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Best of John Grochowski

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The slots aren't just the machines

22 October 2012

To players, slot machines are the easiest game around. Bet your money, start the reels spinning and wait to see if you win or lose. No muss, no fuss, no strategies to learn, no glares from other players if they think you make a mistake.

To manufacturers and casino operators, it’s a much more complex business. From time to time, I touch on the technology and math that go into producing the games. And casino slot directors have to think about more than just the games.

Instead, the modern slot floor needs bill validators to scan your currency before it puts credits on the machine’s meter, and ticket printers to issue bar-coded tickets you can exchange the cash. It needs kiosks to read the tickets and redeem for cash, and it needs kiosks for quick distribution of player rewards.

Let’s look at some of the peripheral devices that go into a modern slot floor:

BILL VALIDATORS

If you remember the days before slot and video poker machines were fitted with bill validators, well, you’ve been playing at least since the late 1980s. Until then, players dropped coins into a coin head by hand for each play. The bill validator, which recognizes or rejects the paper currency you slide into a machine, enabled players to get credits on a meter right from the start.

Validators have evolved to become faster, more reliable and more secure. And in an era of worldwide casino gaming, validators have to be versatile enough to scan currencies in any jurisdiction, including bills of different sizes, something manufacturers including MEI, Cash Code, Global Payment Technologies and JCM all seek to address.

Take the iVizion validator from JCM. It can scan currency up to 85 millimeters wide. In the United States, our currency is one-size fits all at 2.61 inches wide, or 66.28 mm. But in the United Kingdom, different denominations have different widths. The 5-pound note is 70 mm wide, while the 10-pound note is 75 mm and the 20-pound note 80 mm. Modern bill validators must be able to scan all of them.

In addition, JCM says the iVizion has an acceptance rate of better than 99% on first scan. That’s important to both players and the casino. Casino operators want your cash properly scanned, credits on the meter and you in action as quickly as possible. You don’t want to sit there having your bill scanned, rejected and returned, then scanned, rejected and returned again until you finally get your credits to play.

TICKET PRINTERS

It was another decade after bill validators came into vogue before ticket printers started to become standard casino equipment, but nowadays it’s a surprise to find a slot machine that doesn’t make its payoffs via bar-coded tickets.

The combination of bill validators and ticket printers meant casinos no longer had to tie up resources by keeping vast stockpiles of coins or slot tokens. Players no longer wait on hopper fills or jams, and casinos don’t need change carts or coin counters.

Companies including FutureLogic Inc. and Transact Technologies extend the usefulness of the printers by turning them into promotional tools, too. With Epicentral Print System, casinos can create coupons, show tickets, meal comp vouchers and marketing messages and print them right at the soft machine with the same Epic 350 printer that produces the bar-coded payout tickets.

FutureLogic touts the high capacity and speed of its Gen3 Evolution printer, and also has an eye on tickets as promotional tools. The PromoNet template-based software solution helps casinos design and manage promotional campaigns from a workstation PC.

KIOSKS

Walk around a modern casino, and you’ll find kiosks to redeem tickets or break bills into smaller denominations, kiosks to check your player rewards points or redeem comps, kiosks to enter promotions and, of course, ATM kiosks to access cash.

Global Cash Access and NRT Technologies both provide casinos with kiosks to serve player needs, and others to serve employees. The GCA CX4 kiosk can handle ATM and credit card transactions, bill breaking, ticket redemption and other player services, while its Jackpot XChange is designed for employees. It can dispense cash in the proper amount to a slot attendant when a jackpot is signaled. Employees also can access cash to fill their pouches so they have the proper amount to make non-jackpot hand pays and perform other cash-dispensing functions on the casino floor.

NRT Technologies also has both players and casino employees in mind in offering the QuickJack 2 kiosk for casino patrons, and the QuickJack jackpot dispensing system for use by casino employees. QuickJack 2, as part of its cash handling functions, can be set up for multiple currencies so that a U.S. customer playing in Canada, for example, can redeem tickets for U.S. dollars before heading home.
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski