New regs over payout limits spark debate

October 30, 2001 8:05 AM
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A potentially controversial rule on payouts could spark fireworks at a state hearing next week.

The proposed regulation sets limits on payoffs for table games and slots. The rule covers individual players making minimum bets and attempts to clarify sometimes-confusing pay tables.

“We call it fairness and awareness,” Gaming Control Board member Scott Scherer said.

But some in the industry say the rule may actually confuse matters. “The wording of this regulation is just plain dumb. Whoever wrote it was a lawyer or stupid ”” or both,” said one slot maker.

The regulation states: “The maximum payout to each individual player may not be less than the maximum award with the minimum wager required to play the game, or 50 times the minimum wager, whichever is greater.”

The rule adds that maximum payouts must be “prominently and clearly stated on the payoff schedule or award card.”

Scherer said “a handful” of disputes arise each year over maximum payouts. They are especially common on games with high odds on certain combinations. Such games include Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud and royal flush jackpots.

“As we get new creative games, the problem gets bigger,” he told GamingToday.

Industry sources say Scherer has that right. “A lot of games don’t specify maximum awards because no one really knows. You can’t feasibly post all lines,” said one.

A specialty card game maker also took issue with the “50 times” standard. A popular three-card poker game, for example, currently pays 40-to-1, so the company expects to contest the “50 times” multiplier.

Flawed as it may be, some sort of rule appears to be needed. One local casino, for instance, runs a Fortune Pai Gow game boasting 8,000-to-1 payoffs for a seven-card straight flush. With a minimum bet of $5, the top payout should total $40,000. But a sign at the table caps it at just $25,000.

The public hearing on the proposed regulation will be conducted a 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Sawyer State Office Building on Washington Avenue.

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