Slot Machine For Fun Only – Perla Barragan of San Francisco, Calif., plays a slot machine at the Wheel of Fortune slot at the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Friday, July 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. The Wheel of Fortune slot machine game celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Mayor Carolyn Goodman, left, presents the key to the city to Vanna White for 20 years of “Wheel of Fortune” slots during the G2E convention in 2016. (Courtesy of IGT)
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The Wheel of Fortune slot at the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Friday, July 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. The slot machine game celebrates 25 years this year. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
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Gamblers try their luck at the Wheel of Fortune slot at the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Friday, July 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. The Wheel of Fortune slot machine game celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
A gambler spins a wheel in the Wheel of Fortune slots zone at the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Friday, July 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. The Wheel of Fortune slot machine game celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
A gambler plays at the Wheel of Fortune slot at the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Friday, July 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. The Wheel of Fortune slot machine game celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @ellenschmidttt
Wheel of Fortune co-host and letter-turner Vanna White plays the Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the Global Gaming Expo 2016 trade show. (courtesy of IGT)
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Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, left, presents entertaining Vanna White with the key to the city during the Global Gaming Expo at the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. IGT’s Wheel of Fortune slot machine celebrates 20. anniversary. Review – Journal photo file
The game’s sound effects, tones and songs stripped from the popular TV show are one of the reasons why the popular IGT machine has endured for 25 years.
Starting June 15 and for the next few months until Dec. 1, the company is celebrating “25 Weeks of Lucky Sex,” a silver anniversary celebration for the brand that includes exclusive giveaways on the Wheel Facebook page.
IGT says Wheel of Fortune marks the first licensed slot machine of its kind and is a fan of many themed games featuring iconic movies, TV shows and celebrities.
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And while the Wheel of Fortune has a huge visual impact on the casino floor with 250 different games – some of them in cabinets over 11 feet tall – it’s the sounds they make that seem to keep fans coming back.
“You can’t walk past a casino floor without hearing it,” said Boris Hallerbach, IGT’s director of product management for premium products in Reno. “It’s like games call players.”
That’s the same view as Plaza manager Jonathan Jossel. The city property has a Wheel of Fortune Slots Zone where a mix of different machine variations are grouped together.
“It’s amazing,” said Jossel. “It’s the sound of the game, everyone knows that Wheel of Fortune game noise, whether you hear it at the airport or in the casino. It’s the first sound you hear when you arrive in Las Vegas and the last sound you hear when you leave. It’s almost like Vegas, this Wheel of Fortune song and the sound of those reels. “
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By Hallerbach’s account, it began when former IGT Chairman Charles Mathewson attended an awards dinner and “accidentally” sat next to a Sony Pictures Television executive. During the dinner, they talked about the possibility of cooperation to develop cooperation of the game show in the slot machine.
“Getting an entertainment and television company to consider their content on slot machines was a little difficult,” Hallerbach said. “Sensitivity in how we represent the slot game and experience was important, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves from the TV game and the slot machine.”
While 1996 is recognized as the year the Wheel of Fortune was born, important developments took place a decade earlier that would create the Wheel of Fortune’s greatest success.
IGT introduces extensive progressive jackpots, combining machines from a wide range of jackpots into one prize. IGT introduced the concept with another king of the slot floor, Megabucks.
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Ten years later, Wheel of Fortune would lend itself to a wide-ranging progressive system, ensuring that some of the game’s biggest winners would become millionaires.
The first Wheel of Fortune game that came out didn’t even have a wheel. It was just a three-reeled mechanical-reel nickel slot game with a game-show theme.
Around that time, a small Las Vegas company, Anchor Gaming, had a patented wheel that was suitable for inclusion in the Wheel of Fortune play. Anchor makes slot games, including its Golden Wheel, and casinos operated in Cripple Creek and Black Hawk, Colorado, and a national casino in California. But its greatest contribution to the industry is providing the wheel that made Wheel of Fortune famous.
IGT originally leased the rights to use the wheel. But in 2001, IGT grew into an international presence and acquired Anchor in a stock deal for $1.1 billion, making it, at the time, Nevada’s largest publicly traded company.
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“We used a wheel from Anchor in the system and created a game that combines the Wheel of Fortune brand with IGT’s strong core games like Double Diamond and created something that really struck a chord with players,” said Hallerbach. “It was the first feature in the slots, and people being familiar with the game on TV every night I think they had an instant relationship with the Wheel of Fortune slot game.
With the popularity of the Wheel slot and the rise of the TV game, the IGT network of studios began to create variations of the game that proved to be as popular as the original versions. IGT introduced a video version of The Wheel in 2001.
As technology improves, IGT adds more paylines and mixes in more gaming genres, attracting a wider gaming audience.
In 2006, IGT introduced the “Wheel of Fortune Super Spin,” a vehicle to get more people into the game’s bonus features faster. In 2009, thanks to those progressive jackpots, the Wheel delivered its biggest jackpot of all time, $14.4 million, to a gambler in Biloxi, Mississippi.
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Cabinets and displays have gotten bigger in the game. Some versions have seats for multiple players. Graphics are brighter and more realistic.
When IGT started promoting its 3D screen products in 2016, Vanna White’s TV show met and took pictures with people attending the Global Gaming Expo trade show in Las Vegas that year. He received a ceremonial Key to the City of Las Vegas as part of the celebration.
IGT followed up with the Wheel of Fortune MegaTower, standing over 11 feet tall, in 2017, and in 2018, the company introduced a new virtual reality game, 4D virtual reality, where game objects seem to jump off the video screen and onto the player’s lap. .
A total of 250 different games are offered, and today players can sit down and play while the voices of the army Pat Sajak and assistant and letter-turner White collaborate with them. Players can hear Jim Thornton, the television show host.
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For proprietary reasons, IGT officials will not say how many Wheel of Fortune games are installed on casino floors across North America where the game is popular, but Nick Khin, IGT’s chief gaming officer, said it is in the thousands.
“The actors are very loyal to the production; they trust the game because it is old in casino standards,” said Khin. “They’re comfortable with it, and a lot of players have a relationship with the game that goes back a long time. Players will come to the casino looking for this game. “
The sounds, progressive jackpots and familiarity of the game have enabled Wheel of Fortune to develop a diverse player base.
Another way IGT keeps the Wheel in front of people is through lottery tickets. IGT is one of the world’s largest operators of lottery games. In the United States, the company sells lottery tickets in 25 states. West of the Mississippi River, they can be purchased in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and Texas.
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Perhaps the most famous Wheel of Fortune slot machine in the country is social media influencer Brian Christopher, a Toronto actor who moved to Southern California to try to make it in Hollywood and ended up becoming a YouTube sensation.
“One day, I posted a few funny gambling videos of myself, and those videos ended up going viral,” Christopher said of the birth of bcslots.com and his company, BC Slots.
Christopher travels the country, mostly in the Southwest, and comes to Las Vegas several times a year, making YouTube videos of himself playing and explaining slot machines.
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