Lightning Link

A variety of machines are in Blue Chip Casino's Lightning Link Lounge.

The competition among the world’s slot machine manufacturers is fierce. The common goal is to see their product line occupy as much space in the casinos as possible.

The only way to do that is to convince the owners and operators of casino properties their machines are the ones that people will want to play.

With that in mind, Aristocrat Technologies Inc. caught lightning in a bottle with their “Lightning Link” and follow-up “Dragon Link” slot play concepts. Together they are the rage of slot players world-wide.

Bret Cox, assistant general manager at Blue Chip Casino, Hotel & Spa in Michigan City, was quick to pick up on the attention the bank of Lightning Link slots was receiving on the casino floor this year.

“People vote with their feet,” Cox said, “and it was apparent that the overwhelming response from our guests was that they wanted more of the games.”

Blue Chip accommodated the demand by not only doubling the number of units available, but also constructing a dedicated area on the casino floor for people to play them.

Working in partnership with the manufacturer, Blue Chip created a Lightning Link Lounge in space that was previously dedicated to video poker games.

“We have 33 machines in total, including Lightning Link and Dragon Link,” Cox said. “Each set of games is linked to a common progressive jackpot. They are so popular it is not uncommon to see every seat in the lounge occupied.

“Aristocrat was a terrific partner in the design of the lounge. The signage is eye-catching from other points on the casino floor, making guests who are interested in playing Lightning Link visually attracted to the area.”

There is little doubt Blue Chip’s Lightning Link Lounge, similar to others that are popping up at casinos around the country, has an electricity and personality all its own.

“The games come in a variety of themes for our guests to choose among,” Cox said. “Some of the ‘old reliable’ themes that have been adapted to Lightning Link include Heart Throb, Magic Pearl, Moon Race and Best Bet. There are some new themes, too, including Wild Chuco, Eyes of Fortune and Dragon Riches.”

Lightning Link and Dragon Link games share the popular “hold and spin” bonus feature during which players eagerly watch the grid on their screens fill up with credit values. As long as you continue to fill at least one panel in the grid with a value, the spins keep coming.

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When the round is over, visual ‘bolts of lightning’ appear on the display to transfer the values to your bank. The sensory impact of the games on players is spell-binding, combined with the lure of a linked grand jackpot and a selection of lesser jackpots.

The Lightning Link Lounge isn’t all that’s new in Blue Chip’s slot inventory. During a tour of the floor, Cox brought me over to the new Madonna and FarmVille themed slots.

Boyd Gaming properties across the United States became the first gaming operators in the country to deploy the games, which are housed in Aristocrat’s revolutionary “Edge X” cabinet. Both themes feature free games and the “mighty cash hold & spin” mechanic.

“We have two Madonna and two FarmVille games, each of which has a bench seat adequate enough for couples and friends to sit side-by-side in front of the machine for a shared interactive experience,” Cox said.

One last stop before the end of the tour took us to the new Wheel of Fortune 4D slot bank along the wall around the corner from Rocks Lounge.

International Game Technology (IGT) first released Wheel of Fortune themed slots in 1996 and since then has created more than 260 variations of the game in 20 countries worldwide.

The games have created more than 1,000 millionaires and delivered more than $3-billion in jackpots in casinos around the world throughout their 23-year history.

Blue Chip’s new Wheel of Fortune is housed in IGT’s CrystalCurve TRUE 4D cabinet with a 50-inch, curved, ultra-HD upper display to create one unified graphic of the Wheel of Fortune wheel.

It offers players glasses-free 3D entertainment and the ability to interact with the game’s 3D graphics, including gesture recognition technology which enables you to manipulate the game’s 3D objects. Mid-air haptic technology gives a tactile feedback experience from the game’s graphics.

BLUE CHIP: This year’s Progressive Payout promotion, which began last March, has come down to mandatory payoff time. On Friday (Oct. 25) $100,000 is guaranteed to be given away at three separate drawings. Five names will be drawn for the $8,000 drawing at 8 p.m., five more names will be drawn for the $32,000 drawing at 9 p.m., and 15 names will be drawn for the grand prize $60,000 drawing at 10 p.m. The grand prize was won twice this season in earlier monthly drawings. Earn entries playing slots and table games through 9:55 p.m. on Friday. Activate your entries at the promotional kiosks. B Connected members will receive one entry for every 20 Tier Credits earned Thursday through Sunday. Please visit the B Connected player’s club counter for complete information.

FOUR WINDS: The “Fall Clean Up” drawings at the New Buffalo destination are set for Friday (Oct. 25) from 5 to 11 p.m. (EDT). At 5 p.m., four winners will be selected to each win $1,000 in cash. Each hour from 6 to 10 p.m., three guests will each receive a $1,000 Lowe’s gift card. The final drawing at 11 p.m. will see two guests win $3,000 in cash. Visit the W Club promotions center for complete details. Winners must be present.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.