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American Coin: Frank Romano's Story Of Betrayal | Nevada Public Radio


Just an editorial on slot machines... I was in Las Vegas about a year ago and was disappointed that they took paper money and paid out by printing a slip of paper to take to the cashier to cash. About 10 years ago I remember feeding coins into the slot machine and having it dump out coins for the winning pulls.
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Carmichael is one of the most successful slot machine cheats, although he has spent time in prison for his crimes. He began cheating slot machines in 1980 when he used a metal device that was inserted into the coin slot and then triggered a payout.
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Man wanted in murder of slot tech arrested in Arizona - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper



American Coin provides an unforgettable glimpse behind closed doors of Nevada's biggest gaming scandal as one man embarks on a road to redemption lined with betrayal, deception, and murder. 238 Pgs. 2013
With legalized gambling in many states, slot machines today are an accepted part of American life. According to the American Gambling Association, in just casinos and racetracks around the US alone, slot machines annually bring in over $21 billion in revenues. A lot of nickels, dimes, quarters and Sacagawea dollars.

We know that there are gaming regulatory agencies that are supposed to provide the public with protection from playing on a rigged machine but how is it done?
Being the nosy guy that I am, these were a couple of questions I was curious to get answered and it ended up taking me on a little bit of an adventure.
Not only did it result in this story about the regulatory process for electronic gaming machines but it also led me to question the motives of a national news organization.
In the United States there are only four states that have their own facilities for testing electronic gaming machines: Montana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Nevada.
It only made sense to start with the biggest state first, so in February 1997.
I called the Nevada Gaming Control Board to ask for permission to visit their testing lab in Las Vegas.
Twelve days later I received a reply from him stating that I was welcome to visit the lab but that some parts of it were confidential and would not be accessible to me.
He only requested that I call that department in advance to make an appointment.
A few days later I called and made arrangements for a visit on March 18 at 3:00 p.
Then, on March 12, just six days before the scheduled visit, I was watching television when I switched channels and caught a story on the ABC News show PrimeTime Live about slot machines.
The story focused on the computer chips in slot machines and began with parts of an interview with Frank Romano who, Ross said, was banned from the industry because a company he owned with two partners was charged with rigging its video poker machines to avoid giving out royal flush jackpots.
Ross went on to say that the public knows little about the inner workings of machines and that PrimeTime conducted a four-month see more into the industry that included numerous interviews with industry officials, the reading of confidential documents and the viewing of secret video tapes of an interview with a former state gaming official who was involved in a slot cheating scandal.
Romano then gave an example where a slot machine would line up two 7s on the payline and have the third 7 settle below the payline making people think they were close to winning.
He said those kind of results were programmed into the machines on purpose.
Ross said the casinos pay out up to 98% on these machines and that Romano claimed the industry came up with this idea as a way to get the dollar volume up by keeping the players at the machines for a longer period.
Next was an interview with Bill Bible, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board who said that cheaters would be caught and prosecuted.
Harris was eventually convicted of felony cheating charges.
Questioner: To make the customer feel as though they came very close to getting a jackpot and that perhaps the next one or the next one, to paraphrase the ad, the baby would be ready to deliver?
The interview with Bible then continued with him confirming that Harris was a former employee who had a great deal of knowledge about the industry and that his allegations were still under review.
Baker replied that Harris said a lot of things, however, Harris was a convicted felon but Baker and his company were not.
Baker then denied there was any favoritism given to his company that he knew about.
A voice-over from Ross then commented that gambling industry critics have concerns about the regulations that are in place and the scene shifted back to gambling addiction expert Valerie Lorenz who said the casino industry makes the laws in Nevada and she questioned if any other business would be allowed to get away with deceiving the public in such a manner.
The next scene shifted back to Bill Bible with Ross questioning him as to whether or not he thought the public was treated fairly when playing gaming machines in Las Vegas.
Bible replied that he had no doubt the public was indeed treated fairly.
The final scene went back to Romano who said that the machines were designed to entertain the public as well as to take their money.
Ross then asked if a casino customer is better off going to the machines or to one of the table games.
The very next day U.
Representative Frank Wolf R-Va.
The segment also became a subject of discussion that same day in the Manitoba Parliament when Gary Doer, an opposition party leader, called for a government investigation into the matter because a Winnipeg casino used slot machines manufactured by IGT.
Well, this certainly was an interesting can of worms that had been opened.
It surely gave me some additional direction for the questions I wanted to ask but, actually, I was already familiar with the subjects raised in this report.
I knew that American Coin was the company that Frank Romano had been associated with and that it was involved in the biggest cheating scandal in Nevada gaming history.
Authorities also pursued a criminal case against the company but were later forced to drop those proceedings when their star witness Larry Volk, the American Coin programmer who said he had been ordered to program the rigged chips, was shot in the back of the head and killed outside his Las Vegas mobile home in October 1990.
Romano, who was a one-third partner in the company along with his brother-in-law and father-in-law, claimed he never knew of the cheating scheme.
This resulted in Universal having to reprogram about 15,000 of its machines throughout the state.
I knew this was an issue that I had to bring up during my visit to the play free video slots no download lab.
All of my questioning was directed to Robinson, but occasionally Gale would supply an answer to help clarify an issue.
How did your department come about?
We also had a group of computer programmers, who did in-house computer programming, and that was in the administration division.
The Board decided to form a separate division that had all the technical resources in one division and that became Electronic Services.
Do you know when it first started?
They started looking at the mechanical machines and developed sort of an expertise in the enforcement division first.
Then, as the electronics grew in the machines, they realized they needed an electronics group to handle it.
How many people are in the department?
There are a total of 18 in electronics and computer services.
What is the background of all the people that check the machines?
How long have you been here?
The lab inspectors, the whole thing.
And the lab part tests the machines?
Yes, out in the field and prior to approval.
We have a group that does both.
This is for the entire state?
For the entire state.
So, some of you would go to Reno?
We do have agents who are permanently stationed in the Carson City office: four of them.
Three of them go out and one is their supervisor who also does some in-house work with the electronic equipment.
We have about a six-month process to get it approved.
We look at the source code.
We look at the principles behind how the random generation occurs and we look through the source code for any possible problems.
What is the source code?
The source code is the programming that makes the machine run.
Do you get a written printout of the programming?
Generally, we get it on a floppy disk so that we can use our computer tools to review it faster.
What do you look for?
When you approve a particular model of machine.
Do you just approve the initial program or every program the machine can use?
We do approve each program.
The first program that is approved is the first model of that machine.
It goes through the entire process and it gets presented to the Board and the Commission for their approval or denial.
If the machine is approved then the manufacturer may modify it under the regulations and they can make all kinds of variations to that real money roulette american />They primarily get a platform approved, like a spinning-reel slot machine or a video poker machine.
Then all of the minor variations, like changes in paytables, or in the case of poker you go from regular poker to deuces wild, to jokers wild, to any possible combinations you can think of… Gale: We should probably say that before you can actually submit a device to the lab for its inspection approval you need to have a license in the state of Nevada.
You have to apply to us and you have to submit to a background and financial investigation.
Once you have that license in hand you can then submit your device for approval.
They go out and install one or more machines at that location and we administer a field trial where we observe please click for source machine for problems on the floor.
We also have the location tell us about any problems they may have with it.
What can happen in the field test to disrupt the approval process?
Gale: Like pouring a soft drink down the coin acceptor to see if it will trip the coin hopper!
Some of the mechanical problems will also show up a lot more in the field than they will in the lab.
Every machine has to have the capability to count the coin in and the coin out.
They can make all the variations to that machine that they want to within the technical standards.
How do you know that the chips in the machines are within the limits of the law?
Is every machine tested?
Every machine play free video slots no download tested to a degree, yes.
When a manufacturer submits changes he gives a summary list of his changes in the chips.
Initially, are you approving the chip or the whole machine?
If a casino wants to change a chip inside a machine to make it payback less do they have to let you know?
Who puts the chip in?
The casino or the manufacturer?
It depends on their relationship with the manufacturer.
Sometimes the manufacturer will come out and do it or sometimes play free video slots no download larger casinos have an in-house staff that can do it and they can probably do it cheaper that way but you need some experience in doing that.
And each chip is set to pay back a certain amount?
How many approved chips are there?
We have a total of about 45,000 chips approved for all machines.
How many are approved for any particular brand of machine?
It would depend on the particular brand.
It could be anywhere from two or three all the way up to several thousand.
Different manufacturers do it different ways.
Some put the part that is the random number generator in one chip and then put the attributes about the payout percentage in a separate chip and that makes it easier to sort of mix and match.
There is a code number which we have on file that contains all of the attributes on that chip including its percentage.
Are the chips in the machines sealed or taped?
But we detect modification through the inspection process.
Robinson: Also, the tape could be missing but the chip could be just fine.
So, if you do go after a machine that had been taped and the tape was gone maybe somebody just took the chip out and put it back in again.
Are all of the machines taped?
When we go out to the field we have a laptop computer that has a database with all of the signatures of all of the chips so it knows what all of the chips should look like.
We take the machine apart and we take the chips out of the machine.
We put them into our laptop and press the button and it will read the chip and all of the contents in there.
It will do the same calculations on those chips that we did here in the office.
You only do this on a spot basis?
How long does american slot play machine online original take you to visit every casino and do you visit every casino?
We do try to visit every casino and our cycle is about every two years.
Is it completely different or just a couple of bytes different?
It could be anywhere from a simple violation letter all the way up to loss of license.
Is it actually a gaffe where the house or player is cheated?
We had the case of American Coin back in 1989 where they were specifically putting in gaffed chips that produced no poker royal flushes.
What they would do was after they selected the reels, if you had a losing combination they would present a different losing combination that was more like 7, 7 and 7 just below the line.
Gale: After it determined that a losing combination was selected then it went out and got different symbols to display to make it look like you just barely missed a jackpot.
Robinson: More frequently than it should.
Each possible combination of game elements which produce winning or losing game outcomes must be available for random selection at the initiation of each play.
The selection process must not produce detectable patterns of game elements.
After selection of the game outcome, the gaming device must not make a variable secondary decision which affects the result shown to the player.
After the interview we took a brief tour of the lab.
I guess I had visions of a sprawling lab with technicians in white coats scurrying about in a high-tech environment.
The highlight was seeing the area where the approved chips were kept.
It consisted of a series of storage cabinets that were covered with a heavy-gauge metal screen and padlocks.
My visit left me with the impression that these guys were obviously very good at what they did and there seemed to be a lot of safeguards in place to prevent cheating on a machine.
It just seemed that the department was kind of small for the massive amount of work it needed to do.
But what about the other states?
Do they do it differently?
We do the pro-active review of the games.
How many people are in the department?
How many actually go out in the field to test the machines?
How many machines are there?
Do you test every single machine in the city?
Every game that goes up in the casinos, we go out and we inspect every game.
We actually seal the chip onto the circuit board.
How long does it take you to inspect all of the games in the city?
What we do is I have an audit program set up where we use a random selections process.
We go out and we take from the population of slot machines.
We have a random start and we pick every Nth one.
We go out and we just inspect all those games from top to bottom.
We come back and record it.
Are you selecting by kind of game or by casino?
All of the other times we go and do inspections is when the casino is calling us to change the payoff percentage, do denomination changes, put bill acceptors on, or do some kind of a modification to the game.
Then we go in, we inspect the games and sign off on the paperwork.
The games goes up and we come back and document it in our database.
We pre-inspect every machine before it goes up.
It has to have the approved EPROM computer chip.
What I do keep track of on a database is the last time we looked at a game so at any point in time I can query for any game that has been looked at any variety of times.
Can a casino go in and change an EPROM on their own?
Not in this jurisdiction.
What do the casinos do when they want to make a change?
How does your approval process work for a new machine?
Well, naturally, the company would have to be licensed, or at least be in the licensing process, before they could submit a product.
They send in click to see more full slot machine.
They also send in more detailed documentation on the random number generator used within the game.
What kind of testing do you do?
The first thing we check is the random number generator to make sure that there are no discernible patterns within that program.
Then we do a physical review of the game.
A lot of times the tendency by a manufacturer is to make these machines real user friendly and sometimes they can go to excess and give them the casino the ability to change payout percentages without any notification to management or the regulators.
So we would have them remove anything that could compromise the integrity of the game.
The final step is to do an emulation of the game.
We take it into the lab and then with our electronic equipment, rather than just playing the game, we force pays and we force losers.
For instance, we require that all machines lock up on the top award.
So, if you receive the top award, say a royal flush, then you should not be able to throw those cards away.
About how long does it take for your approval process?
The time is really subjective to the experience of the company and the familiarity of the company with our regulations.
Also, location has a big difference.
So those are factors that extend the time of the prototype approval.
It was discovered while it was in here for approval but the facts are that it was discovered at the same time in Nevada and that company withdrew it from the approval process here.
So, actually, we never did issue a letter on it.
Well, it would be illegal in this jurisdiction if someone were to send one in.
Do you consider a video poker machine to be different than a slot machine?
Only to the fact that we require the payout percentage to be 2% higher on a game that is affected by skill.
You require it to be 2% higher?
It was a policy adopted by the Commission about the time that video pokers were approved because of a field test.
They went out and they watched people play and it was determined that someone who was very unskilled at playing poker could lower the payout percentage of the game below the minimum standard just by continually making poor selections.
So they thought they should raise it2% so that even a poor player would have a better chance with the added 2% payout.
The minimum return on slots is 83% so the video poker machines would have to return a minimum of 85%?
Are the machines allowed to do that?
As part of our proactive approach to the game inspection we do no tallow dip switches.
We do not allow a casino to arbitrarily change the payout percentages.
We do keep a record on what program is in there at read more times for investigative and auditing purposes.
The casinos are required, when they do their count of the games, to calculate the payout percentage of the american coin slot machine scandal and compare it to the theoretical payout and investigate the differences.
They have to report that to us for every slot machine.
They have to tell you the theoretical payout?
We require them to compare the actual with the theoretical and we tell them what the theoretical is.
What are the sanctions you can take against a casino if you find them in violation of your policies?
We have licensing requirements with internal controls where an entity would have to report this and someone in a certain department is required to report those things.
Generally, most of these things can be worked out by going to the individual.
If the coin-in light is off how are you going to know that the coin was accepted?
After our interview I took a tour of the testing facilities and I noticed it contained many of the same electronic testing machines that I had seen in the Nevada lab.
The only difference here was that the facilities were spread out in three smaller rooms as opposed to being in one room.
Also, I guess my timing was better here because I did see a few people working on some projects.
My impression, once again, was that many safeguards were in place for the article source />Actually, there seemed to be more safeguards in New Jersey because of their restrictions on the ability of the casinos to go in and make changes to the machines on their own.
After leaving the state facility my next stop was at Gaming Labs International in Toms River, about 75 miles north https://shg-sky.info/american/american-slot-machine.html Atlantic City.
GLI is a private testing facility that is contracted by gaming regulatory agencies throughout the world to do testing of gaming machines as well as lottery and keno systems.
In1989 GLI was the first independent testing lab to open in the U.
The company is hired by regulatory agencies for consulting on gaming issues as click as for auditing programs but its primary function is the testing and monitoring of electronic gaming equipment.
GLI is the largest company of its kind in the world and in 1996 Maida was named one of the top 25 most influential people in gaming by International Gaming and Wagering Business Magazine.
Besides its Toms River headquarters GLI also has offices in Colorado, Africa and Australia.
I wrote a few months ahead to ask about visiting the lab and made arrangements with Todd Elsasser, Director of Operations, to meet for an interview and a tour of the facility.
Elsasser and I spoke in his office for about 45minutes and then went on a tour of the facility which had a much larger area devoted to testing than either of the state facilities.
There also seemed to be about a dozen or so people directly working in those areas, but still — no white lab coats!
Elsasser and I covered a lot of subjects and when I sat down to write this story I called him back to ask him a few more questions.
We would not be able to make any statements, nor should we be quoted in your publication.
The truth is, however, that it was pretty similar to what was said in both Nevada and at the state facility in New Jersey: there are safeguards in place to regulate gaming machines in all of the states with legalized casino gambling.
The regulations may differ slightly from state-to-state, but there are programs in place to protect the public when playing in a regulated jurisdiction.
see more, if a machine had three reels and each reel had 22 stops, then the maximum number of combinations that particular machine could show was 10,648 22x 22 x 22.
The only problem is that the actual reels in the machines still only have 22 physical stops, so the computer must tell the reels where they should stop.
The Nevada Gaming Commission held extensive hearings on this subject and on September 22, 1988 it filed a stipulation declaring it legal.
In this instance Whittemore used it to refer to combinations appearing above and below the payline.
Which brings us back to the PrimeTimeLive report.
I believe they did.
It seemed that the ABC news show had its mind made up going into the story and set out to find any source of information that could help lead to their preconceived conclusions.
After all, their two prime sources were a convicted slot cheat and a former gaming industry official with a bias against Nevada gaming regulators.
If they wanted to be fair they should have at least hired an independent lab to check the claims of their sources and report those results in their broadcast.
Chances are pretty good, however, that this issue will continue to linger and the industry will one day american hot slot grangemouth to come up with a way to permanently resolve it.
And how does this story affect you?
Well, american roulette slots least when you walk into a casino and play a slot machine in a regulated jurisdiction you can be assured that measures have been taken to assure you of a fair game.
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