Internal Failure Rates: Gaming Equipment Manufacturing Industry 2
Our research of internal failure rates in the gaming equipment manufacturing industry, and slot machines and lottery machines in particular, has revealed a long series of errors which are mostly caused by software defects, including incorrect programming. To a lesser extent, display errors occur due to internal mechanical issues connected to the programming software. This leads us to believe that purely mechanical, internal errors are very rare. We have come across data suggesting the possibility of minor internal mechanical errors caused by external factors like heat, as has been the case with the Arizona Lottery machines described below.
Slot machine failures
- Display errors are usually caused by a software malfunction.
- Mechanical errors are considered to be electro-mechanical in nature and can also result in incorrectly displayed payout amounts.
- Software malfunctions tend to display incorrectly high winnings, while mechanical malfunctions tend to display incorrectly low winnings or no winnings at all.
- Software malfunctions can be caused by computer chip defects of the random number generator (RNG) which controls credit displays. If the symbols displayed don't match those generated by the random number generator (RNG), the resulting payout display is treated as erroneous.
- An example of a mechanical defect is a jammed coin or bill acceptor, which can disconnect the hardware from the software and lead to a temporary shutdown and consecutive display errors.
- A jammed coin acceptor on a slot machine in Las Vegas caused a display error showing a $463,895 jackpot in the year 2000.
- In 1996, a player thought that he had won $1,800,000 because the slot machine cash door was not firmly locked causing a temporary system shutdown, followed by a reset and a payout display error.
- The slot machine can stop the spinning reels causing a display error in cases where internal mechanical parts seem out of order. An instance in which the internal bill counter was not secured in place, caused the reel to stop and display a winning set.
- Setting errors can be traced back to poor programming which, in turn, causes software failures. Slot machine manufacturers sometimes make mistakes in the settings as was the case with IGT and the Imperial Palace Casino. The settings errors resulted in maximum jackpot displays being much higher than the casino intended.
- In 2011, the slot manufacturer Aristocrat had warned the Isle Casino of possible jackpot display errors recommending repair. Instead, a player was misled into thinking she had won $41,797,550.
- The International Game Technology (IGT) is the largest slot machine manufacturer in the world. In 2009, a slot player at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino received an electric shock causing her to fall to the ground. She then sued Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and IGT Inc. for damages caused by IGT's slot machine malfunction.
Lottery machine failures
- In 2017 the Arizona Lottery's random number generator (RNG) generated the same winning numbers multiple times which lead to an independent investigation by a forensic technology firm. It was concluded that the lottery machines suffered mechanical defects due to excessive heat.
- In 2013, the Arizona Lottery machines had a programming error which prevented certain numbers to be drawn and greatly increased the winning odds for the majority of the players.
- According to a New York Times article, a South Carolina Lottery machines' programming error produced an excessively large number of winning lottery tickets in 2017.
To find internal failure rates of slot and lottery machines we have searched industry and news sites and have found numerous cases of slot machine players who did not receive their winnings due to malfunctions. The news sites and industry websites searched include Slashdot, Market Watch, Casino Vendors, Schneier, Casino Players Report, Tech Dirt, CNN Money, Chicago Tribune, Smokey Mountain News, Easy Vegas, Slots Mamma, CNET, Denver Post, CBS News, Pocono Record, LA Times and Washington Post. Below you will find a detailed list containing all sources and quotes.
Additionally, we searched slot and lottery machine manufacturers' individual websites for troubleshooting and support pages, as well as PDF parts and repair manuals, to no availability.
We have come across some PDF documents including the IGT2015 parts catalog by Suzahapp which offers replacement parts and repair kits but contains no information about defects or malfunctions.
Worldwide Gaming sells slot machine repair and service manuals on their website but otherwise provides no information on failure rates or related statistics.
In all of our search, the most technically detailed sources we have come across are the Lottery Post article about the Arizona Lottery machine failure and Michael Bluejay's Easy Vegas article about slot machine malfunctions.