Frabjous Times

Pseudorandomness considered harmful

Cheating Fruit Machines [via eardrumbuzz] is an article complaining that fruit machines (called slot machines in the U. S.) commonly found in pubs are unfair:
The machine has already determined whether you're going to win or lose. If the machine has decided you're going to lose and you choose "Higher", the machine will spin in a number lower than a 10. If you choose "Lower", it'll spin in a higher number. There's absolutely nothing you can do about it. It's not a "gamble" at all. It's fraud, and it's illegal. You're being robbed.
Are they just unhappy that the machines (insofar as the emulator represents them accurately) are pseudorandom/deterministic and not truly random? If they picked a different starting point in their emulator and found a state where both "Higher" and "Lower" invariably resulted in a payoff, would they still be this disgruntled?
This has me thinking about the way the programming works. I wonder whether the Halting Problem might apply here perhaps?
Originally published: 05-07-2003 12:00:59