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HOME > Gaming > Ask the Slot Expert: Can casinos manipulate your slot play via your players card?

Ask the Slot Expert: Can casinos manipulate your slot play via your players card?

16 April 2014

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Can you explain how the following scenario happened?

I'm a Silver cardholder at a local casino. I play slots most of the time. After losing a bit, I decided to switch machines and go to the second floor, where the points earned when you play are doubled.

After playing 20 minutes or so, I decided to order coffee from a waitress. She asked me if she could see my card. I told her it's inserted in the machine. She then asked if I'm a Gold card or Platinum cardholder. I said I'm Silver. She declined, saying they can only serve coffee for Platinum or Gold cardholders. I can have coffee on the ground floor for free from those waiters roaming around with their trolleys carrying coffee.

I asked to see a supervisor. After a while, a supervisor came and addressed me by my last name. I told her I simply wanted coffee. She said coffee will be served in a while.

How did she know my name when I only met her that moment and when my card was still inserted in the machine?

I concluded that, while a player is playing the slot machine with his card inserted, casinos can actually know and monitor his plays and they can manipulate his play through his card.

I see from your signature that you're in Manila. They certainly are stingy with the coffee in the Philippines -- at least at your casino. Is it really that difficult to get coffee up to the second floor that only upper-level cardholders can have a cup?

You're half right about your suppositions about what casinos can do via your players card. The whole point of playing with a card is so the casino can know who you are and can monitor your play. Some casinos have a system that displays a graphic representation of the slot floor. Machines are color-coded or otherwise differentiated so the casino can tell that a machine is being played, if a card is being used, and maybe even the elite level of the player. If a card isn't being used and the player has played a bit, the system can indicate that there is a "hot player" on the machine and a slot club representative can approach the player and offer a card.

In your case, the waitress told the supervisor to speak with a player at machine such-and such, and the supervisor probably just checked the system to find out your name so she could call you by name.

I've noticed that there are cultural differences with privacy and anonymity. Privacy laws in the United States are lax and most Americans don't mind giving up some anonymity in exchange for the perks of the players club. Europeans, on the other hand, have stronger privacy laws in their countries and I've heard some slub club directors say that a lower percentage of European players enroll in the club.

In any case, in my limited training in customer service, I was taught that one way to mitigate a potentially stressful situation is to address the customer respectfully as Mr. or Ms. whatever. There's nothing nefarious about the supervisor addressing you by name. She was just trying to be courteous and respectful.

Let's move on now to your conclusions. The first part is that casinos can know and monitor your play. Yes, that's right. That's the whole purpose of using the card.

The second part is that they can manipulate your play. I'm not sure that you mean by "manipulate your play", so I'll address the statement two ways. First, there's no way the casino can manipulate the results you get when you play -- at least not in the United States. In the U.S., regulations require that the Random Number Generator be free from any outside influences, including whether a player is using a players card. You'll get the same results regardless of whether you use your card. Card or not, there's no way the casino can direct the results of a spin.

Now let me address your statement literally -- that is, instead of manipulating your results the casino literally manipulates your play. That's really the purpose of the slot club. By dangling all these wonderful perks like free rooms, free meals and free play, the club is designed to get you to play more in that casino and less in others and really just to get you to play more period. It's up to the players to not get caught up in chasing comps and gambling more than they intended.

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at slotexpert@slotexpert.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

Copyright © John Robison. Slot Expert and Ask the Slot Expert are trademarks of John Robison.

John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming's leading publications. Hear John on "The Good Times Radio Gaming Show," broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoons. You can listen to archives of the show online anytime.

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