What is ‘Short-pay’?
‘Short-pay’ is the term used when a slot machine or video poker machine is unable to pay out a full winning prize, due to a lack of coins in the machine. The machine will simply stop when it cannot pay out anymore. It might also refer to a technical fault that causes the machine to pay out less than it says has been won. A short-pay can be resolved easily by the casino attendant, who will either fill up the machine or pay the jackpot at the casino’s bank.
Older styles of slot machines do not use electronic payments, instead collecting coins or tokens. If several large prizes have been won, there might be too few coins to pay out the full prize to the player. The machine will pay what it can, leaving a balance owed to the player. This is known as ‘short-pay’. To avoid short-pay situations, casino runners will refill the machines regularly while the casino is open for business. In the event of a short-pay, the casino will rectify it with the player as quickly as possible, after verifying the win at the machine.
Short-pay by a machine is not always the casino’s fault – or their liability. The casino’s duty is to keep the machine filled and to cover any short-paid wins in the event that the machine does not hold enough coins. If the machine is full but the machine itself has malfunctioned in some way, there is usually no obligation to honour the bet. There have been high-profile cases in court relating to missed jackpots from faulty machines, such as where a player is told they have won the jackpot but in reality they do not have the right symbols. It might be a case which can be taken up with the game manufacturer, but the casino is not to blame. However, some casinos might honour the prize anyway, as a goodwill gesture to the player. To avoid instances of short pay, most slot game machines and poker machines are regularly refilled by casino staff.