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Ask the Slot Expert: More adventures in cashless gaming at the slots

17 November 2021

Last week I received an email from the STN Cash (Station Casinos' system for cashless gaming at slot machines) support team. The email said that they were making some changes based on feedback from players.

The biggest change is in how cashing out is handled. After I had signed the account agreement and funded my account at the cage, I played a machine and hit the Cash Out button. I expected the machine to print a ticket because I had not connected to the machine using the STN Cash app on my phone.

The machine did not print a ticket. And my credits were gone.

The slot floorperson and I expected to see a ticket caught in the ticket out path when she opened up the machine. No ticket.

She checked the ticket log on the machine. The most recent entry was not for the amount I cashed out nor was it timestamped with the time I cashed out.

I assured her that I definitely cashed out about $80 a few minutes ago.

She checked the cash out log next. There it was! A record of my cash out. If it didn't go to a ticket, where did it go?

I said, "I just set up a STN Cash account. Could the money have gone there?"

She said, "Check your balance."

I opened up the app on my phone. The home screen, which shows your current balance, was $80 more than what I initially funded the account with ($5). The transaction history screen showed an $80 deposit to the account.

She said that once you go cashless, all your cashouts go to your STN Cash account.

That made sense. I want to go cashless. It just would have been nice if the "all cashouts cashless" procedure had been in the FAQs on the website or if someone had told me that after I set up the account.

Cashouts are not necessarily cashless now. Now you can choose whether you want the credits to go back to your account or to a ticket. Hitting the Cash Out button will get you a ticket. Disconnect from the machine using the app (assuming you connected to the machine using Cardless Connect in the app rather than putting in your players card) will transfer the funds to your STN Cash account.

I questioned this change at first. I thought that people were not fully embracing the cashless lifestyle.

After I thought about it, though, giving the player an easy way to choose between account and ticket made sense. Before the change, you had two ways to get cash out of your account. You could go to the cage and make a withdrawal from the account, or you could transfer money to your linked bank account and then withdraw the cash from it at the bank or an ATM. If you don't have an account that refunds out-of-network ATM fees, you could end up paying a fee to get money from your STN Cash account.

There should be some contactless way to convert cash in the account to cash in your pocket.

Now you can withdraw money from your account by transferring it to a machine, hitting Cash Out to get a ticket, and then redeeming the ticket at a kiosk.

The other change mentioned in the email makes no sense to me. Before the change, if you left a machine without disconnecting from it in the app, the machine would eventually do a Card Out and automatically transfer any credits you left on the machine back to your account.

Now the credits just stay on the machine.

I thought the automatic transfer was a great safety feature. We've all gotten distracted by something and left a machine without cashing out. The automatic transfer limited the damage thieves could do if they tried to play the credits you left behind.

Unfortunately, the Cash Out button change once again makes it possible for a thief to steal your credits by cashing them out. The changes removed some of the safety features of using a STN Cash account.

I would suggest to the STN Cash team that they undo these changes and add an option in the app to Disconnect with Transfer or Disconnect with Ticket. This may not be possible with the current software.

I had a few glitches on my most recent attempts to use my STN Cash account. I took out a marker, which they gave to me in a ticket. (I didn't ask if they could just put the funds in my STN Cash account.) I had played an NSU machine for a while when a lady started playing the machine at the other end of the bank.

Every few seconds she coughed. Just a little cough.

I thought that maybe she had Tourette's. Or maybe she had what my old boss had that made him cough a few times a minute when the weather got cold in New Jersey. (Appropriately, his last name was pronounced cough-us.)

I figured I could live with this. I'm masked and she's masked.

Well, actually, only I was masked. She had a cup of coffee and a takeout container in front of her and no mask in sight. I don't know what she's got going on. I'm moving.

I disconnected using the app (so my funds went to my STN Cash account) and went to another machine. When I checked the home screen in the app after I settled in at my new machine, the balance available was unavailable. There were just dashes after the dollar sign instead of numbers. In tiny type underneath was this message: STN Cash is processing.

I tried connecting to the machine to see if that helped. It didn't. I pressed the button to try to transfer money to the game to see if it was just a display problem, but all I got was an error message. At least the deposit did appear in my transaction history, so the money was in the account even if the app couldn't display it.

I waited a few minutes to see if the problem would clear up. It didn't. Now I had a problem. All of my money was in my STN Cash account and the app was holding my money hostage. Off to the cage to see if they know anything about the problem and to see if they could withdraw money from my account.

I explained my problem to the cashier. I should have just asked her if she could withdraw money from my account, but instead I asked if she could see the balance. I figured that she would say yes and that I would then ask her to give some of it.

She said that she couldn't see my balance. This was mostly true. She couldn't see the account using a standard cage terminal, but her supervisor could using the STN Cash terminal at the STN Cash window at the end of the cage.

We moved down to the STN Cash window where the cashier asked me to see if my app could connect to the machine they have there. I had no problems connecting. She said she would call the cage supervisor.

When the supervisor arrived, the cashier told her that I could connect to the machine, my slot club points appeared on the machine, but my money didn't. I said that the money doesn't automatically go to the machine. You have to use the Fund Game button in the app to transfer money from the STN Cash account to a machine.

The supervisor called STN Cash support. We went through the same troubleshooting steps again. While she was on hold with the support tech, she said to me that the only thing she could do is withdraw cash from the account.

I said that that was really what I wanted. I wanted to report the problem and see if there was a system problem or if there was something they could do to clear it. If it couldn't be cleared, then I wanted to withdraw some cash so I could play.

After that 20 minute farrago, I finally had some playing money. I settled in at another machine and feed cash into it.

While I was playing, a support tech called me to ask what kind of phone I had. When I was finished playing -- and cashed out into a ticket -- I checked the app again. My balance was there now. I would be back tomorrow for gift day. I'll use my ticket to fund the game and then disconnect to transfer my credits back to my account.

The next day, when I was finished playing, I hit the Disconnect button in the app. A confirmation dialog appeared. It said that my credits would be transferred to my STN Cash account.

Good. That's what I want. I touched OK. The machine printed a ticket.

It looks like we went from always cashless to never cashless.

I went to pick up my gift and figured I would deal with this problem on my next visit.


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John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots