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SLOTS Q&A:  Readers’ Strategies 3


The information in this article provides a description of the TITO (Ticket In, Ticket Out) system along with
security advice and warnings. This should be required reading for casino players as TITO is destined to become the only system used in land-based casinos. 

What it is: When cashed out, slot machines dispense tickets rather than coins.  The tickets may be used in other slot machines in the same casino or taken to the casino change booth to be redeemed for cash.

How it works: The dispenser prints a ticket showing the ticket value and other text information, but, most importantly, a bar coded number.
We assume that the system uses the same basic principles as "print at home" movie tickets.  If so, the bar coded number acts as a record locator in the central system.  The amount of the payout is NOT coded into the bar coded number. 
For redemption, a scanner reads the bar code and retrieves the value of the payout from the central database.
Then, the computer makes a record in that database that the ticket has been paid.

Disadvantages for the player: The excitement of coins dropping into the tray is lost.  (While they print the ticket, the machines do play a sound to simulate the falling coins.) Lost money on uncashed or damaged tickets: The tickets must be cashed within a certain time, usually 30 or 60 days, or they become worthless.  Also, the tickets are often printed on thermal paper and may be destroyed by heat.
Even body heat may cause the tickets to fade when the tickets are stored in a wallet.
You may have observed some receipts fade when stored in a wallet. Risk of high tech theft (see below.)

Advantages for the player: No more carrying heavy buckets of coins to the change booth to exchange for paper money. No waiting for redemption machines to count the coins. Eliminates waiting for casino employees to clear coin jams, or to refill machines that have run out of coins.
Casinos may have shared their reduction in overhead costs with players, by ‘loosening’ their machines to attract more players and increase the bottom line.

Advantages for the casino: Eliminates paying an army of employees clearing coin jams and refilling machines, as well as casino security employees who must keep a close eye on those employees. The result is reduced overhead costs.
Cashing in the tickets is simpler and faster than cashing in coins, so less people working the change booths.
Again, reduced overhead costs. 
Players make fewer trips to the change booth when they take the tickets from machine to machine, instead of exchanging the coins for bills before moving to another machine. Extra revenue from unredeemed tickets.

Security: It is very important that players have a basic understanding of the security built into the system, in order to protect themselves from high tech thieves.  Many of us have had unauthorized charges placed on our credit card accounts by high tech crooks, so I believe that high tech compromising of the system is a genuine concern. The security of the system lies in the bar coded numbers.
Anyone who has watched tickets being redeemed knows that the cashier holds up the ticket to a bar code reader and doesn't appear to check the ticket much more thoroughly.
When the ticket is redeemed by a slot machine, the machine may do nothing more than read the bar code. 
If a high tech thief were to clone a payout ticket with the same bar coded number as on your ticket, he or she might be able to cash that ticket before you had cashed yours.
If the cloned ticket were used in a machine, the thief could play a little while then cash out, having the funds transfer to a new casino printed ticket, which would be cashed at the booth.
When, and not until, you attempt to cash your ticket, the computer system will flag it as a duplicate. 
The casino might or might not redeem your ticket.  Most likely, they will cash your ticket if they believe you are honest and have been a victim.
They and the suppliers of the system want to foster trust in the new system, and not lose players to casinos that have the coin handling equipment.
Whether or not the casino eventually redeems your ticket, you would be suspected of having made a copy of your ticket and cashed it first, then are attempting to cash the genuine ticket.  The casino's security
force will probably thoroughly question you and review surveillance videotapes before it does redeem your ticket.  This could be a serious problem if you needed to catch a plane or get to a show.

Security Advice for the Player: Guard your ticket the way you guard your credit card, to prevent
thieves from reading the numbers. Always cash or reuse your ticket(s) promptly, especially the tickets for larger sums of money. At the latest, cash your tickets before leaving the casino floor.
If there is a problem redeeming the ticket, the player has a much better chance of resolving the problem in his favor if the ticket was printed shortly before the attempt to redeem it.
Before pressing the cash out button on a machine, look for the place where the ticket will be dispensed. Be sure the ticket dispenser is not blocked by a purse, arm, etc. Many machines needed to be retrofit with ticket dispensers, and the dispensers are sometimes on the shelf part of the machine because that was the only place available.
Do not take the tickets to other casinos, whether or not they use the same slot club card. The tickets will probably be rejected.

There is a debate among slots players about the value of the TITO system. Currently the yes-no crowd is split at 50-50 and the debate continues…

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