- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Common slot machine reset keys - identical to one that caused a Reno casino to be hit with a $1 million gaming fine - are easily found for sale on various websites.

How simple?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/1iG33tr) purchased two of the keys - often referred to as the 2341 slot machine reset/attendant key - from an eBay seller in Winona, Minn., for $12.44, including shipping and handling.

But was the transaction a waste of money?

The key is a common tool used by slot machine technicians to gather information or reset a game following verification of a large jackpot. Most keys are generic and work on slot machines of all manufacturers.

The key lets someone with intricate knowledge of a typical slot machine’s inner workings to view hold percentage settings, game history, and payouts on the game’s screen. Gaming regulators require that 30 different technical standards be displayed when the 2341 key is inserted on the side of a slot machine.

But the key can’t alter a game’s outcome - it won’t line up three sevens or program a jackpot.

“This key cannot access the brain box of a slot machine,” Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett told the Nevada Gaming Commission on Feb. 20. That day, the panel accepted the seven-figure fine paid by the Peppermill Casino after an employee was caught using a 2341 key to steal proprietary information, such as slot machine hold percentages, from 11 rival Northern Nevada casinos.

Jim Barbee, chief of the Control Board’s technology division, said state regulations require a casino to perform some level of hardware or software change to alter a game’s odds. That task involves opening a slot machine to get into its inner workings.

The 2341 key can’t do that.

“That requires a whole different key that has to be signed out from security,” Barbee said. “There are various levels of security to get in there. The 2341 key cannot impact the game itself.”

‘THE ALLEN WRENCH’ OF GAMING

Slot machine reset keys were considered an innocuous gaming industry tool until the Peppermill situation.

One 2341 key can be used on slot machines manufactured by International Game Technology, Bally Technologies, WMS Industries, and others.

“It’s kind of like the Allen wrench of gaming industry,” IGT Product Management Director Jacob Lanning said. “It’s useful to the operator. But beyond that, I’m not real sure what other use it could have.”

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