Would 'Guaranteed Play' appeal online?


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

Would you like the assurance of a guaranteed minimum number of hands or "spins" for your deposit?

Land casino slot developers have apparently encountered some resistance to a new concept that on the face of it might appeal to slot players - a guaranteed minimum number of hands or "spins" for each deposit.

In an interesting article on the concept this week, the Las Vegas Sun reported that gamblers are apparently wary of the new feature, initially hailed as a revolution in the casino industry so promising as to seduce gamblers who normally would walk right by slot machines.

The Sun explains that the idea is to furnish players with a minimum number of hands or "spins" for their money. The lure for the gambler is that the guaranteed number of spins might be more than he would have had by playing the traditional way until his money ran out.

But not all gamblers liked the idea, introduced on a limited basis at Station Casinos in the Las Vegas area this year. 'Guaranteed Play' claims to offer video poker players the same odds as many regular, pay-per-hand games. But players can expect to often get more hands for their money, and thus more time, on a Guaranteed Play machine.

A poker machine, for example, promises quarter players 75 hands for $20 and dollar players 200 hands for $40.

Many players who prefer to while away time at the machines have gravitated toward "penny" slots, which extend gambling time by allowing wagers in smaller increments. Guaranteed Play is a more radical step in that direction - drawing out play by promising a minimum number of spins for the initial bet.

The LV Sun spoke to several players to gauge reaction to the idea, and one said he quickly soured on Guaranteed Play because it requires gamblers to play through their hands before cashing out any positive balances. Also discouraging for gamblers: The credit meter starts with a zero balance and heads into negative numbers as losses grow, as opposed to credit meters on traditional slots, which begin with the positive balance of the gambler's deposit and remain in positive territory until, at worst, zero credits remain.

Either way, the same amount of money would have been lost, but one appears more painful to watch than the other.

The Station group has been gathering feedback on the machines from gamblers in focus groups and on the floor in a patient break-in for an industry where conventional slots normally have to prove their value within months or risk being pulled from the casino.

Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor newsletter, says the guarantee feature isn't for math experts who seek the highest possible return for each hand. But "there's a million positives" for casual players who want more gambling time for their money, he said.

"The public is afraid of it" but was also apprehensive of ticket machines before those overtook coin-operated slots after a few years, Curtis said.

Some players have risen above their initial scepticism of Guaranteed Play and aren't troubled by the credit meter because they know they are probably going to lose their bet anyway, Jay Fennel, director of corporate slot operations at Station Casinos told The Sun.

"Players come here knowing they're going to spend that $20 and that's in their wallet," Fennel said. "They want more time at the machine."

Station executives are bullish as they discuss future applications for the technology. Eventually, they say, the concept will spread to spinning reel slots and even table games as a way to package gambling offerings like any other amenity, such as a meal, a show or a hotel room.

"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Fennel said. "Gamblers are finicky, superstitious and very resistant to change. We are just trying to get people to try it."


Paleo Meister (means really, really old)
May 29, 2004
Where this would work for me is if extra spins were awarded at the end of a bankroll if a really bad streak had occured. It would require a complex algorithm I'm sure, but as an example, say I played $225 on Thunderstruck at $4.50 a spin (50 x $4.50). Typically I would expect to get 80-90 spins from that sort of money on Tstruck on a typical day. If it was less than 60, I'd be a bit miffed, although obviously there is variance to take into account which varies from slot to slot. But if I were to get 10 free spins were it to be less than 60 at the end of the play, that would work.


You type well loads
Oct 14, 2004
United Kingdom
My first thought is that you don't get something extra for nothing, and the payment for this new feature might be a reduction in the odds during normal play. The other problem is that a player has to commit their bankroll to a single machine, and some may want to move to a different machine if they are having a bad run.
A negative credit meter might have some players thinking they will end up owing money to the casino, and this may be putting them off. Redesigning how the meters work should eliminate this fear without changing the underlying concept.

I have seen similar ideas online. Lasseters have a satisfaction guaranteed bonus offer for regular players, (if they have not removed it), that measn that if players lose everything within the first hour, they get their bonus credited again for another chance (with a new WR of course).
A few MG casinos have tried not offering a sign up bonus, but a money back guarantee for a deposit of 50. If you lose it all, they will give it back to you in the form of a refund to your deposit mechanism. Sadly, it doesn't always work. I tried one, lost my 50 and the system said I didn't qualify even though I had zero balance.

One possible way to implemement this online is to say that players can deposit without an SUB, but should they lose they get a a refund as a bonus, and this continues until they are able to cash out, say, half their deposit, or until a certain amount of time has passed, during which they can be topped up as often as they like. In this way, players will be guaranteed a period of play, and at least to be able to cash out half their deposit at the end. The casino will make half the players deposit as profit, except for those that win and cash out, which will automatically end the guarantee.

There would need to be game restrictions, probably slots only, otherwise players could repeatedly double up on Blackjack or Roulette and pretty much guarantee winning twice in a row or more and the casino would always lose. Bet limits might also have to be reduced as in the free play promotions.


Ueber Meister
Dec 1, 2005
The Wizard has analyzed 'GUARANTEED PLAY' video-poker.

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Even with perfect play (that no human can even do) the payout was in the 95-96% range.

So I do not like them, I am sure they will also be offered at higher house edge, but worse of all, they are just a lower variance version of the same non-guaranteed game. And this is the opposite of what most gamblers want I think, especially for high house edge games. You do not want to play a 50% payout lottery if highest price is *3 bet etc. But if it is 1M*bet, then there is some appeal in the bet which makes up for the higher house edge.

But if you truly just want to be entertained and do not care about winnings, then this game is good, but actually you should instead consider lowering your bet-size which will make the session last longer.

In case you are in doubt, I do not like this concept.
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Dormant account
May 11, 2006
North of Antarctica
The Wizard says that the player can cash out at any time as long as they are ahead. A part of Jetset's post seems to imply that no matter what, you have to play all the hands before you can cash out - and only if you are ahead.

If that's the case, then there is very little difference between Guaranteed Play and an online casino bonus with a wagering requirement. In both cases you are forced to to wager X amount Y times on a 5% house edge game... under the guise of "extending your play" (but most of the time guaranteeing a profit for the casino).

Wagering requirements at a B&M casino. I don't really like the idea either, but I bet with some tweaking they could make it work. Instead of starting at zero, start it at the number of coins equivalent to the purchase price, and say that in order to cash out you must exceed twice that amount. And the player should indeed be able to cash out a positive balance at any time they wish to do so.

Also, there should be some way to save the state of the session, so that if someone is playing and suddenly needs to vomit or gets an instant case of diarrhea, they can quickly hit the Print Ticket button and grab it on the way to the bathroom, then return later to finish the session.