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Best of John Grochowski

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Extra Money, Indeed

22 August 2006

Chances are you've heard about the great slot mistake at Caesars Indiana, where the credit meter on an Extra Money slot machine was ringing up credits to the tune of 10 times the amount of cash actually slid into the bill validator. The casino lost $487,000 on the machine in two days, and was contemplating how to recover at least some of the money from players who took advantage.

The incident was widely reported, so I won't delve too deeply into the details here, but will offer a couple of comments. The mistake was that the machine was set to validate Philippine, instead of U.S., currency. That is programmable, and someone at Caesars hadn't run the proper checks.

Presumably that will be a point of emphasis from here on out at casinos around the world. The worldwide expansion of casino gambling has led manufacturers of bill validators to create units that will handle any currency. Casino suppliers including JCM, Global Payment Technologies and Cash Code have designed their validators to read the currency of any nation, and to handle a variety of currency sizes, up to the 85-mm. width of the British 50-pound note.

That's an international necessity for the gaming industry, and multi-currency bill validators are here to stay. It's up to the operating casino to make sure the proper program is activated.

A second piece of technology goes into Caesars Indiana not recognizing immediately that there was a problem at the machine. In fact, casino personnel didn't recognize it at all --- a player eventually reported the 10-for-1 error.

How could such an error go uncorrected for two days? Part of the reason is TITO --- ticket in, ticket out technology that pays players in bar-coded tickets instead of in coins or tokens that circulate through a hopper and drop into a slot machine tray.

Just a few years ago, all those $10 buy-ins that turned into $100 cashouts --- or $100 buy-ins that resulted in $1,000 cash outs --- would have meant that coin hoppers were continually being drained. After a few hopper fills, the message would have been clear that something was wrong with this machine.

With TITO, the machine just kept printing out tickets. There was no parade of refills that would have signaled a bad error.

That being said, casinos gain far, far more from TITO than they lose. And TITO or not, this was a problem that should have been recognized overnight by any manager paying attention to daily slot performance statistics.

Technology may have made the $487,000 loss possible, but no doubt it was human error that made it happen.

** ** ** **

Sometimes a Las Vegas adventure lies in a winning streak. Sometimes it's in discovering a new restaurant, or a good show. When my wife and I went to Las Vegas for Frank Scoblete's World Craps Championship, the adventure started on the flight from Chicago.

I had the window seat, with my wife in the middle seat. When the flight attendants served drinks, I ordered a tomato juice, and the fellow on the aisle ordered Bloody Mary mix. Marcy started talking with Mr. Aisle about her Law of Reds and Whites, that white clothing is bound to be splattered by red foods. I was wearing a white shirt. So was he.

It was good for a laugh, but a few minutes later … sploosh!

No doubt Marcy was expecting the spill to come from my direction, but it was the Bloody Mary mix. All cleaned up better than expected, and I breathed a sigh or relief that I hadn't been the one to wreak havoc.

** ** ** **

While in Vegas, we stayed at the Tropicana, as much for old times' sake as anything else. Marcy and I have had a number of fun trips there, and we do love Mizuno's Japanese steak house.

It had been a few years since I'd set foot in the Trop, and probably close to 10 since Marcy had. Mizuno's didn't disappoint --- an outstanding dinner, as always.

As for the rest of the Trop, well, it's obvious not much money has been spent here in the final years of Aztar's ownership, leading up to the recent sale to Columbia Sussex.

The gaming side is practically a museum. I'd mentioned the old CDS Reel Deal video poker machines in this column a few weeks ago. They had/have a video representation of three slot reels to play a bonus round. CDS has long since been bought out by Aristocrat, but the Trop has a bank of the games, complete with a Casino Data Systems" 1998 logo.

Mikohn Gaming is now Progressive Gaming, but there at the Trop is a bank of Mikohn video slots with Yahtzee, Clue and Ripley's Believe It or Not. Not complaining, mind you. I like the games. But like most older games, they're long gone at most places.

Slot payoffs at the Trop? They're in coins. A woman next to me was dealt four 2s on a Deuces Wild video poker machine. Out came pouring 1,000 quarters.

No TITO here --- which I suppose means any 10-for-1 bill validator mistake would have been caught quickly.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com, and to his casino talk show from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday on WCKG-FM (105.9), streaming at http://1059freefm.com.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski