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AWP's and the UK regulatory system

Discussion in 'Online Casinos' started by DogBoy001, Jan 10, 2011.

    Jan 10, 2011
  1. DogBoy001

    DogBoy001 Senior Member webmeister

    Managing Director
    Great Southern Land
    I have split this off from another thread, as I thought it would be interesting to have a regulatory discussion and discussion on certain devices, versus the subject of the thread in which these points were raised.

    In particular I thought I'd comment further on the notion of the UK as a bastion of player fairness, as I find this a little strange.

    I find it strange because of the presence (the regulated presence, mind you), of AWP gambling devices. Devices which are illegal in many other mainstream jurisdictions around the world.

    To the untrained eye, these appear to bear all the hallmarks of a spinning reel, random slot device.
    To those that actually know what is going on, they are anything but.

    If the AWP is not played "to optimal strategy", or is in a period where RTP has exceeded "set RTP" (due to successive jackpots occurring in a dynamic, non-random set of outcomes to pull RTP up from the dolldrums), then the player has effectively no real chance to win, unless they have a sufficient bankroll to put into the device to draw RTP down to appropriate trigger levels.
    In times where the AWP is within a very limited expected range the RTP is poor to say the least, and given volatility is practically entirely on the downside, the player will lose.
    The only time a player is really going to walk away ahead is to find or push the game into "winning mode".

    In short, "knowledgeable" players will be able to prey on the casual or "unskilled" player on these devices, which by and large do not show game rules in any clear fashion, do not display optimal strategy, and do not show the indicated RTP is derived on a non-random basis.

    A knowledgeable player can quickly determine whether the device is in a paying mode, or a non-paying mode, and leave or stay accordingly.
    A knowledgeable player will play to optimal strategy to force RTP down to the point where arbitrary, non-random large prize triggers will occur, often in succession.
    In short, a knowledgeable player will gain higher RTP at the expense of the unskilled player, which is why these devices are illegal in many regulated regimes.

    On-line this seems to be reflective of the AWP's that exist, which from the look of the winning screenshots that show the same BIG winners on these devices over and over again, appear to use "pooled RTP".

    To whit: all players are contributing to the same AWP pool, and only the knowledgeable players, or very lucky unskilled players, will win (unskilled if they access it at the right time, or knowledgeable players who access it, determine state of the device, and then stay or leave accordingly, and if staying know just how far to "push" the device)

    These are designed to look like slot, but do not show any rules that can be accessed in-game in the same manner as the slots.
    They are designed to trap the unwary.

    So my questions are:
    1) Looking at the UK B&M scene, how can a regulatory regime allow devices that look like slots, play like slots (to a great extent), but are nothing like slots, be considered a regime to emulate?
    2) Is it fair to allow knowledgeable players to effectively prey off the unwary contributors to their eventual success?
    3) Is a "pooled RTP" scenario something that exists in system providers that use AWP games on-line?
    4) If the answer to (3) is yes, is a "pooled RTP" used in any other games on-line?
    5) If the answer to (3) is no, and AWP's aren't random, how do these same big winners on AWP devices do it?
    6) If the devices are meant to be playable by all players (on-line and B&M), where the heck are the rules? (in an easy-to-find, in-game way, as per slots)

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2011
  2. Jan 10, 2011
  3. Rhyzz

    Rhyzz Experienced Member

    Online Gaming
    United Kingdom
    1) Not all operators or game providers base their games on pooled RTP, some work on an individual basis.

    2) Online software is a totally different ball game to those you find in a B&M Casino. The games often look the same but the mechanics are very different. One good example is Gold Rally from Playtech.

    3) I don't think anyone is able to predict when an online machine is going to pay out. Perhaps back in the days of old school bandits (VWM is your man for these) you could, but not on a video slot and especially not online. The same people seem to win because they're the ones who play the most.

    I think what you're referring to in general is a Fixed Odds machine and not an RNG slot? You can in theorey predict when a fixed odds machine will pay if you knew the turnover and payout, but I couldn't even begin to do the maths on it.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Jan 10, 2011
  5. gerilege

    gerilege Meister Member PABnorogue PABrogue

    In my country AWPs (mostly very old ones like Bonus Dice, etc) are the most common. We have them in pubs, etc. Only in some casinos one might find a video slot, but also the casinos have a lot of these AWPs. The devices are categorized, 10% of the slots fall into category 1 (maximum win is greater than 25x total bet per spin), these should have a minimum RTP of 80%, the remaining 90% of the machines fall into category 2 (max 25xbet/spin) and do not have a minimum RTP, they can be set by the operator as they wish. In practice they set the RTP to the lowest level which maximize their practical profit at a given location. If enough people play them regularly at 40%, they will leave it at 40%, if more people play at 60%, then 60%, etc.
    For a casual player (like me, who probably played category2 AWPs 30-40 times at different locations in my adult lifetime) it is OK, I just put in the equivalent of ~5-10USD, play at ~0,1-0,25USD/spin, most of the time I lose, sometimes I win 25-50 USD, then I quit. For the regular player (gambling problem, etc), well we do not have that much sharks around the country, so it doesn't matter also.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Jan 10, 2011
  7. DiamondGeezer

    DiamondGeezer Dormant account PABnononaccred2 PABnoaccred PABaccred

    Antiques Dealer
    NOT Pennsylvania!!!
    I will leave the technical answer to VWM but you raise many good points DogBoy001.

    The non technical answer is that this system evolved out of the long standing tradition of amusement arcades at seaside towns and on piers. I'm not saying this is right but in the UK there is a cultural acceptance that machines at the seaside and in pubs are for amusement only and we should EXPECT to lose. It's a very 'British' thing. We go off to Brighton or wherever and play the fruities. We expect to lose, our wishes are fulfilled and we come home happy.

    The regulation is just an extension of this. Players will lose but they must lose within the rules. Losing is good for the working man as it will deter him from the evils of gambling. The regulators are doing us all a favour. It's a very British solution.

    If you look at another old gambling pastime namely horse racing then it is just the same. They have this system called Starting Price (SP) which is a regulated way of calculating returns for each horse in the race. But the joke is it is all so crooked the hold or vig is about 20% often and far higher in some races. Millions of people bet SP every day not understanding what it is or how it is calculated. And with a hold of that size it is designed so the casual punter CAN'T win and so won't get hooked on gambling. But as it's all regulated by the Jockey Club then that's OK!

    In summary there is a strong cultural belief in the UK that you can't win at gambling and it is a belief our regulators are happy to reinforce.
    4 people like this.
  8. Jan 10, 2011
  9. vinylweatherman

    vinylweatherman You type well loads CAG MM

    STILL At Leisure
    United Kingdom

    1) Until the recent updated gambling laws were passed, the ONLY thing that was regulated about AWP devices was the stake and jackpot amounts. The manufacturers and operators ran rings around the regulators, and the clever players ran rings around the OPERATORS:D

    There was a TRADE BODY that "regulated" these "Fruities", and set "voluntary standards" that were expected from members. The "Fruitie in the chip shop" was often the most crooked of the lot!

    It was only when the regulators accepted that these were GAMBLING devices, rather than "amusement" devices, that the first LAWS were passed to formally ban CHILDREN from playing them.

    The more recent act redefined the categories, and there is still a "children's category" that you will see at the seaside, and at leisure centres, but the other categories are strictly 18+, and the entrance MUST be policed to prevent under age players from even ENTERING the area.

    The industry didn't like the rules, and managed to get concessions. One is that "remote policing" via CCTV is permitted - seen at motorway services.

    Another change introduced rules whereby it must be made clear what the nature of the game is, random, or compensated (AWP). The nominal RTP must also be displayed to the player. In the top category, £1 stake and £500 max payout, this is done by the software, and is visible below the reels.

    Regulations once WORSE than many other jurisdictions became BETTER than at most jurisdictions overnight.

    2) the very nature of AWP devices was unfair, the operators got their comeuppance once the devices became too clever, and bugs crept into the ever more complex code. Most novice players do not really understand the nature of the game, and this is one reason why operators were forced to make this clearer. Operators make most of their money from the more skilled players, so the product is designed to outwit these players, and now the programming has changed to give the casual player MORE of a chance than they had before, in the knowledge that the "skilled" player will STILL play just as much, and make the money for the operator.

    3) The exact mechanism is a trade secret, but one thing is for sure, the games are NOT purely random, although there ARE some random elements in them.

    With enough play, it is possible to spot the "tells" the machine is giving out, and make a reasonable prediction as to what will happen if play continues.

    With many of my REALLY big wins, I can see it coming a mile off;)

    Take my old favourite Treasure Ireland.

    One of the "tells" is the reels giving the sequence "3OK Parrots" followed by "3OK Ships". This means that very shortly the feature game will go "mega", and spit out one of those MONSTER payouts.

    It is also possible to spot when the game "dies" on you. This is when the feature game suddenly kills you off almost straight away, and several times on the trot.

    There are some more subtle signs too, and like the land based AWP games, I believe the online versions are regularly "chipped" to change the "tells" that regular player have learned.

    The "parrots then ships" tell seems to have gone from Treasure Ireland of late, it now does something different;)

    The "Hippo" is even sneakier, as some "fake tells" have been added, and can make the game appear to be in a state it is not. This is similar to how land AWP games have been altered to give the casual player a better chance.

    Although players seem to have their own individual instance of the AWP game, there also appears to be a further method whereby chunks of RTP are shifted between players. This means they CAN suddenly give a big payout from "nowhere" (as in no "tells" - you just don't see it coming). Conversely, they can SUCK a load of RTP from a player, who will NOT get the overall 95% in that particular cycle, because it has been shifted to another player.

    4) This is one of the big "conspiracy theories". The existence of online AWP games has shown that online games are NOT necessarily random, and where patterns seem to appear in other games, players think it is just "an AWP in disguise".

    It is just as "rogue" to NOT inform players that AWP games are not random as it is to have variable RTP settings. Microgaming themselves are NOT compliant with UK rules in this respect. NOWHERE does Microgaming reveal the nature of these games, and it is left to players to understand what "AWP" next to the game in the menu actually means.

    5) .... because the games are NOT random, simples;)

    6) In MGS, they are in the "help" pages. Additionally, click on a feature square, and the rules for that square are revealed.

    Unfortunately, just as the fact that "space"= max bet, and "enter" = spin, these facts are not revealed all that clearly.

    Knowing that these games are not random, and PROVING it, are completely different matters. The ONLY evidence is "the same winners always post the big payouts", but this SAME argument has been used to "prove" that the RTG random jackpots are NOT random, because of "the same players seem to keep winning them".

    In the case of RTG, this is dismissed as NOT being anywhere NEAR proof that the jackpots are not completely random, so you CANNOT argue any differently when it comes to AWP games and "same players seem to always win"

    I don't have a problem with this at all - long live online AWPs:D
    3 people like this.
  10. Jan 11, 2011
  11. DogBoy001

    DogBoy001 Senior Member webmeister

    Managing Director
    Great Southern Land
    It's certainly of interest as to whether there is this distinction between the operation of AWP's in B&M versus on-line.

    This is true of random slots, but AWP's...not so sure.

    I'd actually say that AWP's on-line seem to play very similarly to B&M.
    There are "tells", ones that an experienced player will pick up on more than a novice or casual player.

    The low max win nature of B&M AWP's is also interesting.
    As a player I'd expect to be able to fairly regularly hit the top prize on a game that only offers a very limited top prize (such as 25x bet).

    Interesting as to whether the low max is an incentive to go for it (perceiving it as easy to hit) versus a disincentive (low prize, so no point chasing it).

    Do machines deployed under the new UK gaming regulations show what is meant by "compensated" RTP though?
    i.e.: Does a punter know what this term actually means?

    AWP's effectively function in peaks and troughs, with very sharp peaks due to sequential jackpots, and very long troughs.
    A player that is caught in one of these troughs is effectively voiding the chance of being awarded a high-paying prize, and therefore their RTP is considerably lower than the advertised RTP.

    Simply displaying a nominal RTP with the notation that this is a "compensated RTP product" doesn't insure fair RTP for player A versus player B.

    Yep, like triggering of the bonus feature followed by instant kill, or the instant kill double ups (which to the unskilled player look like a sure thing "can you get higher than a 2 on a 1 to 12", but promptly comes up with a "1").
    The double ups in particular are designed to be deceptive, and only the knowledgeable player is aware of this.

    On-line AWP games such as this seem to be highly reflective of the B&M AWP's.

    This is in line with the concept of pooled RTP, a scenario that favours the knowledgeable over the novice, as the pro will stay or leave based on the "feel" for the current state of the game, versus the standard slots player, who will play because they think they have a chance.

    Unlike a random game, the AWP may leave them, however, with almost no chance to win, due to the state of the AWP cycle.

    I find it interesting that a discussion on B&M and on-line AWP's can be turned to "are RTG jackpots random"? (which they are).

    Unlike AWP's, the RTG jackpot system has a proportional chance to award a jackpot based on the bet size. i.e.: players that are betting more have a proportionately larger chance to win.
    And looking at the multiple jackpot winner threads, a lot of these players are betting very high amounts for long periods, hence they have a proportionately higher chance of winning than someone betting lower amounts for long periods (though small bets still do win, they just have a proportionately lower chance of such).

    AWP's, by comparison, are designed to suck in the slots player, to the benefit of both the casino operator and the skilled player.

    The casino operator simply cannot lose with an AWP system.
    RTP will dynamically be altered to disallow wins if RTP is exceeding certain threshholds, until it falls to the point where it can "afford more".

    And that's one of the defining distinctions between an AWP system and a random one.

    Looking at the winner's threads I bet you don't!

    A cunning plan!

  12. Jan 11, 2011
  13. 3mptyseat

    3mptyseat Quit Gambling PABnonaccred

    Pressing Buttons
    California de Norte
    What sites online currently use the awp system?
  14. Jan 11, 2011
  15. DiamondGeezer

    DiamondGeezer Dormant account PABnononaccred2 PABnoaccred PABaccred

    Antiques Dealer
    NOT Pennsylvania!!!
    Just MG AFAIK.
  16. Jan 11, 2011
  17. vinylweatherman

    vinylweatherman You type well loads CAG MM

    STILL At Leisure
    United Kingdom
    The B & M AWP games always had low jackpots compared to the stake, however the skilled player knew that many games had a "streak pot", where part of the RTP was saved up, and released as a "winning streak" when the pot had reached a certain level.

    "forcing" a machine of this type "force fed" the streak pot in an attempt to cause it to "overflow", and release all the RTP stored within it. The aim was to not just get back the RTP used in "forcing", but the RTP already within it saved from other players. In some cases, the programming was pretty basic, and telling whether a "force" was worth the bother took just ONE feature round. It was also possible to partly "kill" a few games in order to DELAY the streak - a tactic for when other skilled players were likely to be looking for the "tells", possibly over your shouder:)

    The manufacturer "Red" produced some nice games, but ones that hid their "tells" rather well. They DID streak, but could not be "forced" at all easily, nor reliably.

    Most skilled players were NOT playing for the single jackpot, it was the STREAKPOT they were after. Many would even REFUSE the single jackpot when offered, because taking it would suck RTP from the base game, and this would have to be replaced before further progress could be made on forcing out the streak.

    Microgaming have given us by far the most realistic online AWP games I have ever seen, and are something I have longed for since I first started online at the end of 2003.

    Just as with the B & M versions, there are only SOME Microgaming AWPs that I play. I have tried most of them, but stick to ones where there are definite "tells".

    Unlike B & M, I am "playing blind". I CANNOT see RTP falling due to other players having a below par session, and unlike B & M, I do not have any further "intelligence" until I play again, and see if the game seems to have warmed up.

    I can only tell when a chunk of pent up RTP has been dumped into my instance of the game after it has happened, as it usually expresses itself in the following few spins (the parrots followed by ships sequence in Treasure Ireland - indicative of an injection of pooled RTP for the taking).

    I have not seen evidence of RTP LEAVING an individual instance, and even when you log off, and come back DAYS later, you always get YOUR instance of the game, and it is ALWAYS as you left it, with LOCAL RTP unchanged. The ONLY benefit of leaving, and coming back later, is that more "pooled RTP" may have become available from others, and may end up in MY instance of the game.

    Where RTP does leave, it happens during play, where your entire stake seems to vanish into the pool, and even after £1000 further fed into the game, there seems NO further increase in LOCAL RTP.

    If players KNEW how this all worked, or had some way of watching other players, and whether they were net contributors to the RTP pool, they could determine when the best time to play was.

    In the B & M situation, this is possible. Have a beer and sit with the machine in view, or on the motorway, get a coffee & newspaper and choose a seat with a good view into the gaming area, to watch which machines receive further contributions, and might be worth a further visit.

    There were quite a few players who virtually LIVED on the motorways, playing the AWP games for profit. I joined in during my spare time, and had a significant advantage over most of the others - I HAD A CAR:D

    There was one "tell" that you didn't even have to enter the services to see - a pile of BICYCLES by the door:D (meant the "teenagers" were there, and had probably emptied most of the stored RTP from the games).

    There were also "certain faces", which if seen, were an indication that it was not worth bothering with the AWPs - one of these "certain faces" was MINE:p
  18. Jan 12, 2011
  19. Rusty

    Rusty Banned User - repetitive flaming

    Manchester UK
    Interesting thread Dogboy and some good points.:thumbsup:

    Obviously I agree with your premise that AWP games are essentially unfair but
    as has been pointed out this unfairness is very conspicuous and anyone here in the UK who has played an AWP slot knows exactly what the deal is up front.

    Skip the following tongue in cheek analogy if you are about to eat. ;)

    You slap a price tag on a turd £9.99 and as long as you don't try to pretend it is chocolate cake or disguise the odour and advertise it as a turd then no problem - freedom of choice if someone wants to buy it.

    I think this is essentially the difference between the British gambling psyche and that in the US.
    We would call a turd a turd and ensure people are educated as to the nature of turds and regulate so that turds must be clearly defined and labelled then leave up to the individual to whether they want to enter into the turd buying market whereas the US would probably legislate for a ban on turds and then consider how they could enforce constipation upon the masses.

    On a serious note though the essence of your argument gives a separation between AWP games and slot games which personally I do not believe exists or at least I believe the distinction is misleading.
    In fact I believe the introduction of AWP games by MGS was a premeditated move to cut off criticism of weighted software and make an obvious distinction between AWP slots and their other games.

    Why introduce AWP games at all unless you want to make that distinction?
    Why is it necessary to make such a distinction after all these years?
    if AWP's are a good idea why did all software companies go out of there way to avoid having their games labelled as such before the shit hit the fan?

    Basically they are trying to say, "Our slots are completely random and fair because look here is how slots play that are not"

    If anyone has played slots AWP, online, B&M for any length of time they have come to know what to expect.
    What surprises me with MGS is just how blatant the weighting is in all their new slots and how the "near miss" has started sneaking back into the software.
    I can give examples if needs be.

    Right, the point I am making is, AWP slots and online slots are different beasts but one is what it is while the other pretends to be something it is not.

    I know you would argue that but my question would be can you point me to any regulatory body that licences RTG casinos which makes makes a clear distinction of the game mechanics between AWP slots and RTG's real series slots through the regulations it enforces?

    This is the crux of the matter because no matter how deep I dig and how often I ask I have never found regulations that specifically ban weighting.
    In fact I am not even sure most regulatory bodies have any idea of how this may be applied to alter RTP of online slots.
    I mean the last answer I got was an incredibly patronising and ignorant answer that, and I paraphrase. "Weighting can not exist in online slots because they don't have actual reels"

    The sad truth is that is a typical attitude and level of knowledge displayed by most regulatory regimes so I would say the chances of us getting the truly fair games, that by inference you are suggesting non AWP games are, is slim to none existent for the foreseeable future.

    I have often mapped out what a truly fair slot would look like and the regulations it would need to adhere to.
    It is simple but while the regulations do not exist to encourage its development because there is too much money to be made by continuing with the current charade then it will never happen.
  20. Jan 12, 2011
  21. DiamondGeezer

    DiamondGeezer Dormant account PABnononaccred2 PABnoaccred PABaccred

    Antiques Dealer
    NOT Pennsylvania!!!
    Rusty I was in a light hearted way talking above about the differing psycological approaches to slots gambling in the UK and US. I mean we have Blackpool and they have Vegas need I say more?

    It may be true to say in general the British expect to lose on their slots gambling and only see them as entertainment but I must qualify this.

    I know a guy quite well who lost so much money on snooker club £100 and £500 JP machines he almost lost his house and ended up getting bailed out by his employer. I don't know exactly what he was playing but I doubt he knew the difference between random and AWP games. Certainly at the time he had no idea he couldn't win. It may be true for the UK as a generalisation that we have an AWP view of slots but I don't think it holds true for the individual.

    I think that if you are a gambler and you get behind you don't really think AWP/slot but more like how the hell can I get my money back I must be due a win soon. Rusty clearly your knowledge is way above the understanding of the typical player.

    It's about time us UK players acknowledged the total sickdom of AWP's and campaigned for their abolition. I believe the reason for their introduction was to limit the liability of pubs and chip shops etc and prizes were modest. Like when I started playing many years ago the JP of my pub fruitie (the brilliant pacman) was £2. I remember my hands used to shake when I got a mystery feature or a big nudge gamble.

    Back then you couldn't lose more than about £3 playing the thing but only a few years later machines were up to £10 JP's and they had these sick repeater features where you could repeat £10 three or four times. I retired from fruities when the JP's were like £3 but I imagine the sums later got pretty mindboggling.

    In summary AWP's are an anomoly from a different age. It's especially sick they are allowed online and casual players are being taken for fools playing a game they cannot win. The whole thing is a very 'noose' concept. This is a different age to a trip to Bognor and a few spins on the fruitie.

    The whole idea of AWP's online is scary. It can only reduce confidence in the randomness of MG slots. It's just so easy to go from thinking 'if they can make AWP's so cleverly what's to stop them coding regular slots to be a little non random in certain situations like high coin sizes?'
  22. Jan 12, 2011
  23. DogBoy001

    DogBoy001 Senior Member webmeister

    Managing Director
    Great Southern Land
    The main distinction would be that pooling RTP on an AWP system, if operating in the same manner as B&M Uk devices, accomplishes the same thing for an on-line operator as it does a B&M one, to whit:
    By pooling RTP and having top prizes never occur except when RTP has dipped to a trigger point, the operator cannot lose.

    This is distinct from a random slot, where the operator could be placed into an overall loss.

    That's the crux of the argument IMO, whether or not the on-line AWP's function as per a B&M AWP.

    Weighting is legal in most U.S. jurisdictions, but not in Australia:

    NSW standards (which reflect the Australian standards):

    You must register/login in order to see the link.

    3.9.58, page 50

    This effectively prohibits weighted outcomes from a fixed reel strip order.

    As an interesting side note, the games that are deployed via RTG are the same games deployed via Voyager Gaming in B&M Australian pubs, clubs and casinos (in Queensland as of last year, in NSW as of March and Victoria later this year)

    The implementation by both RTG and Voyager has been largely identical (and in no small part due to our input, which is based on our experience in the B&M Australian market and regulatory system), except for specific jurisdictional requirements such as the display of Information icons, re-wording of rules to meet standards, jurisdictional prize capping (with resultant prize changes where required) and so forth.

    As far as the essential mechanics of the games, they are the same (except that the B&M use far lower RTP variants, and have 6 options)

    Also, at least half of dozen of the games, including Cleopatra's Gold, Goldbeard, Aztec's Treasure, Sunken Treasure and Honey to the Bee, have been deployed by Voyager in the UK since 2007, at Quicksilver/Talarius centres.
    Some have a particular Triple Chance Bonus feature addition, but many are simply the same games with the same features, modified to meet UK machine class requirements.

    AWP's compared to random slots compared to weighted reel-slots are 3 very different animals IMO.

    I'll stick to designing random games, as I fail to see any advantages to a weighted reel strip outcome over a random outcome. Weighted-outcome-driven near misses, as per U.S. games (3 reelers in the main) are purely designed to piss players off...again IMO.

    1 person likes this.

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