Slot Machine With Bonus – You can play a slot machine in Las Vegas before you even get to your luggage: there are mini-slot parlors in every terminal at McCarran International Airport. When you pick up your rental car, you can stop for gas and play at a convenience store. And that’s before you even get to your hotel-casino, which – if it follows modern standards – devotes roughly 80% of its playing field to slots and only 20% to table games.
Bally Technologies, one of the world’s largest slot machine manufacturers, 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 to the company’s showroom to play some games. Compared to the unpleasant sound of the casino floor, Bali’s showroom was practically monastic, the lights low and the room silent, apart from the soothing hum of a dozen hibernating consoles.
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It celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, and the company hopes to relive some of that nostalgia. “That person, that girl who watched every episode
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I sat in front of the unit and Trask touched a logo in the top corner of the screen, selected a box on the screen that guaranteed me a bonus round and told me to hit the spin button. I did, and a version of the show’s theme song played, the NBC crew from my early youth smiled at me, and five iconic rings—a Central Perk decal, a guitar, screenshots of the characters—came down on the screen. . this
Bally assembles all of its machines in a factory warehouse next to its gaming studios and behind its Vegas corporate headquarters. Last year, Scientific Games, Bally’s parent company, released more than 17,000 new units. On my visit, hundreds of freshly assembled slot machine shells, with industry-standard black exteriors and raised dashboards, lined the warehouse walls.
A sticker affixed to each cabinet indicates its destination: Oklahoma, Washington, Michigan, Canada. Only a handful were destined for Vegas casinos, a sign of the game’s national and international expansion. Scientific Games bought Bally last year for $5 billion. At the time, 23 states had legalized gambling, a heavily taxed industry, to quickly boost depleted coffers.
But the expansion of gaming is generally the expansion of slot machines – modern casinos typically make 70-80% of their revenue from slots, a stratospheric increase from the 1970s when slots accounted for 50% or less. New York, the last state to introduce the game, doesn’t even allow table games, and Pennsylvania, now the third largest gaming state in the country behind Nevada and New Jersey, only later allowed table games in an amendment to its law. . And increasingly, psychological and technical systems originally developed for slot machines—including reward programs and tracking systems—have found a following in Silicon Valley.
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At the factory, Trask and I walked past the ProWave cabinet, a design Bally released in mid-2014 that features a 32-inch concave screen, like an even more curved Samsung TV. Placing similar games on curved screens would increase gameplay by 30 to 80 percent, Trask claimed. I asked him why. “That sounds great; it’s incredibly clear,” he said into a tone. Game designers have somehow been accused of tapping into the ineffable appeal of e-goggles—developing a system that’s both simple and endlessly fascinating, a machine to lure and trap players in a precise cycle of risk and reward that keeps them glued to their seats for hours. , their pockets are slowly but inevitably empty. As we stood atop the arcade, Trask told me about the MGM floor, home to 2,500 machines and hundreds of different games. Trask’s mission, as he saw it, was simple: “Our job is to make you pick your game.”
The prototype slot machine was invented in Brooklyn in the mid-1800s – it was a chest-sized contraption and used real playing cards. Inserting a nickel and pressing a lever randomized the cards in a small display window, and depending on the poker hand that appeared, the player could win items from the establishment that housed the machine. In 1898, Charles Fay developed the poker machine into the Liberty Bell machine, the first true three-reel, one-coin-pay slot. Each reel had 10 symbols, giving players a 1 in 1,000 chance of winning the 50 cent jackpot if they lined up three Liberty Bells. The three-reel design was popular in bars and became a casino standard, but for decades, gambling houses saw them as nothing more than a trifle — distractions for the wives of table game players. Accordingly, casinos were filled with table games and slots were relegated to the sidelines.
This change began in the 1960s, when Bally introduced the electromechanical slot machine. The new rig allows players to place multiple coins on a single bet, and the machines can multiply jackpots as well as offer smaller but more frequent wins. Multi-line play was introduced: alongside the classic horizontal combo, players could now win with diagonal and zig-zag combos. New designs sped up gameplay and breathed life into a stagnant industry.
William “C” Redd, a tie-wearing Mississippi bolo who oversaw some of Bali’s new projects of the period, played a role in that renaissance. He said: “The player didn’t come to win, [so] speed it up, give him more, give him more freedom. Let him win more, but then [you make money] still by speeding, because super It was liberal.” In other words, the new machines reduced the slots’ volatility—the gaming term for the frequency with which 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, Red left Bali and founded another game developer, later renamed IGT. IGT specializes in video gambling or video poker machines. Video poker machines can be designed to be less volatile and pay back players a smaller amount on more hands. And the interactive elements of video poker made them more attractive and made them a huge success: people lined up to play the first machines, and the game’s ability to control the player’s full concentration for hours gave it a reputation as the “crack cocaine” of gambling. . .
“If you were to take $100 and play slots, you’d get about an hour of play, but video poker is designed to give you two hours of play for that same $100,” Redd said at the time. The time it took for a poker machine to consume a player’s money.
Redd also patented the Random Number Generator, which computerized the odds calculator behind the spinning reels and allowed game makers to control the volatility. A modern slot machine, at its core, is nothing more than an RNG that spins millions or billions of numbers all the time. When a player hits the spin button, it simply stops the RNG at a certain moment. Everything beyond that—the music, the minigames, the realistic appearance of the spinning reels, Rachel, Monica, and the rest of the gang that accompany you—is window dressing that keeps you spinning.
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IGT now manufactures 93% of the world’s video poker machines and is the largest video slot manufacturer in the world. it
The franchise includes every type of slot machine – reels, curved screens, and massive installations with massive physical flourishes. On a visit to their offices in Las Vegas, I asked Jacob Lanning, IGT’s VP of Product Management, what makes a good game. “If you can figure it out, you’ve got a job,” he said. Trask told me something similar: “If we knew what the perfect game was, we would play that game over and over again.”
No one may have discovered the Platonic ideal of the slot machine, but certain principles underlie most games. First, there’s a vague aesthetic monotony: colors tend toward primary or pastel, use of franchises is mandatory, and game soundtracks are usually in a major key. Meanwhile, the multi-line wins introduced by Bally have become an incomprehensible maze: modern slots offer players more than 50 and sometimes 100 different winning combinations – so much so that without the associated lights, sounds and celebrations, most casual players And even advanced ones can do this combination. They have trouble distinguishing whether they have won or lost.
To keep players gambling, all slots rely on the same basic psychological principles developed by B.F. Skinner was discovered in the 1960s. Skinner is famous for an experiment in which he placed pigeons in a box that gave them a pellet of food when they pressed a lever. But when Skinner modified the box so that the pellets came out on random presses — a system called variable ratio — the pigeons pushed the lever harder. In this way, Skinner’s box was born, which Skinner himself likened to a slot machine.
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