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Clanking of Coins Silenced

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: Where I play, the slots machines only allow for a cash insert and ticket play. Do slots now play less when they changed over from coins to tickets? Mary G.

Termed TITO, Mary, which is gamblese for ticket-in ticket-out technology that pays players in bar-coded tickets, is a voucher system developed by International Game Technology that has replaced coin-based models. Casinos love TITO machines because they reduce the labor costs of slot personal, jam-up repairs, hopper fills, emptying the machines of coins, and the hard count of those coins.

Since most machines today are coinless, the sounds of winning come from a hypnotic melody from even a token jackpot, and not from the clanking sound of coins falling into those metal trays that used to broadcast someone’s good fortune.

Clearly, Mary, I can’t speak for every gaming jurisdiction, but the casino locales I follow didn’t start offering lowered paybacks when they switched over to TITO machines. If anything, ticket-in ticket-out technology saves the casino a boatload of money in both slot personal costs and wear and tear on the machines, you would think they should be increasing their paybacks, not decreasing them. Yet, I’m not seeing that either.

Dear Mark: I did what you recommended and called a casino host, told her I was a slot player, and informed her that I would be coming to their casino for four days next month. She told me that once I arrived to look her up, and she would try to take care of me. Will the perks I receive be based on how much I win or lose? Sarah M.

Well, Sarah, the first thing you are going to do upon arrival is fill out an application for their Player's club card. That card is the key to those complementary goodies. Of course, there can’t be any giveaways if you are not playing, or your card is not inserted in the machine. That’s why it’s recommended that every time you play, you should use your card so that the casino can track your coin-in (credit) play so you can earn points to justify comps. The greater the coin-in, the more compensation the casino is willing to part with.

Casinos generally decide what your comps will be based on your "theoretical loss,”, and not how much you actually win or lose. The formula is based on how much, and for how long you gamble, and the house edge on the machines you play. You then get a certain percentage of your theoretical loss back in the form of comps. A Player’s club card offers you the ability to “comp yourself” based on that formula.

Also, Sarah, have the casino host tell how many points you receive per dollar played, and what those points are worth in comps. This way you’ll know exactly what comps your action warrants, and which comps are out of your reach.

The warning here, Sarah, is that you shouldn’t increase your play just to receive comps, since this will mean greater losses in the long run. Stick to your allotted budget and the freebies should come your way.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week: "I thought I could do a great thing, but I completely fell on my ass. Just let me come home and do something that I do good." -- Si Redd, after losing $20 million on a Mississippi gambling ship enterprise. From King of the Slot