tried blaming the software for big payouts but have failed to prove their case. Also the tribes are throwing their own members, fellow tribesmen, out of the tribes and off the reservations, in order to lessen the number of members and thus fewer people that they have to share the profits with.

    Gambling means only one thing - GREED, both on the casino's part and the player. The casino wants your money and the player wants to get rich quick without having to earn it. Either way it is spelled G-R-E-E-D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 10:00am

    the house always wins. if you aren't intelligent enough to understand that simple fact, you don't deserve the money that the casino "wins" from you anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Wizard Prang, Jul 6th, 2006 @ 12:10pm

    So if the other guy had won...

    ...it wouldn't have been?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Tucson Sun, Jan 26th, 2007 @ 10:25am

    As a semi-pro (arbitrary label) poker player, I realize that ALL gambling is a waste of time and that my life is always better spent elsewhere than in the casino. A man who tells me he is a blackjack player is automatically downgraded from "respectable" to "degenerate" in at least one way.

    At 22 years old, I usually am out have a FEW drinks or talking to my gf on the phone, but every now and then I feel the need to go in there and play. It relaxes me for a while and helps me space out. The smart way to gamble is to devote 5% of your income or less to it, and keep track of it for a while for fun. Buy in to large poker tournaments and, when the inevitable day come where you make a final table, go out and have fun with the winnings, knowing that you aren't actually 'up' all that much.

    It amazes me how many people play slots. Keno, which has the largest house edge of any casino game at apprx. (30-35%), is still popular enough to exist despite its simplicity. Blackjack is a more understandable addiction as the game is exciting, fast-paced, and phenomenal runs are possible. I turned 60$ into 1300 in PHX. Then I promptly put 1300 on 4 hands @ ~400 each and lost them ALL.

    Gambling is a paradox, a world of bullshit, but man I love it sometimes. I only play for the BIG runs in poker and I play a little blackjack for fun.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    bonus guy, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    blame the software

    That's a funny title. But machines break. The word 'Gambling' is such a misnomer. It is a fact that you will lose over time. It should be viewed as entertainment, not a retirement plan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This