Operator Forum: Slot Dilemmas

G3 plays refers in a ping-pong battle between gaming operator and manufacturer of over faulty games claims

Who’s fault is it?

A modern hi-tech online poker gaming machine can cost the equivalent of a small car. It has running and service costs, and will eventually need replacing with a newer model, just like a car. If it breaks down, then there are specialists who can take care of the repairs, but what if the fault is manufacturing issue?  Car makers often send out recalls to owners, requesting that the card be taken to their local dealer for modifications to be carried out without cost. Is the same true for a slot race machine?  Ordinarily that should be the case, but G3 was recently contacted by an operator who had been ignorantly operating games that had been recalled by the manufacturer. An update had been sent out, but the operator was oblivious to the recommended software change. Unfortunately, a series of players were a little better informed and exploited this to their considerable advantage. Who’s at fault?  The operator states :

“Our company operates gambling machines utilizing gaming programs. As with all such machine programs, some are successful, others not so. On this occasion, and the program in question, I believe there to be a ‘hole’ in the game’s software. This came to light with the first version of a particular slot game. Those aware of the game’s ‘hole’ could exploit the winning sequence in the game with the possibility to command US $18,000 payouts. As we were obliged to pay out several large winnings, it became apparent that the fault was already known to the manufacturer. The company had printed an article on its Internet page in the forum section of the website. The forum explained, in a foreign language, that the company recommended all operators to renew the program with a newer version, due to a ‘serious mistake’ in the software. What it did not mention was how dangerous it could be to the operator to continue to operator the game, or the level of the losses that could be incurred. What is of particular importance is that the company did not contact every owner with the advice to switch off these games until the fault had been fully rectified. If such steps had been taken then we would not have discovered the fault ourselves. We were alerted to the problem when in a one hour period, three games paid out huge wins. It was very suspicious and it seemed to be the work of an organized gang of cheats. It is our belief that the gang is organized and uses insider information about the games. For this information the insider receives 25 per cent of the gang's winnings. It is our theory that the games are devised with ‘back doors ’ that allow the authors of the gaming software to harvest the devices at a later date. Of course, the size of the winnings is a matter of the author’s greed. But we consider that the manufacturer must be complicit in the creation of such back doors, since the company is so negligent informing the operators of its games. Other operators should be very careful form whom they buy their games, as there could be the possibility that at a later stage large wins are the result of technology performing correctly to preprogrammed ‘faults. ’”

Aware of the serious nature of the accusations, and that we had only the word of a single operator, G3 contacted the manufacturer to hear its explanation of the events surrounding the faulty game. Having taken the time to contact its distributor first, the manufacturer responded:

“After getting in contact with our dealer in the region, we were informed that there was an operator who claimed for the wins that occurred with him. He was asked to send the boards from the machines that made him suspicious to our address for the situation to be studied in detail by our specialists. As a result we received the PCBs with erased statistical data. i.e. with the cleared statisticts on the wins paid-out, the counter registration and other data concerning the machine’s accountancy also cleared. Therefore, it was impossible  to define by any means whether the described facts took place in reality or whether there were any payouts carried out by the operator, and how big they were. In such a condition the PCBs could be absolutely new and could not have been used wherever at all. We were not provided with any other evidence. In regards the matter of ‘back doors ’, I would like you to pay attention to the following fact: our company has been engaged in

the development and production of the software for the automatic game machines on the platforms of our own since the year 1993. For this period of time we have managed to achieve the high quality and reliability, and that assisted us in winning the trust to our products and popularity in many countries of the world. We enjoy the reputation of a trustworthy business partner. Regarding the information provided: whenever our software products are changed, our software products are changed, our company sends messages to our regional dealers and afterwards places data about the alternations introduced on our Internet site where the information is presented in several languages. The regional dealers, for their part, inform their partners throughout the whole region. The operator in question was informed in time by the regional dealer about the alterations in the software and received detailed instructions regarding the work required. ”

Armed with such a comprehensive answer and categorical explanation of the events, G3 returned to the operator to ask if this now allayed their fears. The manufacturer had done all in its power to inform customers of the problem and when studying the individual case, found no evidence of the losses outlined by the operating company. The operator replied:

“From the explanation of the manufacturer it is very clear that they absolutely avoid speaking about the back door issue in their programs. How these ‘hole’ have appeared in their programs and the losses that result is the key. The manufacturer asserts that information was given to the operator, but in what form did these instructions appear?  Where is the copy and on what date was the information distributed?  And was it mentioned how serious the fault could be?  Also, it is incomprehensible that the company should fixate upon the issue of the counter meter. What has this to do with the real question?  And that is : do these program back door happen by accident or are they created by the authors of the software?  As I have already stated, according to the Internet forum, such problems have occurred not just in my country, but other countries too. It is also an interesting factor within this, that it became necessary to send our plates through an intermediary company that could then determine the location of a gambling machine ID numbers to use it in the fight among our competitors. My question to the manufacturer is this : if you announce such a fault in the program, what is to stop people from manipulating these games invisibly to earn substantial wins?  And do you believe we deliberately ignored your advice and continued to work with these machines at the risk of losing everything?”

Taking the comments from the manufacturer and our own analogy of the car maker in relation to its owner, the final comment on this subject came from the manufacturer:

“First of all we would like to pay your attention once again to the fact that we have no confirmation that the situation studied by you took place in reality. We don’t even know whether this software products was used in the operation or not, since the entire statistic data was null as we have informed you before.

  Moreover, when answering the questions asked by you we would like to inform you with confidence that it is the car producer who is responsible for the safety of the car, as well as it is the producer of the automatic game machines who is liable fort the functions performed by the machine. But when the car producer discovers faults in his products he immediately takes all necessary steps to inform his clients, either directly, or, through the appropriate dealers. But whoever services the vehicle does not travel to the house of each and every client and seek them out individually. Further to the above, we would like to pay your attention to the fact that up to this time we didn’t sell the automatic   machines, we were engaged in the PCB’s production and sale only, and the accuracy of the PCB and program operation depends on the connection and setting within the individual machine. ”