Peer into the future
When we fantasize about having poker superpowers, one that is usually at the top of people’s lists is the ability to see what cards are coming next. This power could be extremely useful in other forms of casino gambling, as well, and guess what? It exists in some cases. There are actually gambling machines that allow you to see what will happen in the next game.
Now, don’t get too excited. You aren’t about to hop on a flight to Las Vegas and bankrupt the casino with your Carnac the Magnificent abilities. These “pre-reveal” machines aren’t even found in casinos and, of course, aren’t going to suddenly give every player a massive edge. In fact, in Missouri, there is a battle going on about the legality of such machines, as some lawmakers want them outlawed.
Pre-reveal machines look and behave much like slot machines, except for one key difference: the player is told the outcome of the next spin. Sounds glorious, right? Sure, it is certainly better than a regular slot machine, where you don’t at all know what will happen next. If the pre-reveal machine tells you the next hand or game will be a loser, then you don’t have to play. Just don’t deposit money or, if you already did, withdraw it. If there are multiple machines at a location, go check the others to see what their next result will be.
Of course, all that glitters is not gold. You don’t know the results after the next one, so if you want a chance to win and the machine says the next result is a loser, you have to suck it up, take the loss, and hope the next one will be ok.
Uphill legal battle for game makers
And this is part of the problem makers of the machines are having in Missouri. In 2018, a Florida appeals court ruled that pre-vale machines are, in fact, slot machines, and because they are played outside of casinos, they are illegal.
According to WUSF News, the fact that one can find out the next result doesn’t matter. The machines still use random number generator to determine the result, making them games of chance.
“While it is true that the user is advised of the outcome of the game at hand ahead of time through the preview feature,” the court said, “the user cannot predict that outcome until it is randomly generated and then displayed by the machine. Nor can the user predict the outcome of Game 2 while playing Game 1.”
“There is nothing a player can do to change the outcome that is randomly generated by the machine from among millions of potential outcomes,” the court added, differentiating pre-reveal machines from games of skill.
These are the same arguments lawmakers in Missouri are making. Last Thursday, a state Senate committee heard a bill that would ban the games. Two machine makers have already been found guilty of illegal gambling other prosecutions are pending. Torch Electronics, which is based in Missouri, is fighting tooth and nail to convince people that their games are perfectly legal.
Lobbyist Tom Robbins said, “Our games are not gambling devices because they are not games of chance,” Robbins said, explaining that players can find out the result of the next spin without putting money into the machine.
Sen. Bill White calls the argument that pre-reveal games are games of chance a “loose and fictitious” one.
If the pre-reveal machines offer the player their money back before ‘purchasing’ the known outcome, that is NOT a gambling device. You need three elements to be considered a gambling device; consideration (wager) risk (random outcome) and reward (or the potential of one). This device, if it offers the player the return of their money, does not have a risk element.
Yup, I think that’s where much (all?) of the debate is. Looks like one of the big questions is whether or not the law applies to just a single game/spin or a series of games/spins. The Florida court a few years ago said, “While it is true that the user is advised of the outcome of the game at hand ahead of time through the preview feature, the user cannot predict that outcome until it is randomly generated and then displayed by the machine. Nor can the user predict the outcome of Game 2 while playing Game 1.”
It’s an interesting debate.