Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Slot Machine Sleight Of Hand

Do you think that when you "almost" win a jackpot, the machine is "due?" Think again. It's all part of the designed illusion to entice you to stick around. The Ottawa Citizen has a great article that explains the operation of modern slot machines. The good thing about newer machines is that there is the potential of huge jackpots. The bad thing is that there are a lot more losing plays.

The sea change in slot machines came with the Telnaes patent in 1984. His description of the invention says it all: "It is important to make a machine that is perceived to present greater chances of payoff than it actually has within the legal limitations that games of chance must operate."

What does that mean? Well basically, when you play, the microprocessor in the machine determines if you win some, lots or nothing. What's so bad about that, right? Well...there's a kinda bad and a really bad. The really bad you won't see in North American casinos, but the kinda bad you will.

The kinda bad is that modern machines program the non-winning symbols (usually blanks, but they count as symbols) to show up much more than winning symbols. For example, lets say the machine you're playing has 3 strips with 22 symbols on each strip, half of them blank. Assuming random chance, you would think a blank would happen 50% of the time on each strip, which would be correct. What if you knew the blanks were programmed to happen 90% of the time on each strip? The visual representation, however, lets you make the logical mental assumption that each symbol has an equal chance of occurring. Nope.

The really bad is when you play, the microprocessor determines if you win some, lots or nothing. If nothing, then the microprocessor tells the machine what symbols to stop on. That's not really bad. The really bad is that the microprocessor programs a loss to look like an almost win to make you think you just missed. That's really bad. Again, no North American jurisdictions allow this kind of machine. However, even with the kinda bad, you tend to get a lot of "near misses."

So why do this? So you will play longer. Read "play longer" as "lose more money."

"Near-misses create an "Aww, shucks" effect that keeps slots players glued to their stools. Studies have shown that frequent near-misses lead to significantly longer playing times. As one researcher put it: 'The player is not constantly losing, but constantly nearly winning.' "

So, if you know that, and keep that in mind while playing, you hopefully will continue to enjoy playing, but not get caught up and let your play get away from you.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

University Study Recommends Legalizing Online Gambling

A Reuters article discusses a new research study jointly conducted by the University of Western Ontario and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In the study, the researchers provide the breathaking finding that even though that internet gambling is predominantly illegal in the US and Canada, it is "readily accessible." (Wow, that's a newsflash)

The key take away is what's discussed later. The study recommends that governments encourage large corporations "like those that run the major Las Vegas casinos" enter the online gambling market. That is the news here. You see, it's all part of the dance.

The US Government and the big casino operators want in on the online gambling business (i.e. $$$$). Since the major operators were outside the US, the IRS wasn't getting any cash (i.e. $$$$). So, they outlaw "bad" internet gambling. But to get that cash, they just can't turn around and legalize it. You first have politicians seek to have a "study" to see if online gambling can be regulated. There's a bill in Congress to do just that. You also add a university study that recommends legalizing the industry and the stage is about set.

If Congress does pass a bill to study online gambling, what do you think the results will be? My guess is that the results will be something like, "if properly regulated, online gambling can be conducted safely, minimizing risk of problem gambling and underage gambling, etc." Now, the government line is that you can't do this safely, but if a "study" says so, then I guess that makes all the difference.

Then having online gambling illegal is just a ploy to clear the decks of offshore (i.e. non-$$$$ paying) competitors before the gambling big boys come to play. All companies that ran afoul of the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act (UIGEA) won't be able to play unless they pay big bucks to the US Government (i.e. $$$$). Do you wonder why Party Gaming is rumored to be in negotiations with the US Government with regard to liability for internet gambling before UIGEA passed (i.e. $$$$)?

The trend is clear. The move is afoot to "study" internet gambling. The big brick-and-mortar casino companies are just waiting and the big-name internet gambling companies that pulled out of the US after UIGEA passed will reach agreements with the US Government (i.e. $$$$) so they can play too.

Won't happen overnight, but watch for Congress to pass a bill authorizing a "study" next year. Don't be surprised if internet gambling becomes legalized in the US in the next few years.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pre-Season 2008 NFL Super Bowl Odds

Don't you like football? It's just around the corner. Who's going to win the Super Bowl? For those of you who like to put down a few dollars, pre-season odds are out. As would be expected, the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys are early favorites at 7/2 and 6/1, respectively.

An article from Online Casino Advisory has more details as well as discussing the hypocrisy of the professional sports leagues in the US that publicly proclaim their disdain for all things gambling but enjoy the increased popularity that gambling provides.

The key quote of the article is "the true engine that drives pro sports in general, and football in particular, is gambling. The NFL was propelled past baseball as America's sport because of interest in gambling, and the ease with which football is gambled upon."

Unfortunately, the longshots are only around 100/1. However, I don't think you really want to put down too much money on the Atlanta Falcons or Kansas City Chiefs winning it all this year.

There are several sites for odds - do shop around for the best payout if you are so inclined to wager. Good luck!

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