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Ask the Slot Expert: Pressing someone's buttons can win you a jackpot

15 December 2021

Question: I have two friends that went to Tachi Palace Casino in Lemoore, CA. Friend #1 sits at slot and starts playing and goes to bonus round of 8 spins. On the second bonus spin she hits the GRAND JACKPOT of $15,700. She gets dizzy and feels like passing out. Then moves from chair and friend #2 sits on chair and finishes the other six spins.

When claiming the prize casino says the friend #2 according to video cameras was sitting on chair and friend #1 couldn't claim prize. And now friend #2 wants half of the prize. The friend #2 name was put on the ticket that was given to them.

Reminder friend #1 was her money and she pushed the button that gave the Grand Prize.

What steps should friend #1 do to have the casino review the video tapes? Or all prizes are final? Also, they were banned from the casino for 30 days for more than one person pressing the slot machine. So unable to claim prize for 30 days.

Thank you for your time. Waiting for guidance.

Answer: Wow. This is a mess. Your friend has a problem. My guidance is to get an attorney. She's going to need one.

Banned for 30 days because two people played a machine? I'm always amazed at what some casinos outside Las Vegas do to their players who commit misdemeanors against their rules.

Casinos are one of the most heavily surveilled public spaces. That said, not every machine has a dedicated camera to record everything that happens on it. A group of machines may be covered by one camera and surveillance may zoom in on a particular machine only if they have a reason to suspect that something improper or unusual is happening on it.

From what you said, it sounds like the casinos has already reviewed the footage. Perhaps it can't tell from the footage when the jackpot hit to verify that friend #1 pressed the button for that spin. The angle may not clearly show the results of the spins -- though I find it hard to believe that they couldn't see the orgasmic displays most machines put on for significant wins.

In any case, casinos have a simple rule about who wins at a slot machine. They don't know anything about any financial arrangements two or more players may have made. Their rule is that the person who pressed the button wins the jackpot.

Another reason sometimes given for why jackpots go to the button pusher is that pushing the button is actually making the wager. Consider this: What if you press the Bet 1 button and I press the Spin button? Isn't pressing the Bet 1 button making the wager? I've never seen a machine that lets you undo a Bet 1 press. Pressing Spin does initiate the resolution of the wager, but it was irrevocably made at Bet 1. Who should get the jackpot in this case?

Another problem is raised if we use the he-who-made-the-wager rationale. In your case, friend #2 started pressing the button in the midst of a free game bonus round. Let me emphasize FREE. Friend #2 was not making any wagers. The spin that initiated the bonus round had the last wager made on the machine and friend #1 pressed the button on that spin.

I think a player who didn't hit the Spin button might be able to raise a legitimate case when the he-who-made-the-wager rationale is used. For that reason, I think the best rationale to use is he-who-initiated-the-game wins the jackpot. I, the casino, don't know -- or want to know -- anything about your financial arrangements, playing agreements, whatever. The one thing I can verify on my own is who pressed the Spin button and that's the person I'll pay.

That raises the problem of a bonus round that consists of multiple spins that have to be initiated individually with the winnings aggregated and awarded at the conclusion of the round. What happens when the person controlling the Spin button changes mid-round? This scenario didn't exist decades ago when casinos first set the he-who-pressed-it-gets-it rule. Maybe we should say the-last-person-who-pressed-it-gets-it.

This reminds me of the analysis talking heads on news programs sometimes give about court decisions. Sometimes one side loses because it had a faulty argument for its position, not because its position was wrong. The casino has a problem if it justifies he-who-pressed-it-gets-it because that person made the wager because there are situations in which pressing the Spin button does not make a wager.

Did you know that slot machines have their own version of a dead-man switch? It's actually a Bizarro world dead-man switch. On a piece of machinery, if the operator releases the dead-man switch, the machinery will stop operating to prevent a runaway condition if the operator should become incapacitated.

Interactive bonus rounds have their own dead-man switches. In this case, the machine is waiting for the player to do something, e.g., choose an icon on the screen, press the Spin button. If the player still hasn't done the required action after a certain length of time, the machine will do it for him. If the player had to make a selection, the machine will use the RNG to choose one of the items at random.

I think your friend's attorney should immediately contact the casino to ensure it preserves the video coverage from the time in question. Perhaps the attorney can request that the casino re-review all coverage available to confirm that friend #1 pressed the button on the jackpot-winning spin.

Best case scenario is that friend #1 gets paid for the spins she initiated and friend #2 gets paid for the spins she initiated. (Well, best case is that friend #1 gets all the money, but I don't think that will happen because of the she-who-pressed-it-gets-it rule.)

The most likely outcome, I believe, is that the casino will pay friend #2 (who was no right to any of the money -- not even any of the money won on the spins she initiated, as far as I'm concerned) and friend #1 will have to sue friend #2 to get the money. Friend #1 should reduce the amount she is seeking by the taxes friend #2 paid on the money.

Actually, there's another best case scenario. Friend #2 accepts the money and files IRS Form 5754 (Statement by Person(s) Receiving Gambling Winnings) to declare that she is not the actual winner and hands over all of the money to friend #1.

The lesson here is that you should never let another person play for you unless you have a written agreement about how you are going to handle the winnings.

It's no consolation, but your friend is not the only one who has had a similar problem. He lost a slot machine jackpot because his friend pushed the button.

Let us know how this ends.


Let's say you are going to play a multi-denominational machine and you want to bet $5 per spin. The max bet at the lowest denomination (pennies) is $5 and the minimum bet at the highest denomination (dimes) is also $5. Which will you play and why? Maximum bet at minimum denomination or minimum bet at maximum denomination?

Drop me a line at email address at the bottom of this page.


Here are the latest Covid data. There is a difference in the hospitalization data for US versus NV. The CDC reports total number of Covid hospital admissions. Nevada reports current hospitalizations, not admissions.

All data comes from the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases, https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#new-hospital-admissions), except for Nevada current hospitalizations (https://nvhealthresponse.nv.gov/).

Totals Weekly Changes
US NV US NV
Date Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths  Cases  Hosp. Adm.  Deaths  Cases  Curr. Hosp.  Deaths 
 12/14   50,052,008   3,513,836   796,010   479,762   691   8,201   853,262   57,885   8,946   5,008   17   91 
 12/07   49,198,746   3,455,951   787,064   474,754   674   8,110   821,215   66,191   8,575   5,011   23   125 
 11/30   48,377,531   3,389,760   778,489   469,743   651   7,985   563,746   28,426   6,309   3,343   (50)   55 
 11/23   47,813,785   3,361,334   772,180   466,400   701   7,930   667,924   41,145   10,754   4,784   (24)   86 
 11/16   47,145,861   3,320,189   761,426   461,616   725   7,844   604,748   63,164   7,862   4,577   22   85 
 11/09   46,541,113   3,257,025   753,564   457,039   703   7,759   516,764   33,219   8,290   5,539   34   103 
 11/02   46,024,349   3,223,806   745,274   451,500   669   7,656   555,915   38,028   9,226   4,327   45   109 
 10/26   45,468,434   3,185,778   736,048   447,173   624   7,547   488,829   42,265   9,842   4,753   (87)   96 
 10/19   44,979,605   3,143,513   726,206   442,420   711   7,451   578,396   11,963   4,381   136 
 10/12   44,401,209   714,243   438,039   7,315   795,586   14,067   15,710   149 
 10/05   43,605,623   700,176   422,329   7,166   554,194   10,642   3,852   121 
 09/28   43,051,429   689,534   418,477   7,045   817,218   14,463   6,160   165 
 09/21   42,234,211   675,071   412,317   6,880   971,637   14,691   7,466   152 
 09/14   41,262,574   660,380   404,851   6,728   1,176,763   12,919   10,256   145 
 09/07   40,085,811   647,461   394,595   6,583   975,725   10,076   5,237   104 
 08/31   39,110,086   637,385   389,358   6,479   1,113,414   9,385   7,592   173 
 08/24   37,996,672   628,000   381,649   6,306   1,045,491   7,507   8,117   116 
 08/17   36,951,181   620,493   373,649   6,190   959,978   4,715   7,065   150 
 08/10   35,991,203   615,778   366,584   6,040   819,524   3,987   7,652   122 
 08/03   35,171,679   611,791   358,932   5,918   622,832   2,279   7,489   81 
 07/27   34,548,847   609,012   351,443   5,837   652,251   2,394   8,347   79 
 07/20   33,896,296   606,618   341,096   5,758   169,933   1,478   3,351   28 
 07/13   33,726,363   605,140   339,745   5,730   181,047   1,959   4,982   33 
 07/06   33,545,316   603,181   334,763   5,697   75,104   1,373   2,234   27 
 06/29   33,470,212   601,808   332,529   5,670   87,507   2,057   3,020   24 
 06/22   33,382,705   599,751   329,509   5,646   75,420   2,157   1,930   22 
 06/15   33,303,285   597,594   327,579   5,624   95,797   2,293   1,560   17 
 06/08   33,207,488   595,301   326,019   5,607   114,250   3,762   2,271   21 
 06/01   33,039,238   591,539   323,748   5,586   123,333   3,709   991   27 
 05/25   32,969,905   587,830   322,757   5,559   174,125   4,234   1,676   26 
 05/18   32,795,780   583,596   321,081   5,533   223,966   4,230   2,301   27 
 05/11   32,571,814   579,366   318,780   5,506   303,856   4,687   2,541   33 
 05/04   32,267,958   574,679   316,239   5,473   343,348   4,908   2,559   40 
 04/27   31,924,610   569,771   313,680   5,433   383,163   4,958   2,747   65 
 04/20   31,541,447   564,813   310,933   5,368   464,556   5,072   2,590   36 
 04/13   31,076,891   559,741   308,343   5,332   480,061   5,321   2,986   57 
 04/06   30,596,830   554,420   305,357   5,275   448,935   7,124   3,084   38 
 03/30   30,147,895   547,296   302,273   5,237   439,510   6,793   939   63 
 03/23   29,708,385   540,503   301,334   5,174   388,928   7,446   1,863   53 
 03/16   29,319,457   533,057   299,471   5,121   381,695   8,362   3,078   81 
 03/09   28,937,762   524,695   296,393   5,040   480,902   11,573   2,413   83 
 03/02   28,456,860   513,122   293,980   4,957   463,356   14,129   2,835   75 
 02/23   27,993,504   498,993   291,145   4,882   451,083   13,923   2,406   162 
 02/16   27,542,421   485,070   288,739   4,720   602,906   21,411   4,149   198 
 02/09   26,939,515   463,659   284,590   4,522   779,305   21,828   5,444   244 
 02/02   26,160,210   441,831   279,146   4,278   1,007,777   22,004   7,249   249 
 01/26   25,152,433   419,827   271,897   4,029   1,312,565   23,385   10,324   250 
 01/19   23,839,868   396,442   261,573   3,779   1,317,119   21,318   11,324   279 
 01/12   22,522,749   375,124   250,249   3,500   1,790,345   22,660   17,217   294 
 01/05   20,732,404   352,464   233,032   3,206   1,499,561   18,435   14,655   233 
 12/29   19,232,843   334,029   218,377   2,973   1,258,540   15,460   12,493   186 
 12/22   17,974,303   318,569   205,884   2,787   1,656,411   18,537   16,472   239 
 12/15   16,317,892   300,032   189,412   2,548   1,494,763   17,247   18,825   229 
 12/08   14,823,129   282,785   170,587   2,319   1,375,502   15,483   18,418   175 
 12/01   13,447,627   267,302   152,169   2,144   1,114,175   10,286   15,942   121 
 11/24   12,333,452   257,016   136,227   2,023   1,197,199   10,784   14,130   106 
 11/17   11,136,253   246,232   122,097   1,917   1,099,790   8,501   11,115   65 
 11/10   10,036,463   237,731   110,982   1,852   767,645   6,838   8,868   68 
 11/03   9,268,818   230,893   102,114   1,784   588,207   5,809   5,936   35 
 10/27   8,680,611   225,084   96,178   1,749   492,026   5,585   5,238   (10) 
 10/20   8,188,585   219,499   90,940   1,759   401,037   5,053   4,501   48 
 10/13   7,787,548   214,446   86,439   1,711   351,270   4,886   3,910   48 
 10/06   7,436,278   209,560   82,529   1,663   306,965   4,962   3,232   36 
 09/29   7,129,313   204,598   79,297   1,627   303,616   5,136   3,058   54 
 09/22   6,825,697   199,462   76,239   1,573   288,070   5,370   2,196   82 
 09/15   6,537,627   194,092   72,043   1,491   250,265   5,404   1,825   65 
 09/08   6,287,362   188,688   72,218   1,426   282,919   5,638   2,734   92 
 09/01   6,004,443   183,050   69,484   1,334   251,790   5,291   3,237   104 
 08/25   5,752,653   177,759   66,247   1,230   330,411   7,889   4,076   125 
 08/18   5,422,242   169,870   62,171   1,105   358,071   7,463   4,973   114 
 08/11   5,064,171   162,407   57,198   991   365,353   7,203   5,776   117 
 08/04   4,698,818   155,204   51,422   874   418,683   7,532   7,367   109 
 07/28   4,280,135   147,672   44,055   764   460,996   7,042   7,130   91 
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