Thursday, November 29, 2007

Succumbing to the Slot Machine

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This post would only be of interest to someone who has never played a slot machine. If you have, these are not the droids you are looking for, move along...

In a half hour break during my Better Software Conference in Las Vegas, I went to Casino Royale to get their free "Fun Book" including $50 in free slot play. I was sure that I had enough time to walk there and back and whiz through "$50" at 2 credits (dollars) to play. I sat down, fed my fake money and started pressing the button. Ding ding ding, 7 7 Bar. Oh, so close! Pressed again. And again. Suddenly, I felt like a lab rat, pressing the button for a prize. The prize of watching the wheels spin and the lights flash hypnotically before my eyes. Every once in a while, I got 3 bars and 10 or 20 extra credits (They only pay out for jackpots). I was so mesmerized, I couldn't even take a straight picture of the machine! I managed to finish my rat experiment in about 10 minutes, in time to get back to the next conference session.

Now the free play could occur only on designated promotional slot machines, so I was convinced that these machines were rigged never to win. I'm not sure how they can do this with a mechanical machine, but it would definitely be possible with those video slot machines since it is just software. In fact, software for slot machines came up during a keynote speech at the conference. Slot machines are programmed to pay out around 92% (determined by the gaming board). One company's machine shipped with a software bug that paid out 0.1% more than the allotted percentage. Now the cost of this software bug was exponential. First the company had to pay out $2 million to the casino in lost revenue, then $1 million to the Nevada gaming commission, and finally its stock took a $500 million dollar plunge due to lost consumer confidence. Talk about cost of poor quality! Luckily none of my software bugs will have that kind of monetary impact. wink

1 comment :

melissa said...

Don't worry. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. :)

So the next time my kids say being off by .1 in a decimal problem doesn't matter, I can tell them this!

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