More Casinos Realize They Can Blame Software Glitch And Not Pay Out Big Prizes

from the sneaky,-sneaky dept

Last summer, we suggested a new business model for casinos, after hearing the story of one casino blaming a software glitch in order to not pay out a jackpot a player had supposedly won. In that case, the guy was supposedly hiring a lawyer, but we haven't heard an update. However, it appears that others are picking up on the trick. A new casino in Pennsylvania had a slot machine tell a player that he had won $102,000, supposedly "the big jackpot" of the day. Various casino staff came up and congratulated him, until someone else came over and offered him two free meal coupons, saying that the jackpot message (which even stated his name) was a software glitch on their internal computer system, and was due to some internal testing that never should have reached the actual machine. Specifically, they claim it was "a communications error." The article does note that the slot machines have a disclaimer that the casino is not liable for machine malfunctions, but there are questions about whether or not that covers this situation, since it wasn't technically the slot machine that malfunctioned, but the casino's computer system. Either way, it seems pretty sleazy, and probably isn't particularly good publicity for a new casino trying to drum up business. Update: Apparently the casino has changed its mind, recognizing the bad publicity the original story caused. The casino claims that their investigation turned up that the error was a human error, not a machine glitch, and therefore they paid up.

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  1. identicon
    Atash, 26 Jan 2007 @ 8:56am

    Psychology of gambling

    Average humans seem to have a poor sense of odds, accuracy, and danger. Humans are apt to judge the safeness or danger of a situation by what happens to other humans. Oddly enough, dozens of people skating on thin ice has the paradoxical effect of making it seem SAFER despite the fact that all that weight makes it more dangerous!

    The behavior is easy to see in stock markets; in this case the investment banks and brokers are the croupiers.

    Advertisers for the casinos assume that average people have poor judgement regarding their own personal prospects when they see advertisements showing smiling people around the gaming tables cheerfully losing their money. The actors and actresses simply model the correct behaviors and attitudes, and the average person doesn't rationally calculate their own personal probability of winning, or ask if ANYBODY is truly a net winner.

    By the way, one of the most common and effective advertisements for gambling is the gambling scene in a movie. Hollywood-type movies are feature-length advertisements disguised as entertainment. So you have the suave, debonaire James Bond type character in a casino, maybe he wins, and then he gets the girl. Men who fancy themselves as being the "man about town" type will copy the behavior. They want to be Sean Connery. Modelling the behavior and making it look like the key to fulfilment of some kind is sufficient to get some people to actually engage in the target behavior. They influence their own friends, and it spreads.

    The casinos have made it very clear that gambling is a form of "entertainment" and that they are under no legal obligation to make the games "fair". They now have numerous and poorly-disclosed "cheats" to foil card-counters, for example. If someone has an extremely good memory he will be escorted from the premises by casino goons.

    A long time ago, the casino owners noticed that the gambling impulse is not rational. One of the ways that gamblers lose is that they tend to have a compulsion to win back what they lost the same way that they lost it. Hence as strange as it may seem, the casino owners are not terribly worried about baiting the players with enough wins to keep them happy. An occassional paid actor or actress gleefully jumping up and down over an ostensible win, that is completely bogus, and being hugged by their attractive ostensible companion, is sufficient. The casino owners like to maximize their haul.

    These people hire behavioral psychologists to advise them on priming their suckers. They know what they are doing.

    Oddly enougn, yet another trick is to sponsor "responsible vice" messages. The casino owners actually pay for advertising about "knowing your limits". The reason is that it subtly suggests that there is such a thing as responsible vice--that it's OK as long as you can (convince yourself that you can) "handle it". This works like a charm especially on a lot of self-righteous types who are prone to parroting the moralisms of people in positions of power. It also has the effect of hopefully keeping the host solvent; the parasite doesn't want to prematurely kill its host, but to maximize its haul over the useful lifetime of the host.


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