Slot Machine Business – You can play the slot machine in Las Vegas before you even arrive at baggage claim: there are small bars in every terminal at McCarran International Airport. After picking up your rental car, you can stop for gas and play at the dealership. And that’s all before you get to your hotel-casino, which – if it follows modern standards – dedicates about 80 percent of its games to the venue, and only 20 percent to the table games.
Bally Technologies, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of conveyor belts, is headquartered 3 miles south of the Strip. When I visited Bally in mid-March, Mike Trask, the company’s chief marketing officer, took me into the company’s showroom to play games. Compared to the cacophony of the casino floor, Bally’s show room felt monastic, the lights low and the room silent except for the hum of two sleeping chairs.
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Celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, and the company is hoping to tap into some of that nostalgia. “That person, that girl watched every episode of
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I took a seat in the front of the room, and Trask clicked on the icon in the upper corner of the display, I checked the box on the screen that confirmed I would get the bonus round, and told me to hit the spin button. I did, and the show’s theme song rendition played, the NBC script that made me laugh since I was a kid, and the five-episode scene — between Perk’s middle, the guitar, the character scenes — came down on the screen. The Lord
Bally assembles all of its machines in a factory warehouse next to the game studio and is located behind the Vegas headquarters. Last year, Science Games, Bally’s parent company, shipped more than 17,000,000 units. During my visit, hundreds of machines were assembled, featuring the classic black factory exterior and jutting boards, attached to the walls of the store.
A sign affixed to each bar indicated its destination: Oklahoma, Washington, Michigan, Canada. Only a few were destined for Vegas casinos, a symbol of the game’s expansion both nationally and internationally. Science Games bought Bally last year for 5 billion. At the time, 23 countries had legalized gambling, a highly taxed industry, to tap into the missing coffers.
But gaming expansion is generally an expansion of slot machines — modern casinos typically generate 70 to 80% of their revenue from slots, a stratospheric increase from the 1970s when slots were 50% or less. New York, the latest state to introduce gambling, has yet to legalize table games, and Pennsylvania, now the nation’s third-largest gaming state after Nevada and New Jersey, later legalized table games by changing its laws. . And increasingly, psychological and technical systems built in advance of robotics — including reward systems and tracking systems — have found admirers in Silicon Valley.
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At the factory, Trask and I walked through the ProWave bar, a design unveiled by Bally in mid-2014 that features a 32-inch screen, like a curved Samsung TV. Placing the same games on curved screens increased gameplay by 30-80 percent, Trask said. I asked him why that was. “It looks great; it’s incredibly clear,” she said in her voice. Game designers are responsible for calling for an invisible way of viewing electronic content – developing a simple and attractive system, a machine to attract and bet the players in a perfect rotation of effects and prizes that keep them glued to the chair for hours, their pockets slowly but surely. As we stood on top of the arcade, Trask told me about the MGM floor, which houses 2,500 different machines and games. Trask’s mission, as he saw it, was simple: “Our job is to get our game picked.”
The prototypical slot machine was invented in Brooklyn in the mid-1800s – it was a coin-operated slot machine that used playing cards. Inserting a nickel and pressing a lever selected cards in a small display window, and depending on the poker hand that appeared, the player could win items in the company that contained the machine. In 1898, Charles Fey developed the Liberty Bell poker machine, the first true slot machine with three reels and coin payouts. Each reel had 10 symbols, giving players a 1-in-1,000,000 chance of hitting the 50-cent jackpot if three Liberty Bells lined up. The three-reel design became popular in bars and became a casino standard, but for decades casinos saw it as a frivolous thing – a distraction to the wives of table players. Because of this, the casino was full of table games, and seats were being lowered in all directions.
That began to change in the 1960s, when Bally introduced electronic machines. The new device lets players deposit multiple coins on a single line, and the machines can multiply jackpots as well as award smaller, but more frequent wins. Multiple playable lines have been introduced: in addition to the horizontal line, players can now win with diagonal and zig-zagged combinations. New designs sped up gaming and breathed life into stagnant industries.
William “Si” Redd, a tie-wearing Mississippi native who oversaw Bally’s new ventures at the time, was instrumental in this new life. He said, “The player came to win, he didn’t come to lose, so it’s faster, give him more, he’s more independent. Let him win more, but then [the money maker] is still with the speed, because it was incredibly independent.” In other words, the new machines reduced the slots variable – the expression of how often a player experiences big wins and losses.
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Boulder Club casino floor, early 1950s. Image courtesy of University of Nevada, Las Vegas
In the 1970s, Redd left Bally to found another gaming company, later known as IGT. IGT specializes in slot machines, or video poker. Video poker machines can be designed to be flexible, paying players less money for more hands. And the video poker thing that made it so popular, turned it into a huge success: people lined up to play the first machines, and the game’s ability to command the player’s concentration for hours earned it the name of the “crack cocaine” of gambling. .
“If you take $100 and play somewhere, you’ll get one hour of play, but video poker is designed to give you two hours of play for that $100,” Redd said at the time. the time it took for the poker machine to process the player’s money.
Redd also received a patent for his innovative Random Number Generator, which used a special computer-calculation behind the wheel and allowed game makers to control the rotation. A modern machine, at its core, is nothing more than an RNG running through millions or billions of numbers all the time. When a player hits the wheel, they stop the RNG for a certain amount of time. Everything beyond that — the music, the mini-games, the real faces of the spinners, Rachel, Monica, and the rest of the gang that keep you going — is window dressing to keep you banging.
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IGT now makes 93 percent of the world’s video projectors and is the largest video projector manufacturer in the world. Its
The franchise manufactures a variety of equipment – reels, curved screens, and large equipment with a wide range of physical developments. During my visit to their Las Vegas office, I asked Jacob Lanning, IGT’s vice president of product management, what makes a good game. “If you can figure it out, you’ve got a job,” he said. Trask had told me something similar: “If we know a good game, we keep doing that game over and over again.”
Perhaps no one has discovered the Platonic vision of slot machines, but the same principles are common to many games. First, there’s a vague balance: colors tend to lean towards primary or pastel, franchises are important, and the game’s sound is usually a big key. Meanwhile, the success of many lines introduced by Bally has turned into an incomprehensible mess: modern sites offer more than 50 and sometimes 100 players together – so many that without lights, sounds, and matching events, many casual and advanced players have trouble recognizing them. whether they win or lose.
For gamblers, all sites are based on the same basic psychological principles discovered by B.F. Skinner in 1960. Skinner is famous for his experiments in which he placed pigeons in a box and gave them food pellets when they pressed a lever. But when Skinner changed the box so that the pellets came out on a special machine — a system called variable ratio — the pigeons pressed the lever more often. Thus was born Skinner’s box, which Skinner himself compared to a slot machine.
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