Intriguing 'then and now' slot machine facts

2013-12-12T00:00:00Z Intriguing 'then and now' slot machine factsJohn G. Brokopp jbrokopp@comcast.net nwitimes.com
December 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The dramatic evolution of slot machines extends beyond technological advancements. Today’s computer-driven games are also masters at manipulating the people who play them, thanks to the ingenuity of the researchers, mathematicians, and marketing specialists who develop them.

There is much value in exploring the differences between slot machines “then and now” to better understand how companies have designed the games to entice people to play them.

Then: Getting a winning combination of symbols across the pay line on a traditional spinning reel slot was just that; a winner. You won more money than you bet.

Now: Today’s multi-line video and reel slot machines yield winning configurations of symbols that pay less than the amount of the bet. In other words, you spin a winning combination but lose money. There are video and audio effects to celebrate “the win”. It’s all a subliminal marketing strategy to make players think they are winning when in fact they’re really losing.

Look at it this way: If you get a winning configuration of symbols on every spin that pay you less money than you bet, you’ll ultimately go broke. What you did accomplish was fulfilling the goal of gaming companies to keep people on the machines for longer periods (time on device) in the hopes of entertaining them in exchange for extracting more of their cash.

Then: The ultimate goal of everyone who played slots was hitting the jackpot, that unique set of symbols across the pay line that gave you the biggest win possible.

Now: The introduction of the bonus round on multi-line video and reel slot machines dangles a tantalizing but illusive carrot in front of slot players. Instead of playing for the jackpot, people play for the bonus round which, depending upon the volatility of the machine, comes much more frequently than a jackpot.

Virtually every gaming company has been highly successful with the bonus round concept as a way to drive revenue on machines. Some manufacturers have made the bonus rounds highly interactive. That is, players can make touch screen choices which determine, to a certain extent, the amount of the bonus they’ll receive.

Other companies, such as Aristocrat, keep their bonus rounds as simple as awarding winning players a block of “free spins”. Sometimes the result is significant, other times it’s a bust, keeping in mind that the outcomes of bonus rounds are not based on random spins but rather on “bonus reels” that are ruled by the machine’s internal computer program.

No matter what the design of the bonus round, they are specifically designed to entice players to “chase” them. Just as it was never good advice to chase jackpots, neither is it good advice to chase bonus rounds. Hoping that the bonus symbols will pop on the grid in all their electronic and visual splendor on “just more spin” has been the ruin of many a slot player.

BONUS ROUND-UP:

BLUE CHIP: Area blackjack players will be delighted to learn tournament play has returned every Saturday in December. Registration for the Blue Chip’s Blazin’ Blackjack Tournament begins each tournament day at 11 a.m. The tournament starts at noon with the final table set for 5 p.m. The entry fee is just $20 with unlimited re-entry for $20 after each round is completed. The prize pool is dependent on the number of entries.

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET: Secret Santa Saturdays are scheduled Dec. 14 and 21 for your chance to win a gift valued at up to $300. Swipe in to enter at Club Hollywood or a kiosk between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. each promotional day to activate your entries. Earn one entry for very five points earned. Two winners will be randomly selected every 15 minutes between noon and 8 p.m.

HORSESHOE: Did you know that the Shoe makes it easy for you to enjoy a beverage while playing your favorite game? Simply touch the “beverages” button on the Total Touch interactive screen. You’ll be able to select a beverage just the way you like it from an extensive list. Your order is routed to the bar followed by quick delivery by a server. Play with your Total Rewards card inserted and a history of your past orders will appear.

MAJESTIC STAR: Every Friday during December from noon to 5 p.m. is time to get in on a $5,000 slot tournament held on level three of Majestic Star I. The top 20 scores receive a share of $5,000 in Promo Cash. Session winners are awarded $20 in Promo Cash. To participate, Key Rewards player’s club members must earn 25 points from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each tournament day to be eligible for an entry voucher.

RIVERS: The $250,000 Countdown to Cash will be held every Thursday and Monday throughout the month of December. Swipe your player’s club card between 9 a.m. and 6 a.m. on the promotional days for a chance to receive finale drawing entries or up to $2,013 in free slot play. Win a share of up to $250,000 at the grand finale at 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 30. Players may earn finale entries through Dec. 29.

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