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Best of John Grochowski

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What Would You Change about the Gaming Regulations in Illinois

21 September 2004

Q. In the last few months, I've been in several casinos that have do-it-yourself change counters. You know what I mean. You pour the change in, and after it's counted the machine dispenses currency plus odd change to pay you off.

I'm not really comfortable with this, and I prefer to take my coin bucket to the cashier and have them count it. My wife laughs at me, but I'd rather deal with a person than a machine, even if that person just pours the change into another machine. What do you think?

Steve

A. It won't be long before this isn't an issue. Soon, nearly all slot machines will be equipped with ticket printers, and there won't be any buckets of change to cash in.

As ticket printers become commonplace, so will self-serve kiosks that will read the bar codes on your payout tickets and dispense cash. Cashiers' cages aren't about to disappear, so if you prefer the personal touch in cashing in your tickets, it'll be available.

For now, I understand your discomfort with self-serve change counters. Given a choice, I'll have someone at the cashiers' cage or change booth run my coins or tokens through a counter.

There is a practical reason. If I cash out $100 worth of quarters from a video poker machine, occasionally the hopper will spit out only $99.50 or $99.75 worth of quarters. A cashier sometimes will assume there was a shortage, and hand me $100. If not, I'll say something and usually will get the full payout. If that happens at a self-serve counter, I have to go to the cage or booth to state my case, rather than having it handled on the spot.

Q. I have a problem with all these ticket printers that are going on the slot machines. I was playing the two-cent slots at Empress and had a pretty good run. I started with $20, got the bonus a few times, and when I quit, the screen said I had $31.92.

I printed out the ticket for $31.92 and decided to try a dollar reel game before it was time to go. I put the printer in the reader, and the credits only rang up to $31. What happened to my 92 cents?

I'm not mad that I lost the $31. I understand that on the slots you win sometimes and you lose more often. But I am mad about the 92 cents. At least that would have paid the tolls home!

Liz

A. When you put a ticket for an odd amount into the reader at a machine set at a higher denomination, a ticket for the odd amount is immediately printed out. It seems likely that when you lost your $31, you walked away without noticing there was a ticket for 92 cents hanging from the printer.

If you'd put the ticket into the reader at another two-cent machine, the credit meter would have rung up the full $31.92. But machines with higher base denominations can't handle the spare change.

That's something that players and casinos alike will have to get used to. Players need to keep track of their money, whether it's in the form of coins, currency or bar-coded tickets. Casinos will be on the lookout for the folks who used to scan the floor for dropped change. The new scavengers' technique -- frowned on by the casinos -- is to look for tickets left behind by players.

Still, once players have learned to watch their tickets, the printers are a step up from another way of reducing reliance on coins, a method called "tokenization." We've never gone the tokenization route in Illinois and Indiana, but you will find it in some Native American casinos in the Midwest.

With tokenized play, machines of different denominations pay out the same standard denomination of coin or token. Nickel, quarter and dollar machines all might pay out $1 tokens. If on a multiline nickel game you cash out 800 credits -- not at all unusual -- you don't have to wait until 800 nickels drop into the tray to fill your bucket. You'll just get 40 $1 tokens instead.

So far, so good. It means less waiting and lightens the load to carry to the cage without lightening the pocket book. For casinos, it reduces the inventory of coins or tokens they have to carry along with reducing the frequency of hopper fills and hopper jams.

The problem comes with odd-coin payouts. Cash out 801 nickels and a machine that pays out in $1 tokens can't pay your full $40.05. You have to wait for a slot attendant to pay the extra nickel by hand. Is it worth the extra wait for a nickel? Some players move on in frustration. Me, I'm just cheap enough to wait.

Ticket printers eliminate that problem. You just have to be alert and watch for your ticket.

Q. If you could change anything about Illinois gaming law - other than the tax rate - what would it be?

Jeff

A. I can only choose one thing? I'd start with the tax structure, but assuming you're talking about something that affects players directly and go with the regulation that requires tournament play to use live money. That effectively kills tournaments in Illinois -- and tournaments, done right, are a blast.

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