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In Reply to Changing Slot Payouts

1 October 2001

By Gayle Mitchell

Many times, I have been asked if casinos can 'flip a switch' or in any way change the payout percentage of slots. My reply has been that in regulated gaming jurisdictions, a casino is discouraged from this practice with heavy penalties including revocation of their license; thus resulting in a huge financial loss and detriment to their reputation.

John, a very diligent reader from British Columbia, Canada received the following reply from the British Columbia Lottery Corp that oversees all casinos in that province. I found it enlightening and supportive of my stance as stated above. This data should be of interest to all slot players in the US and Canada.

Subject: Re: Slot Machine Inquiry

The slot machines are owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation. To date, BCLC has installed 2,399 slot machines:

  • 65% are .25 cent machines
  • 35% are $1 machines


These slot machines were purchased from three licensed companies through a competitive process: IGT, Bally and Williams, who currently supply more than 90% of the slot machines available at Canadian casinos. BCLC controls the selection of the games and their prize return percentages. In general, prize return percentages are similar to those of slot machines available in other Canadian casinos. That means players can expect .25 cent games to pay out at random in the 90% range and $1 games to pay out at random in the 92% range over the life of the game. To ensure security and integrity, every slot machine is connected to a central slot management system, CasinoLink.

The central management system allows BCLC to manage and control any slot machine in any casino within the province. The central slot management system:

  • controls when each machine is able to be played.
  • ensures the prize return "computer chip" in each machine is not altered.
  • keeps track of every time a given machine is accessed.
  • records all financial transactions for each machine, including coins in, games played, coins out, wins and coin fills and determines how much money is in each machine at end of day.


Two independent testing laboratories are contracted to test and certify every slot machine game, plus authenticate the CasinoLink software program. Both of these testing laboratories were selected for their expertise in this field and both are registered with GAIO.

John also asked this question: 'What you are saying is nobody that works at the casino can tamper with the slots without you knowing? I know the machines are shut down, what about then?'

BCLC: Yes, I am telling you that our slot management system reports all slot machine door openings to the central system. No one can tamper with the slot machines without the slot machine management system generating an alarm. This is also the case when the casinos are shut down. There are a number of safeguards in place to ensure that the slot machines are not tampered with in anyway, some of these include:

  • The central slot machine management system would generate an alarm if any of the alarmed areas of the slot machine were to be tampered with.
  • A number of keys are required to access different areas of the slot machine. These keys are strictly controlled. (It would take more than one person to access any of the computer chips controlling the game chips).
  • Casino personnel are not in possession of game chips or access to keys to the logic compartment of a slot machine. These keys are strictly controlled and only accessible to selected BCLC employees.
  • Security personnel in the casino.
  • Surveillance cameras on the casino gaming floor recording all activities in real time and recorded on dedicated VCR'S.
  • If there had been an attempt to gain access to the "computer chip" area of the slot machine that particular slot machine would not power up.


As mentioned in my previous message our systems are tested by independent testing laboratories. I trust the above answers your questions.

My reply to John: I tend to believe what has been said--sounds like the strict controls in Nevada and New Jersey. At least they offer specifics and a lot more information than you will get from most gaming jurisdictions. I would like to reprint this data as a good example of communication between a gaming commission and casino players. Believe me, John you are very fortunate in getting them a) to reply and b) being specific. Thanks again for the info.....Gayle.

Gayle Mitchell
Gayle Mitchell, one of the first women to break through the “felt ceiling” of the previously male-dominated world of casino gambling gurus, is now regarded as one of North America’s leading experts on casino gambling.

Gayle’s commitment to educating the gambling public began almost 20 years ago, when she walked into a Las Vegas casino and experienced for the first time the thrill that comes with winning even a small bet. She made up her mind then and there to learn every game in the casino, and a short time later resolved to make a career out of sharing her insights with other gamblers. She had always considered herself to be a good teacher – she believes in keeping things simple – and decided that she would commit herself to showing newbies how to become knowledgeable, intelligent gamblers.

Gayle started her own publishing company, and her first book came out in 1997. Today she is the author of seven books, seven EBooks, and a set of five Tips booklets, and has presented many seminars on casino gambling. Currently she teaches Learn to Win Programs with other leading experts at GamblingTeachers.com. The site is a player-friendly Free Gambling Learning Center offering 300+ online lessons for popular casino games plus Gambling Teachers Blog. Gayle also operates www.gamerisms.com, which is a games glossary site for sport, casino, skill and video game players.

“It’s a fact that less than 2 percent of casino players know the profitable, correct strategies and/or rules for most casino games,” Gayle says. “Our group of career teachers and writers are working to improve that statistic.”

Gayle Mitchell Websites:

www.gamblingteachers.com
www.gamerisms.com