A slot machine manufacturer is taking heat over its new “Iron Mike” slot machine, just unveiled at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas.
The controversial new video slot machine, inspired by former boxing champion Mike Tyson, has put Ompax Gaming Technologies (OGT) and its CEO, Philip Neri, in the hotseat for what some critics claim is an attempt to exploit Tyson’s bad behavior and criminal history for profit.
Here’s an exclusive look at the “Iron Mike” slot machine.
The Global Gaming Expo, also known as G2E, is an annual trade show held in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. A slew of new slot machines make their debut at G2E, and this year’s crop included machines inspired by movies (“Austin Powers,” “Gremlins,” “Ted”), television shows (“Sons of Anarchy,” “Wonder Woman,” “Friends,” “Mad Men”) and personalities (Britney Spears, Elton John, Elvis Presley).
However, while numerous slot machines have launched at G2E, the Mike Tyson slot machine seems to have stolen the show, and not necessarily in a good way.
Much of the concern relates to the icons on the slot machine’s virtual reels. Critics have been vocal about their distaste for the inclusion of graphical references to Mike Tyson’s tumultuous past, including a 1992 conviction for rape.
CEO Philip Neri stated, “We are certainly sensitive to the concerns being expressed on the trade show floor. But from our earliest conversations with Mike Tyson, he was clear he didn’t want to shy away from anything. As he bravely did in his one-man show, ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,’ he’s wrestling with his demons, and we applaud him for it, especially given the fact we receive a portion of the revenue generated from this exciting new game coming to casinos very soon.”
A close-up look at the “Iron Mike” slot machine reveals some of the problematic icons used in the game.
Critics of the game have singled out the inclusion of a tiara (a reference to the victim in his rape conviction, a former Miss Black Rhode Island), handcuffs and a Monopoly-style graphic alluding to his Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003.
The Mike Tyson slot machine also integrates images related to his love of pigeons, a tiger (from his cameo in the smash hit, “The Hangover”), Tyson’s former promoter Don King, Tyson’s distinctive tattoo and an injured ear, presumably that of fighter Evander Holyfield.
“We’re hoping people will focus on the fun of this game and how it makes someone who was the heavyweight champion of the world accessible to everyone,” says Ompax Gaming’s CEO. “Mike Tyson is an international brand, much like Coke, although given his 2007 drug conviction, perhaps that’s not the best example.”
Neri continues, “The point is Mike is easily the most-beloved convicted rapist in history, and the ‘Iron Mike’ slot machine brings his colorful personality to life, augmented by the most advanced, crowd-pleasing surround-sound technology available.”
To the credit of OGT, they pulled off a feat not many slot machine makers can: They included a timely reference on the machine’s reels, specifically a cartoon image from Mike Tyson’s new animated series on the Adult Swim cable network, “Mike Tyson Mysteries.”
Most slot machines are woefully outdated by the time they hit the casino floor because of rights and royalty issues. For example, when released, the “Walking Dead” slot machine had characters who had long before met their demise on the TV show.
Impressive, too, are the slot machine’s bonus rounds.
A news release about “Iron Mike” states, “This game-changing new video slot machine boasts unique bonus rounds such as ‘Champ Stamp,’ highlighting Mike Tyson’s iconic facial tattoo, ‘Whack-a-Walters,’ tongue-in-cheek payback for a 1988 interview that caused an international sensation, and ‘DUIOU,’ where players get to choose high-priced attorneys to help make plea agreements while shirking their financial responsibilities.”
Controversy or not, there’s no denying the “Iron Mike” slot machine has made a splash at this year’s Global Gaming Expo.
“We think our casino partners, and players of both genders, but probably mostly men, are going to love this new slot machine,” said OGT’s Philip Neri. “I think we’ve created a game that truly embodies the spirit of Mike Tyson, without being overly rape-y.”
While Neri wouldn’t reveal his company’s next collaboration, rumors have surfaced there could very well be an O.J. Simpson slot machine in the pipeline for 2015. “We can’t confirm that,” said a winking Neri. “But that’s the kind of partnership that would fit our company like a glove.”
The Global Gaming Expo happens through Oct. 2, 2014, so if you get a chance to “get into the ring” with “Iron Mike,” let us know what you think.