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Antepost: Fruit Machines – A Mugs Game?

by Roy Brindley |  Published: Oct 01, 2009


I’m on record as saying that a lot of the angles gamblers often look for verge on the illegal. Sadly few people really get the point when it comes to such statements and they immediately think of bent races or attempts to place bets after the off — when the runners are crossing the winners line preferably!

Things are not always so cut and dried. Back in 1989 I came across a fella who had discovered a fault with a certain model of fruit machine which meant if he clicked a set sequence of buttons he would not only win the jackpot, he would be offered the hold/repeat function for the next five spins.

Fruit Machines

Back in those days the jackpot was probably £8 but once he landed it, it would repeat and repeat meaning he would clear £48. Notably he could achieve that figure after an initial investment of less than £5.

Now would you believe this lad was arrested, questioned, and charged with fraud for his exploits? Ultimately the case was dropped through lack of evidence. He protested he was pressing what he thought were the right buttons given the situation and got repeatedly lucky.

Additionally and amusingly, the sums involved were relatively small as, despite him scouting out every such machine in pubs throughout London, my mate liked a drink and, with cash in his pocket and the sweet shop there before him, he preferred to go on the rip rather than execute a battle plan to make a killing.

Some would say it was outrageous for authorities to attempt to charge him with fraud as only a sheep shearer could fleece you better than a fruit machine.

Amazingly faulty fruit machines are reportedly as common today as they have always been. Spend an afternoon surfing the net and you will find plenty of subscription services which offer to send you a regularly updated list of the latest machines which have flaws in them; flaws which can be exploited for financial gain.

Fruit machines found in the UK are poles apart from those which line floor space of every Vegas casino. It’s mind blowing to watch people sat at the slots in America mindlessly pressing the button which spins the reels. That start button is the only interaction players have with the machine in front of them.
Conversely the interaction between a punter and a fruit machine in the UK is staggering. Domestic machines have a host of features: nudges, super-nudges, gold runs, dash-for-cash, etcetera — meaning the player is fooled into believing they are in control and have a realistic chance of winning at all times.

Maybe it is because these complicated machines can be, and have proven to be, anything other than infallible, whereas you simply know those mindless “press a button and hope” attempts in Nevada (I make this statement safe in the knowledge that I would only play a machine for fun) have been put under a microscope by the Gaming Commission. Simple is safe is the motto. Or, possibly, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Remarkably, when all is said and done, players have found a way to make slot, or fruit machines (depending on where you reside), a viable legal money-making proposition.

Most notably one individual in Australia once employed and bankrolled a gang of people to play every single machine that was linked to a progressive jackpot with instructions to “play until the jackpot drops”.

His reasoning? The seven figure jackpot stood at a sum which way outweighed the probability of it arriving and any bet which offers a return greater than the odds of probability is a good old fashioned no brainer. In this instance the Bells, 7’s, or Bars all lined up in succession relatively quickly and a huge coup was landed. Spade Suit