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Casino Scene: Are slot bonus rounds really a bonus?

Casino Scene: Are slot bonus rounds really a bonus?

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We all know what we're up against when we play the slots:

Every game is a computer program that guarantees a profit for the casino. Players as a collective group are guaranteed to be returned a vast majority of the money the machine takes in. Only a select few share in the wealth. Remember, there are thousands of people who play the machine over the course of a year. There is only one casino operator.

What a slot machine possesses in the way of eye appeal is vitally important to both slot machine manufacturers and casino executives. The colors, the sights, the sounds, the name of the game, and the jackpot symbols and how they are depicted play a major role in attracting potential players to sit down and try their luck.

A number of years ago slot machines went commercial when International Game Technology/Anchor Gaming introduced Wheel of Fortune, a slot format based on the iconic television game show of the same name.

The popularity of Wheel of Fortune paved the way for WMS Gaming to enter into a licensing agreement with Hasbro Inc.'s Parker Brothers unit and unveil machines with a Monopoly theme, taking advantage of the board game that has been an American institution since the Great Depression.

The so-called "bonus game revolution" in the slot machine industry rages on.

Even though bonus games give players the illusion they are getting something extra for their slot machine play, it is in reality just that, an illusion. As much fun as it may be to watch the Wheel of Fortune wheel spin for a "bonus" pay out, as excited and filled with anticipation as a player may be, that player is still paying for it, often times in a way he or she may not realize.

For example, all of the money paid out in bonuses comes from the base game itself. If a machine is programmed to return to players 93 percent of what it takes in, any bonuses are paid out of that amount.

There is no "extra" money put aside for bonuses. The price can be hefty, too. Casinos have taken as much as 40 percent from the base game and put it into the bonus feature aspect! That means the amount of money the machine is programmed to pay for winning combinations outside the bonus feature suffers dramatically.

The bottom line with casino owners and operators is which games generate the most profits, and right now the bonus games are red hot.

Yet another means to extract more money from slot players in a faster period of time is multi-line games. Slot machines that give you the option of putting in larger of amounts of coins per spin are rampant.

The lure, of course, is for the player to win more money and/or participate in bonus features based on the amount of coins he or she plays.

The lesson to be learned from all of this is to not let the casino industry dictate to you how you should spend your wagering dollar. Don't be tricked into thinking you're getting something extra, or that you're getting a bonus in addition to what you're legally entitled to get. You're getting what YOU pay for and not what the casino pays for.

Also, don't be tempted to spend more than you can afford, or to play more than what you want to play. The bonus lures and "eye candy" appeal of slot machines are designed with one thing in mind: To get a bigger share of your bankroll faster.


BLUE CHIP: The casino’s new Tournament Zone will be the scene of a $40,000 slot tournament May 11 – 12. Registration is open now through 5:30 p.m. on May 8 at the Spa Blu Hotel or by calling 888-879-7711, Ext. 3. The first round of tournament action will be held May 11 at 7:00 p.m. The second and final round will take place at 9:00 a.m. on May 12. There is a $125 buy-in.

MAJESTIC STAR: Your opportunity win a Harley comes every Saturday now through May 10. Each promotion day from 3:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. two0 winners will be selected every half hour to win $200 in Promo Cash and 200 bonus entries into the grand prize drawing. At 10:00 p.m. one winner will be randomly selected to win a Sportster Super Low on April 19, April 26, and May 3. A Softail Fatboy Low will be the grand prize Harley on May 10.


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