Florida Casinos getting richer off Slot Machines that keep the change

For decades, casinos have found new ways to make even more money by devising intricate rule alterations to classic gambling amusements that offer a higher advantage to the house. Traditionally, slot machines have some of the worst payout percentages in the casino industry. Now, operators of South Florida casinos have found yet another way to separate patrons from their money.

A new strain of automatic slot machines are occupying the casinos in Florida, and they’ve been programmed to ‘keep the change’. All casino goers are familiar with tipping the dealer’s at the card tables and the bartender or waitress that brings our beverages. When bathroom attendants were installed at higher class establishments, most of us were perturbed that this guy holding a towel expects another bill from our pockets. So you can imagine how upset fans of the slot machines are to find their favorite amusements are, for all intents and purposes, accepting gratuity.

Okay, so I may be exaggerating a bit, but only by a small margin. These slot machines are designed to accept monetary bills, but when it comes time to collect a player’s winnings, only bills are expelled from the machine. Any change remaining in the player’s balance will be delivered in the form of a ticket that can only be redeemed at the cashier cage.

Now imagine you’ve just inserted $20 and worked it up to $45.50. You decide to cash out and spend the winnings on dinner at one of the casino’s restaurants. The machine gives you $45, and a piece of paper redeemable for $0.50. How likely are you to collect that $0.50? What if the cashier cage has a line of 3+ people? The sad reality is that the majority of slot machine enthusiasts won’t bother to exchange the ticket.

It’s only $0.50 though, is it really so “sad”, you ask? Let’s do some basic math here. Maybe one Florida casino has 20,000 patrons using its slot machines in a single day. Upon cash out, they all average $0.25 in redeemable tickets, but none choose to collect their measly quarter. The casino has just made a profit of $5,000! Yes, 20,000 quarters equals five grand. Multiply that across 5 South Florida casinos, and you’ve got $25,000 syphoned into their pockets. So In essence, that quarter you just waved off became a huge payout for Florida casinos.

One Coconut Creek resident did the math and came to the same conclusion. “I just think it’s so deplorable,” said Todd Forrest. “It’s like they didn’t give a rat’s butt about the smaller customers.”

Miami native Todd Myers was also “really annoyed” by the new automatic slot machines, and he actually came up with a good idea. “It should be required that the extra money be donated somewhere.” But what’s the likelihood of that happening?

Casino officials justify the use of the new slot machines by claiming that old, dirty coins have a tendency to jam and break the devices over time. A representative of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL offered several solutions for customers. He said they can save up their tickets and cash them all in together at a later date, insert the ticket back into a slot machine, or simply redeem it at one of the cashiers.

At present, the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood and Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek are the only two casinos in the state to install the new slot machines. They are schedule to be installed at the Seminole Classic in the near future. None of Florida’s pari-mutuel or jai-alai betting facilities have invested in them yet.

The Toronto-based company that manufactures the automatic slot machines, NRT Corp., declined to comment on the issue.