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There are many legends about near misses, tragic tales of a fortune almost realized. The huge Megabucks jackpots have created their own lore. Megabucks is a network of linked progressive slot machines whose jackpot starts out at $7 million and continues to grow until someone hits. As the jackpot increases, more whispers about near misses circulate. The names of the casinos are interchangeable as these occurrences are said to have happened at every place in Las Vegas. None of them did, prior to March 2001.

(Underage gamblers have been refused jackpots, just never a Megabucks one. In 1989 a Nevada court denied 19-year-old Kirk Erickson a $1,061,812 jackpot he'd hit at Caesar's Palace in 1987.)

On 14 March 2001, Kirk Tolman, a 22-year-old Utah man, mistakenly played two coins instead of the Megabucks-requisite three on a machine at the State Line Hotel and Casino in Wendover, a gambling establishment in Nevada just across the Utah state line. The Megabucks symbols lined up on the pay line, and for want of a dollar, $7.9 million was lost. The $10,000 consolation prize probably wasn't all that consoling to the man whose distracting chat with a friend had led to his not dropping the third coin into play.

A further bit of Megabucks lore confidently states that the jackpot will be hit at the newest resort casino in operation. Savvy visitors to Las Vegas will sagely nod as they inform you the next Megabucks is "set to go" at the newest glitz palace in town. That too is hogwash. Where the jackpot is hit is determined by pure chance and not by anyone high up in the casino industry paying off IGT for the prestige of having one of its machines hit. If the Megabucks jackpot appears to be awarded more often at the newer casinos, it's due to them being better attended - more people through the casino means more people playing the machines. The more people who play the machines at any one casino, the greater the chances the jackpot will be hit there. And that's all there is to it.

A newer casino whisper brings the focus back onto the players. A 1997 legend has it that casinos are forced to regularly replace their carpets because Asian players won't leave the games long enough to take a bathroom break. On the same theme, there are tales about gamblers wearing Depends underwear rather than risk losing their lucky machine to an interloper.

Slots Myths
Myth: Slot machines are breaking down because people are pouring holy water into the coin slots for good luck, rusting the computer chips.
Truth: Slot machines aren't being anointed with water, holy or unholy. And if someone did pour some kind of liquid into a slot machine, it wouldn't hurt the aluminum workings of the game. The story originated decades ago, when more unreliable slot machines would jam when gamblers accidentally spilled their drinks into the coin slots.

Rumor: Somewhere above the slot machines is a room where a man watches gamblers on video cameras, deciding which person should win the next jackpot.
Truth: The machines operate independently, with no control of the casino.

Rumor: Gamblers should avoid playing machines that have recently paid out a jackpot.
Truth: The machines operate on a random basis. The chances of hitting a jackpot are the same on the play after the machine hits as they were before the machine hit.

Rumor: It used to take three 7s to win the jackpot on a slot machine. Now, on some machines, three 7s pay only a small amount, so the casino can make more money.
Truth: The odds of winning a jackpot have remained the same; only the icons representing a jackpot have changed. To keep players' interest, jackpot icons are changed occasionally. An example: On the Crazy Crawdads slot machines, the jackpot icons are dancing crayfish.

Rumor: Don't put one token in a slot machine and move on, because that will disrupt the rhythm of the machine.
Truth: The machines have no rhythm. Believing the way tokens are put into the slots influences the outcome "is like going to Disneyland and believing you can influence the length of the ride by how you stand in line".

Suicide Myths
Suicide is a common theme running through many gambling legends, so it should come as no surprise one bit of lore centers on a "suicide table." On display - not in use - at the Delta Saloon, in Virginia City, Nevada (about a half hour from Reno), this table is reputed to have a dark history.

According to legend, the first owner of this 1860s card table lost $70,000 in one night and shot himself. The next owner had it for one night, ran up a debt he couldn't pay and either killed himself or had someone else do him the favor. The table was stored for several years but none of its bad luck disappeared. The next (and last) purchaser lost $86,000, his mine, and his horses in one night. He figured losing his life was the next logical step and killed himself.

Rumor: A dozen people have committed suicide after losing their life savings in Casino Windsor.
Truth: One man attempted suicide by driving his car down the casino's boat ramp. But that man hadn't been gambling, and tried to kill himself over a domestic dispute.

Gambling Myths
Rumor: A foreign businessman comes to the casino once a year with a million dollars in his briefcase. He bets all of the money on one roll of the dice at the craps table. Whether he wins or loses, he leaves immediately, only to return the following year with another briefcase full of cash.
Truth: The betting limits are $5,000 most of the time. This legend is based on an actual case years ago in Las Vegas. The story continues to evolve as it travels from casino to casino.

Casino Myths
Legend: The casinos pump extra oxygen onto the gaming floors to make gamblers playing more / don't mind losing money.
Truth: Pumping oxygen or anything else into a casino to make people gamble would be a felony. The legend has its roots in a failed experiment in an Atlantic City casino, where a scientist asked permission to study the effects of different scents on patrons. The results were inconclusive.

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