- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Winning a slot jackpot at a Mississippi casino is random and technical, yet many people believe how they play has something to do with whether they win.

Players certainly are trying to win their jackpot. The coin in - or the amount wagered, won and wagered again - is more than $1 billion every month at the 12 casinos in South Mississippi.

Warren the bull is the good luck charm for players at Boomtown Casino. Chris Foret, marketing manager, said regular players drop a quarter or a dollar into the bucket at the bull’s feet for luck when they enter the casino. That money is donated to a charity every three months.

Others set their lucky charms on the machines or tap the glass on the slot machine three times for luck, he said.

Some players take a more scientific approach.

“No skill, no talent,” is involved in winning, said frequent player Stephen Grimes of Gautier. “It’s just being in the right place at the right time.”

He’s won $5,000 at a time and although he has no expectation of winning every time, he feels players should expect to hit bonus rounds often.

He tests the new games at the Southern Gaming Summit expo each year and said, “It has been surprising how many new games being showcased by their manufactures can go 100 spins without awarding a bonus feature.”

If the payoff isn’t what people expect, Grimes said, he and others will play less and spend less. He and his wife prefer the older Moon and Stars and Pompeii machines manufactured by Aristocrat because of the frequent bonus rounds.

Matt Wilson, vice president of marketing for Aristocrat Technologies, said the company has an amazing number of loyal followers and matches its strategies for game development with core gamblers who want the chance to win a jackpot, those who play for the entertainment, and those who look for a licensed game such as Superman.

The Australian slot manufacturer entered the U.S. market with an Australian-style machine for players looking for a big win, he said. A high-volatility machine pays out less often but pays out big, he said. Low-volatility machines pay more often but in lower amounts.

“Some players go into a casino knowing they’re not going to win big,” Wilson said.

For those who play for the entertainment value, $50 can last for two hours, he said. With a high-volatility game, $50 could last 10 minutes, “but you could win big,” he said.

It’s up to the Mississippi Gaming Commission to keep the games fair for both the casinos and the players.

Emil Lyon, director of the commission’s laboratory, said his department tests each manufacturer’s new games and verifies every like machine in the state has the same program.

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