Vice Squad
Sunday, June 13, 2004
How Are Vegas Slot Machines Regulated?

Today's New York Times has the latest contribution to its series of editorials ("Making Votes Count") on the process of collecting and counting votes. "Gambling on Voting" draws a comparison between how slot machines are regulated in Nevada, and how those newfangled electronic voting machines are regulated across the good ol' USA. The Times makes the important point that the voting machines are "cheap and untrustworthy" in comparison with the slots. But in doing so, to the delight of vice policy hounds, we learn quite a bit about the regulation of slot machines. I particularly enjoyed point 3:
There are meticulous, constantly updated standards for gambling machines. When we arrived at the Gaming Control Board lab, a man was firing a stun gun at a slot machine. The machine must work when subjected to a 20,000-volt shock, one of an array of rules intended to cover anything that can possibly go wrong. Nevada adopted new standards in May 2003, but to keep pace with fast-changing technology, it is adding new ones this month.
It's comforting to know that if lightning strikes the casino and all the people are temporarily put out of commission, the slots will still work correctly, no?

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