Category Archives: Slot Machines

Five Great New Slots, Three Awful Ones and a Peek Into the Future of Casinos at Global Gaming Expo

This year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E), a casino industry trade show, in Las Vegas seemed short on surprises and long on “same old, same old.”

Yes, new slots are getting bigger (see below), brighter and more clever (bet $2, win $1.25, still feels like you’re winning), but one can’t escape the feeling it’s more of the same, despite the decline in revenue generated from slot play.

Batman slot machine

The screen on the updated Batman slot is so massive, it caused us to feel disoriented and nauseated. We’ll stick to the current version, thanks.

Still, there were bright spots, and here are five new slots coming to a casino near you we can’t wait to play. Oh, and three that are mind-numbingly stupid, but don’t skip ahead.

1. The Simpsons

The new Simpsons video slot machine was easily the most popular at this year’s Global Gaming Expo. The show’s been on so long, there are generations of fans ready to try their luck.

Simpsons slot machine

“The Simpsons” has been on a staggering 27 seasons.

2. Caddyshack

“Caddyshack” holds a special place in the hearts of movie-goers, and now they can revisit the inspired lunacy of this 1980 classic. Bonus rounds based on your favorite scenes from the movie will bring back memories of a time when feature films actually had scripts.

Caddyshack slot machine

“There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and hit the ‘Max Bet’ button.”

3. Breaking Bad

Any show that good has to make for a memorable slot machine. Clips from the AMC crime drama play while you build your drug empire.

Breaking Bad slot machine

For the record, ultra-pure meth would be clear or white, not blue. Then again, it’s a slot machine, not a chemistry test.

4. Ted

We’ve waited long enough for a slot machine based upon “Ted,” the story of a foul-mouthed Teddy bear brought to life. Game play involves lots of highlights from the film, including an appearance by Sam J. Jones, star of “Flash Gordon.”

Ted slot machine

We’re pretty sure this slot made its debut at last year’s G2E, but hey, it’s new to us.

5. Monty Python and The Holy Grail

In another blast from the past, it’s the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” slot. From what we could tell, the twisted humor from “Holy Grail” translates nicely into the slot machine format, and the words “Killer Bunny” means the slot maker, IGT, didn’t shy away from the juicier bits.

Holy Grail slot machine

They used coconuts in the film because they couldn’t afford actual horses.

Oh, all right, one runner-up. The “Game of Thrones” was getting some pretty good buzz on the trade show floor, too.

Game of Thrones

We’re looking forward to playing the “Who the hell can keep all these plot lines straight?” bonus.

And now for the worst of the worst of the slot machines in display at the Global Gaming Expo. It’s all subjective, of course, but we just happen to be right most of the time, so fair warning.

1. Dumb and Dumber

The name of the slot sort of nails our feelings about this slot machine based upon the original “Dumb and Dumber” movie.

Dumb and Dumber slot

Same question we asked about the “Dumb and Dumber” sequel: “Why?”

2. Cher

Why are they thinking is the audience for a Cher-inspired slot machine? This game could be the best evidence yet that the slot machine industry is completely out of new ideas.

Cher slot machine

Cher made $60 million for her three-year residency at Caesars Palace.

3. TMZ

There’s a new slot machine based upon TMZ (the celebrity news TV show). And, no, this isn’t a joke we mocked up in Photoshop. If there could ever be a dumber idea for a slot machine than one actually called “Dumb and Dumber,” this would be that.

TMZ slot machine

Because the slot machine called “Bottom-Feeders” failed to impress focus groups.

Now, before we leave G2E, we should note the fact there was another bright spot. Specifically, the Gamblit Gaming booth.

Gamblit seems to be on the leading edge of the much-talked-about prospect of slot machines becoming more skill-based, interactive and social. In Las Vegas, Downtown Grand is among the first to partner with Gamblit Gaming, and new games should be appearing in Las Vegas casinos in early to mid-2016.

Gamblit

An oasis of what’s next at G2E.

Gamblit’s booth was bustling throughout our visit to G2E, and attendees seemed to find their games irresistible.

Most notable was Grab Poker. The game is played by four people on what amounts to a large touch screen.

Grab Poker

Get ready for a new addiction.

It’s a fast-paced game, and definitely skill-based. Players “grab” cards from the center of the console to build a poker hand. The winning hand wins the pot (less a commission for the casino, of course).

Unfortunately, no video was allowed, so we’re unable to show you the video we took, below.

Virtually all of the new interactive casino games had social media elements built into them, because social media is, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, the cause of and answer to all of life’s problems.

Whether such games are truly the future of casinos remains to be seen, but experts in the field of casino gambling feel it’s a direction worth exploring.

In the meantime, we’ll stick to our favorite slot machine, Top Dollar. You know, the one that’s interactive (you push buttons), has skill-based bonus rounds, and which we occasionally play with a friend, you know, socially.

Mirage Las Vegas Tests Comped Drink Voucher System and Everything is Ruined

Seriously, Mirage, are you trying to make this blog’s head explode?

We recently sidled up to the Mirage’s Lobby Bar (yes, we’ve been known to sidle) and slipped $20 into a video poker machine. A very friendly bartender immediately took our order and comped our Captain and diet. (Yes, Captain Morgan from a bottle, not a gun. Long story.)

Mirage Lobby Bar

It’s actually called Lobby Bar. Because naming things is hard.

Here’s where things went exponentially south.

See, the Mirage is testing a new system for monitoring and dispensing comped drinks. Free drinks, of course, are one of the most hallowed of all Las Vegas casino traditions, despite recent trends where casinos swap out liquor brands without informing customers, but that’s a rant for a different time.

As with most casino bars, you’re comped your first drink at Mirage’s Lobby Bar, as long as you put at least $20 in the machine. After that, however, you have to earn your drinks, and the decision as to whether you’ve played enough to earn a comp is no longer in the hands of your bartender.

That’s right, your video poker machine decides when you deserve another drink. Not a person. Mirage now employs cocktail-deciding robots from Hell.

How often you earn a comp depends upon several factors. The denomination you’re playing is a key factor. We played quarters, but a higher denomination game spits out drink vouchers more frequently, allegedly.

Mirage Vegas comp drink voucher

“We gave our lives for this abomination?” ~Trees

Also, your length of play is part of the comped drink calculation. Take any kind of break while you’re playing (to Tweet or converse with a friend) and your comp is delayed further.

Brace yourself.

After our first free drink, we played more than an hour (one hour and five minutes, to be exact, with a couple of five minute breaks in play) before we got a voucher for another comped drink. In other words, an eternity in drinking years.

Yes, this happened in Las Vegas. The one in America.

It’s worth noting your drink voucher is valid for 24 hours from the time it’s issued. Big, meet whoop.

Not surprisingly, this new system is universally loathed, not just by customers, but also by bartenders.

Imagine being a Vegas bartender faced with customers who are gambling (holding up their end of the player-casino bargain), and you can’t serve a drink because a machine hasn’t deemed your customer worthy of one. Let the disgruntlement begin, assuming that’s an actual word.

Now, granted, most casinos have standing policies about how much you need to play to get comped drinks.

Bartenders know how much you’re playing, and they have some discretion as to when your next comped drink is allowed. Not at the Lobby Bar at Mirage. And it’s just a matter of time before this virus infects other casino bars, mark our words.

The drink voucher system at Mirage, if allowed to expand to other Mirage casino bars, or other resorts in the MGM Resorts family, is the beginning of the end of comped cocktails in Las Vegas as we know them.

Now, the good news! The video poker machines at the Mirage Lobby Bar are flipping loose. While waiting the hour for our second cocktail, we nailed two four-of-a-kinds and won more than $200. Suck it, The Man.

Video poker four aces

Mojo is the best revenge.

This comped drink voucher system has flown under the radar in Las Vegas, and we can only hope it goes the way of other short-lived, ill-considered penny-pinching strategies.

As with any misguided Las Vegas experiments, the best way to make sure it dies is to vote with your dollars. Ask your bartender if they’re on the voucher system, and if so, take your business somewhere else. You deserve better for your gambling spend.

Update (1/25/16): If you loathe the voucher system at Mirage, your brain’s going to explode when you see the Red Light, Green Light comp drink system at Caesars Palace.

Riviera Slot Machines Get Second Life at The D Las Vegas as Vintage Vegas Floor Goes Ticket-In, Ticket Out

If you’re missing the now-closed Riviera, you’re in luck. The D Las Vegas has integrated dozens of Riviera slot machines into its Vintage Vegas floor, while phasing out its coin machines.

The D Las Vegas

The Vintage Vegas floor at The D is also the Vue Bar floor, or as we like to call it, our home away from home.

Ever since The D purchased more than 850 Riviera slot machines back in June, the downtown casino (formerly Fitzgerald’s) has been swapping out 15-20 per week with existing machines on its second floor, a floor devoted to classic machines.

Now, the only coin-operated slot machine at The D is the popular Sigma Derby.

Sigma Derby

When you play Sigma Derby, you don’t just win money, you win lifelong friends. Which we should totally trademark.

The move to TITO (ticket-in, ticket-out) means The D’s second floor cage will be dismantled, and coin redemption from Sigma Derby will be handled in the casino’s main cage, downstairs.

The D Las Vegas

It’s curtains for The D’s second floor cage.

The integration of the Riviera’s machines means a greater variety of games for players, and far fewer headaches for The D.

There’s a long list of reasons most Las Vegas casinos don’t offer coin-operated machines. Some of the reasons are obvious, others are a little more technical.

The owner of The D Las Vegas, Derek Stevens, says, “The games from the Riv had some advantages over the machines we previously had on the second floor. For example, many of the games at The D previously wouldn’t accept the new $5 or $20 bill. There wasn’t any ability to fix this problem, as the bill validator manufacturer for those machines had long since gone out of business, and those slot machines couldn’t run without that specific type of bill validator. It forced us to keep ‘old’ bills in our cages and slot techs with wallets of old bills to swap out for new bills from customers.”

The technical term in casino parlance is “huge pain in the ass.”

The D

We have personally found those Wheel of Fortune machines on the right to be very loose. Especially after a couple of cocktails.

Stevens comments, “I decided to keep the Vintage Vegas theme, but just change the games out so all the games have TITO and bill validators that not only work but also have the ability to detect counterfeits, something that has become epidemic over the last 3-4 months. In some cases, we replaced old machines with older machines, but with the necessary TITO and bill validators.”

It goes without saying the cost of maintaining a coin-operated slot floor is far more expensive than having non-coin machines. Although we just said it, so perhaps it doesn’t go without saying after all.

While there’s a certain charm to grime-covered hands and the “clink” of coins falling into a “hopper,” it can get old. There are still a few spots in Las Vegas where you can play coins, but the demand for such machines is fading fast.

Derek Stevens says he’s seen the demand for coin-operated slots dwindling, especially within the last five years.

The D Las Vegas

“We don’t need your validation!” scream the bills. Um, wrong.

Overall, about 200 slot machines from the Riviera have been placed on the casino floor at The D and its sister casino, Golden Gate.

The second floor of The D is a great place to get intimate with the history of Las Vegas. If your hands are feeling too clean, bust open some rolls of quarters and bet on your favorite Sigma Derby horse. Otherwise, give a former Riviera slot machine a try.

And before you do any of that, rub the casino’s Blarney Stone. Long story.

Full disclosure: The D Las Vegas is a member of the Fremont Street Experience family of casinos. We work at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions remain our own.

Downtown Grand Offers “Rebate” of $1,000 in Slot Losses

Downtown Grand appears to be getting serious about making its floundering casino a success. The casino is offering to “rebate” up to $1,000 in slot losses.

The shiny new promotion at Downtown Grand is similar to other rebate offers, including previous reimbursement programs at the now-closed Riviera and the Palms. Other Vegas casinos have also offered rebates as well, for smaller amounts, including The Trop and Cosmo.

The Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate offer is so new, they don’t even have the brochures printed up yet. But they do have these signs dangling from slot machines throughout the casino.

Downtown Grand $1,000 rebate

Believe everything you read?

The sign above is significant in that: 1) you can lose, actually, 2) you don’t actually get a grand from the Grand, and 3) it’s not a rebate, per se. But other than that, it’s on point.

Here’s the way it works.

The promotion is for new loyalty club sign-ups only. Hey, everything in Vegas has small print!

The offer covers losses up to $1,000 within the first 24 hours of signing up for the loyalty club. By “covers,” though, we don’t mean you get your losses back. You do, however, get free slot play equivalent to what you lost. Except you don’t get your “rebate” all at once.

If you live in Las Vegas, you get half the value of your losses right away, then 25% a week later (the Monday following your membership sign-up), and the remaining 25% a week after that (again, the following Monday).

If you don’t live in Vegas, they change up the payback schedule a bit. You still get your 50% in play right away, but the window to get the rest of your play is three months.

The idea here is Downtown Grand wants you to visit again, preferably multiple times, as all casinos do. Staggering your “rebate” gets you back in the casino.

As long as you know what you’re in for, this is a perfectly good way to see some additional play for your investment.

The ideal scenario, of course, is to win, which means you get to bypass the rebate process altogether. Win big enough and you can buy the Downtown Grand outright and you get to make up the promotions.

Stranger things have happened in Las Vegas. Some of them in our pants.

Thanks to our friends at Las Vegas Advisor for the tip about this new promotion. The Downtown Grand’s $1,000 rebate promotion will run through the end of 2015.

Woman Wins $1.3 Million Jackpot, Fellow Players to Pretend to Be Happy For Her

A Las Vegas woman has won an eye-popping $1.3 million slot machine jackpot at Aliante casino, sparking an outpouring of feigned enthusiasm for her good fortune.

Lisa Schmitz’s exact win on April 25, 2015 was $1,273,260.29.

Aliante jackpot winner

Schmitz hit it big while playing a $1 Wheel of Fortune machine. The win was met with cheers, approximately none of which were heartfelt.

Onlookers at the scene of the jackpot win reported being overcome with a deep sense of envy about the windfall, but witnesses immediately “put on a happy face” as is the custom with large Las Vegas jackpots.

As word spread of the progressive win, legions of slot players shared the news while adeptly sublimating their deep-seated feelings of resentment.

“It’s not like I’m the only one who feels this way,” said one longtime gambler, “We’re all going through the motions, but screw her. Should’ve been me.”

The sentiment has also been echoed by casino employees, many of whom live on subsistence-level wages.

A dishwasher in the Aliante’s cafe, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “Imagine working for next to nothing in a place where these lucky bastards stroll out with over-sized checks all the time. Who needs a giant check like that? It’s gloating. So, you learn to fake being excited for them. You should see the slot attendants and cocktail waitresses, they’re masters at it. Of course, then they’ll go home and punch their kid’s stuffed unicorn in the face.”

Wheel of Fortune

Said one Wheel of Fortune regular, “Six years of playing and my biggest jackpot was $69. Couldn’t be happier for her.”

The practice of pretending to be happy for large jackpot winners is not limited to gambling, of course.

“Synthetic happiness,” as it has been called by Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, can result from being told an undeserving co-worker is promoted or that a friend one hasn’t talked to since high school has gotten engaged.

Gambling wins, however, seem to generate the greatest sense of umbrage.

Another slot player put it this way, “The bottom line is I deserve to win more than this woman. But you go along and act thrilled that somebody, anybody, won. It’s an unspoken rule. Manufactured, begrudging enthusiasm is the glue that holds us together as gamblers and as a society. So, yeah, I’m super happy for the winner Aliante! And I can’t wait to get home so I can share the news with my kid and his stuffed unicorn.”

The Whole Lion’s Share Thing Was a Bit of a Sham

We’re feeling a little duped at the moment. Thanks a lot, Lion’s Share.

Anyone familiar with the lore surrounding the famed Lion’s Share slot machine, formerly at MGM Grand, is aware of these “facts”:

1) The Lion’s Share slot machine was a hold-over from an earlier time in Las Vegas, and there was just one Lion’s Share left on the casino floor for years. 2) The machine’s biggest jackpot had never hit during its decades of operation. 3) The winner of the progressive jackpot would get to keep the machine. 4) Gaming regulations mandated that the machine not be removed from the casino floor until the progressive jackpot hit.

Lion's Share slot machine

All pay-outs on the Lion’s Share slot were done by hand, providing even more allure.

Those things made the Lion’s Share machine legendary, at least to Las Vegas enthusiasts, and irresistible. Surprisingly, though, not all those things are true.

Come to find out, the bit about the Lion’s Share machine having to pay off before the machine could be taken off the casino floor was, as they say in the casino industry, unmitigated hooey. Bunk. Hogwash. Malarkey. And several other words people actually still use.

If you delve into the gaming regulations (and trust us, it’s lively reading), you discover a jackpot on a slot machine can be transferred by the casino to another machine at any time. Sad trombone.

This pretty much crushes one of the aspects of Lion’s Share that made it such a draw, and the subject of worldwide news when the jackpot finally hit for $2.4 million on Aug. 22, 2014.

Lion's Share

We Photoshopped this photo. See, the truth doesn’t hurt as much if you know about it up front.

Yep, the specific gaming regulations involved here are in the Operation of Gaming Establishments, section 5.110, “In-House Progressive Payoff Schedules.”

The regulations talk about the logistics of how a progressive jackpot can be transferred to a different machine. No, it doesn’t have to be the same kind.

There are some requirements, of course, including that the jackpot has to go to another machine where the new machine “does not require that more money be played on a single play to win the payoff schedule than the game or slot machine from which the incremental amount is distributed.” Which is a fancy way of saying you can’t move a jackpot from a $1 coin machine with a two coin max bet to a $5 machine with a three coin max bet, because players would have to spend more to get the jackpot than they would have on the original machine.

The bottom line is that a key part of the mythology around the Lion’s Share slot machine was just that, myth. Endless news stories were written before and after the jackpot hit, and as far as we can tell, nobody thought to ask if the jackpot had to hit on that specific machine. It just made a better story if we thought it did. (This Las Vegas blog fell for it, hook, line and ATM withdrawal.)

Lion's Share

This was the jackpot the last time we played. Missed it by THAT much.

As the popularity of the Lion’s Share machine spread, MGM Grand did nothing to dispel the myth because the machine made a metric ass-ton more money because of the mystique surrounding it. MGM Grand isn’t in the myth-dispelling business, it’s in the money business. And business at the Lion’s Share machine was good, for a very long time.

The mistaken belief the Lion’s Share jackpot had to hit on that machine created a sense of urgency (it’s known as the “gambler’s fallacy”), and a windfall for MGM Grand. An MGM casino executive estimated the Lion’s Share machine was played five times more than the average slot machine on MGM Grand’s casino floor.

As with so many things in Las Vegas, not everything is as it seems at first glance. Remember, “caveat aleator,” or let the gambler beware.