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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Ask the Slot Expert: Why some slot machines were out of service

Ask the Slot Expert: Why some slot machines were out of service

4 October 2017

By John Robison, Slot Expert™

Question: I was at Niagara Falls Casino today and saw five slot machines with stickers on them. It appeared they were being checked out. (out of service at this time) On the checklist it showed "break CPU seals."

What does that mean? Are they changing payoffs or the way it performs?

Answer: It's difficult to know exactly what that checklist item means without seeing it in the context of the other items on the list. My guess is that the logic drawer, the place where the computer system that runs the slot machine is stored, is not only locked, but also sealed in some manner as an additional measure to prevent someone from accessing and altering the system and making it obvious if the logic drawer has been breached. The item may mean breaking the seals on the logic drawers so technicians can unlock the logic drawer and access the components in it.

It's not likely that the casino is changing long-term paybacks on the machines. As a general rule, casinos don't change paybacks on machines. They usually just let the machines age out on the slot floors and replace them with machines that pay back accordingly to their new philosophy. I can't say that a casino has never changed the payback of a machine, but it doesn't happen nearly as often as players think it happens.

The most prominent case of a casino's changing the payback of not just one machine but every machine on the slot floor is Mandalay Bay a few months after it opened. The slot floor was divided into different zones. Each zone had a prize, like a car or TV, which was randomly awarded to a player every so often. The paybacks on the machines were a tad lower than they would have been otherwise because some of the payback was in the prizes.

Players didn't understand the system, so the system didn't generate the traffic that Mandalay Bay thought it would. Management eliminated the prizes and raised the paybacks on the machines. This is the only case I know of in which a casino changed the payback on every machine on its slot floor — and it raised the paybacks!

I have three guesses as to what was being done to the machines. First, it's possible that the machines were just going to be inspected to ensure that they have not been altered in any way. Second, it's possible that the manufacturer has discovered a vulnerability in the software running the machine and the technicians were going to replace the defective software with a new version. Finally, technicians may be changing the software running the machine to add new capabilities.

Question: I'm a fan of the Top Dollar and two- or three-coin Double Diamond games. What are your favorite games?

Answer: If slot machines were girlfriends, I'd be a philandering, commitment-phobic boyfriend. I'll be devoted to a machine when it first catches my fancy, playing it almost every time I go to the casino. Then I'll play it less and less and the machine eventually ends up on my Gee, I Haven't Played That Machine in a Long Time list.

My two go-to games are both video poker, NSU Deuces and 9/6 Jacks or Better, both of which fortunately are offered by the casinos I go to most often. I guess I have the cart before the horse in that statement. The reason I go to those casinos is because they have those games. I may even pass by one or more casinos on the way because those casinos do not have good video poker.

About 99% of my play is video poker. I don't have a steady slot date at this time. In the past, though, I dated Game of Thrones, Starry Night, two Star Trek slot variations, Jackpot Inferno, and Marvels of Mystery. I've also gone out with Bally's Quick Hit machines and its games on which the bonus round is playing Blazing 7s variations. Bally's Twin Fire combines both Quick Hit and the game-within-a-game bonus round. I sometimes say to myself, "Gee, I haven't played that machine in a while," and go give it a try.

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
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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The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
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