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Murky Waters When Gambling at Sea

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark: You have said casinos are regulated to make sure slot machines are random and honest. On cruise ships, who regulates the slot machines?

The start of cruise ship gambling came about when the 1991 Cruise Ship Competitiveness Act was passed. The act gave United States cruise ships the Chance to offer gambling games once the ship hit international waters.

The laws for land-based casinos are pretty much cut and dry. It is much more difficult to find out who is enforcing the laws at sea.

There is an organization called the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL)that offers “some” controls when it comes to the regulation of gambling on cruise ships. But alas, Phillip, it is not even close to the level of gaming control agencies in any US land-based casino market. Since cruise ships operate in international waters, they are not bound by land-based casino rules and regulations.

If you happen to have some kind of dispute while gambling at sea, you are not likely to find an ICCL gaming control agent on the ship. Your options in this case are to speak to the casino manager, or, if that doesn't help, you could bring the problem to the attention of the hotel manager. There is not much else you can do to resolve the issue Phillip.

Whether there are adequate regulations or not, there really is no reason for the casino to cheat their captive audience. After all, a seafaring casino offers the only game in town. Competition does usually raise slot payoffs. But, on the open water, a cruise ship has none, just a confined audience.

The casino knows you are on a holiday, with pockets full of spendable cash that you want to throw away and that they probably won't see you again. The casino is NOT looking for repeat business because most people are probably never coming back.

Thus, as a one-time player, plan on a cruising for a bruising on paybacks on slot play from these luxury liners. At the very best the payback percentages are awful.

My recommendation is that you don't play slots aboard a cruise ship. After all,a cruise ship offers plenty of other fun activities to keep you entertained. If you really miss pulling that slot handle, Phillip, you can use the same yanking motion on one of the elliptical trainers on board. You are far better off spending time and energy on one of those machines than you would be sitting in front of a one-armed bandit.

Dear Mark: I am wondering if a slot machine knows how much money you deposit at when you first start to play? And, if so, does that make any difference in the percentage payout you receive?
Bev G.

Well Bev, the software program that runs on a slot machine does know exactly how much money you have put in. It has to know how many credits you have to play, in order to light the Bet Max button, or any of the other options the machine has.

But rest assured, the amount of money you deposited does not have an effect on the Random Number Generator (RNG), nor does the machine care how many credits you have left, have played, or are going to play on the next spin. As a matter of fact, many gaming jurisdictions have specific regulations that state the RNG must not be influenced by the number of coins played.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
“What happens on a cruise ship, ends up all over Facebook.” – Mark Pilarski, hijacked from “What happens in Vegas…”