Interblock makes electronic craps games (and others) that are popular in casinos worldwide. A suit was recently filed against Interblock claiming that the game shorts players on winning bets by not paying the full payout odds. As with any casino game, the payout odds are already in the casino’s favor, but the Interblock machines make the winning payouts for certain bets much worse without the players’ knowledge. The lawsuit also includes the Isle Casino, which is located in Pompano Beach, Florida, because that’s where the machines named in the suit are physically located. Some live table games remain illegal in the state of Florida, including craps, but the electronic varieties became legal in 2012. The electronic craps games are commonly known under various names, such as “Bubble Craps.” The Interblock company is centered in Slovenia and will not provide data on their machine sales and revenues. The company’s head in the U.S. is located in Las Vegas, but he declined to answer phone calls.
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The suit claims that the game falsely promotes itself by taking 5% straight off the top of every dollar that a player wagers on a winning bet; but, in reality, it also pockets 5% of a player’s winnings. (..) So, according to the lawsuit, for winning bets where the game takes that extra 5%, the player’s payout is reduced by 10%, not the straight-up 5% as promoted. Lawyers for the firm that filed the suit included the Isle Casino in the complaint because that’s where the players played. The lawyers believe the casino can research its records (e.g., using players club accounts) to determine how much each player bet and won, and how much was overcharged for each of those winning bets. Although agents of the Isle Casino’s parent corporation provided no detailed comments because of the unresolved suit, they did indicate that the casino’s Interblock electronic craps machines were turned off and closed once the suit was filed.
Most players don’t know the game well enough, or just assume the game plays according to its advertised rules. When they win, they see their bankrolls increase but they don’t sit there and calculate in their heads whether the numbers truly add up. The game was caught because someone finally did the math. The lawyers looked at Interblock machines in other Florida casinos and found that the same inconsistencies exist in almost every machine that they checked.
The lawsuit makes specific mention of the Buy bet. The Buy bet is one of the best bets on a craps table because its house advantage is relatively low compared to most other types of bets. Different bets have different house advantages. What determines a “good” bet from a “bad” bet is how big or small the house advantage is. By adding the additional 5% commission taken out as the lawsuit claims, the Buy bet’s house advantage is increased to an amount that the gaming industry considers “bad.” So, the player who unknowingly makes Buy bets on Interblock machines is actually making bets that he would normally avoid because of the relatively high house advantage.
In a legitimate casino, the chance of finding an electronic gaming machine that intentionally shorts the player is rare because it’s not worth it for the casino to risk its gaming license. Casinos make tons of money with the standard payout structures, so they don’t need to risk adding a few more percentage points by intentionally cheating. State gaming boards routinely check machines for compliance, but industry professionals say this irregularity is probably not intentional cheating by the casino, but rather a hiccup in the software code. The Isle Casino immediately took the machine out of play when they learned of the discrepancy. It was noted in the lawsuit that the money collected by the additional commissions stayed with the casino; it did not find its way back to Interblock.
The electronic versions of craps are rapidly gaining popularity over live tables for various reasons. Some players don’t like the social aspect of a live table and they just want to be left alone. Some players are intimated by a live table and prefer the anonymity a machine can offer. Younger players are so used to fiddling with their electronic gadgets that playing craps on a machine is comfortable for them. Casinos like the machines because they take less floor space and cost less to operate (i.e., a machine doesn’t require a 5-person crew as does a live table — boxman, stickman, two dealers at the table, and one dealer on break). So, the machines are here to stay, they just need the glitches fixed. Interlock simply needs to resolve the discrepant payout process and then the casino could open them up for play again. It is unknown at this time if Interblock will take action to fix the machines, but it is believed to be in their best interest to do so or risk losing future revenue.
** Update June 22 2017: Image used at the top of this article has been changed.