7 Mechanised Cash Bingo (MCB)
These guidelines apply to the form of bingo known as Mechanised Cash Bingo (MCB) which is also known as Party Xtra, Cashline or an interval bingo game. Normally this is a 75 or 80 number game (this game format has also been used on Main Stage paper tickets). Games may be played on or at fixed installations (including fixed installations with hand-held playing boards) using electronic, paper (usually on special games only) and mechanical apparatus, or is played on Electronic Bingo Terminals (EBTs), whether fixed installations or portable tablets. Mechanised Cash Bingo can be played for monetary or non-monetary prizes. These Bingo Association Guidelines represent best practice.
7.2 Information to be Displayed
The Bingo and Casino Equipment Technical Requirements issued by the Gambling Commission (see 7.10) contain a number of display and other requirements for the playing of MCB. Information to be displayed for interval games is:
a) game number
b) game type (e.g. prize, cash)
c) cost per game (unless this is indicated orally to players)
d) number of boards in play for linked games and number of players in play for non-linked games
e) prize (cash prizes only; non cash prizes to be announced by other means), and
f) last number called
g) During claim checking, a representation of the ticket being checked, including its relevant serial or permutation numbers must be shown, together with its status (valid, not valid or already checked.)
h) Details of winning claims must be displayed so that the information is available to all players simultaneously.
7.3 Specific Error Conditions and Alert Requirements (from the Gambling Commission’s Bingo and Casino Technical Requirements July 2008)
Devices must detect, display and alert the operator to the types of error conditions and significant events. If the error or event affects the game-play in any way, the device should ’lock up’ and allow no further game-play until the error or event is cleared either automatically or by operator intervention:
a) events/errors related to payment to play, e.g. coins, notes
b) events/errors related to operation of the device, e.g. battery failure, programme error
c) events/errors related to security
d) events/errors related to payouts
Equipment used for the playing of interval bingo games but which by reason of its design cannot meet the above requirement must indicate to the player whether they are entered into the game.
7.4 Charges and Limits
A charge for playing Mechanised Cash Bingo shall be displayed to customers at the main book selling point, as part of the notice detailing the ‘charges to play’ for all other games.
The Bingo Association currently recommend and informal monetary limit with regard to games of MCB which is set at a level of £20 per person per game. This limit may be subject to change.
The prize in any game may be one or any combination of the following:
a) A cash prize which shall be the actual amount given in cash;
b) A non-cash prize which will be calculated at the invoice value (including VAT) of the item; and
c) Shopping/gift vouchers which will bear a cash value clearly marked on the front.
7.5 Customer Responsibility
In all games of MCB, as with paper bingo, it is the player’s responsibility to mark (for a paper version), cover (on MCB) or otherwise physically monitor (on EBTs), the numbers called and the onus shall remain on the winning player to stop the game and make a claim.
7.6 Proprietors’ Responsibilities
Proprietors must ensure:
That at each playing position, there is a clearly visible, visual indicator activated as confirmation of payment for each game.
Participants in MCB play only on equipment (or on specially printed tickets with extended MCB permutations) as specified in 7.1 and the sale of chances is made only on these formats.
The prize(s) and the circumstances under which the prize(s) may be won in each game must be published before the game is completed.
Rules of play for MCB must be displayed in the licensed premises. The rules must be clear that prepayment and the activation of the visual indicator (where appropriate) at the player’s position are prerequisites for a winning claim.
The start and finish of each series of games and any change to a game other than MCB must be clearly announced.
Where the equipment includes a facility for players to make advance payment for more than one game, operators must ensure that any credit due to a player may be recovered by that player from the operator at the end of any game of MCB.
Records of the number of games played, players’ participation fees and prizes won must be kept. For high value prizes above the company’s set cash limit, winning customer(s) details (name/membership number) and all information must be retained on the bingo club premises for a minimum of six months (or as company rules dictate).
The requirement for a daily test of MCB equipment is considered unnecessary where the operator can show that the equipment installed incorporates the facility to automatically initiate an “end to end” test from each play position whenever a coin is inserted for play, and also satisfies the other requirements in the ways of ensuring that the MCB equipment is functioning correctly. The only system element at each play position which is not tested by the end to end test is the mechanical claim button (where fitted), which should be subject to a manual test not less than once per week.
An end to end test is an automatic test initiated by the insertion of a coin at any play position which causes an electronic message to be sent from the local player control board to the central controller to indicate that credit has been detected. This in turn initiates a return message from the central controller to the play position to light the valid stake indicator. Thus all system components – from coin mechanism to central controller to stake indicator light, are tested each time a coin is inserted.
It is recommended that a full coin pad check be performed on the MCB unit at least once per operating month/period to provide evidence of the reliability of the MCB equipment. Records of this check should be retained for a minimum period of six months.
Note: operators should decide how often they test their equipment based on the size of their club, the number of units and how often they are played. Some larger operators undertake this test twice monthly.
For equipment which does not satisfy the criteria set out in paragraph 7.7.1 – 7.7.2 above, operators must:
a) Check the operation and accuracy of the MCB equipment, either by physically cross-checking at least once per session or by means of a slot by slot test (including the ‘claim button’) before the commencement of the first session of the day.
b) Display on the notice board the board numbers of all MCB playing positions.
c) Evidence of the foregoing tests must be retained on the premises for a period of four months.
7.8 Cashless Play (i.e. use of EBTs)
MCB is now often incorporated in to EBTs. Where this is the case the ‘cashless play’ guidelines apply as detailed in the Bingo and Casino Equipment Technical Requirements July 2008 which can be found on the Gambling Commission website.
Equipment used for the playing of interval bingo games, but which by reason of its design may have events or errors related to the operation of the device (e.g. battery failure, programme error), must indicate to the player whether they are entered into the game. In addition these devices must give a warning when the battery life of the device reaches a low level.
An audit log of sufficient time stamping of significant events must be maintained in order to be able to resolve any player disputes arising as a result of timing issues. It must be possible to display the audit log on the site operator’s premises.
7.9 Ways of Ensuring that the MCB Equipment is Functioning Correctly
Operators should comply with section B7.6. if the equipment does not satisfy the following checklist of seven points (B7.9.2 to B7.9.8):
Does the equipment employ a bi-directional ‘end to end’ communications protocol between local player controller boards and the central controller equipment?
It is important that a coin being detected at the player position cannot illuminate the valid stake indicator unless communication with the central controller can be guaranteed. This may lead to a situation where a fault condition may allow a player to believe they are playing a game when, in fact, they are not.
Are there any circumstances where the player valid stake indicator could illuminate without the central controller being aware of it?
This is important for the same reasons as stated above in 7.9.2.
Is it possible for any player position to take part in a game of MCB without the central controller being aware of this?
MCB equipment usually allows ‘programming’ of player positions to allow for the expansion of positions, etc. It is important that only those positions which are programmed are allowed into a game of MCB, and that those left unprogrammed are barred from playing.
Does the central controller ensure that all money staked is electronically accounted for and that such control equipment will ensure safe records are kept in the event of mains failure or equipment malfunction?
This is to prevent fraudulent use of the equipment, masked by apparent equipment failure.
Does the central controller ensure adequate audit trails are kept electronically and are available in printed form for all money staked, prizes paid, par fees, tax, number of games played, number of players per game and that such electronic audit records are stored safely?
This is required for basic audit trails.
If a coin mechanism is jammed in a closed position is this reported to the operator immediately?
This provides the operator with a means of quickly dealing with the problem.
Is the player valid stake indicator of a very high reliability type?
This is important to ensure that non-illumination of the valid stake indicator is due to non-insertion of stake, or a faulty micro switch, and NOT due to an indicator failure.