Sigma Derby is Done at MGM Grand

A popular, old-timey horse racing slot machine called Sigma Derby has finally been put down for good at MGM Grand.

Sigma Derby has a passionate following, and until recently, there were just two in Las Vegas (and possibly the country).

And then there was one.

An MGM Grand rep confirmed to us Sigma Derby won’t be back. The company said it has “done everything possible to prolong its active lifespan but that’s simply no longer possible.”

Sigma Derby MGM Grand

MGM Grand’s Sigma Derby was in its Level Up lounge for a minute. Guests were less than whelmed. It was moved back to the main casino floor for the remainder of its life.

That leaves just one Sigma Derby standing, the one at downtown’s The D Las Vegas.

Sigma Derby has built a fan base for a number of reasons.

There’s a communal element to the game, because up to 10 players can join in the fun. The cheering at Sigma Derby is about the only sound louder than a dice table in a Las Vegas casino.

Also, the machines only take quarters, so guests can play for an extended period of time (while enjoying free beverages) for relatively little cost.

The game is easy to understand as well. Players wager on two horses in each race. The horses they pick must finish first and second, in any order.

Sigma Derby

One of the great things about Sigma Derby is, no matter how much you drink, it’s hard to screw up too badly.

Noting the popularity of Sigma Derby, a company called Konami attempted to make an updated version of the mechanical horse racing game, Fortune Cup.

It’s fine. But it’s no Sigma Derby.

While fans of Sigma Derby will bemoan its passing at MGM Grand, we have to believe the casino is relieved to have it off the floor once and for all.

The machines break down frequently, and parts are nearly impossible to get, and many of the parts have to be fabricated from scratch.

Sigma Derby

Sigma Derby isn’t so much a slot machine as a cult.

In addition, casinos have moved away from coins to TITO (ticket in, ticket out) systems because of the cost of labor and maintenance involved.

Sigma Derby

You never know what people will grow attached to. Welcome to Sigma Derby.

It’s unknown how long the sole remaining Sigma Derby might last. The D installed Fortune Cup right next to the classic machine, possibly hoping customers would migrate to the new game so the old version could be retired.

That didn’t happen, and now there’s an additional incentive to keep Sigma Derby around. There’s major P.R. value in being the only game in town.

12 thoughts on “Sigma Derby is Done at MGM Grand

  1. Jeff in OKC

    Wife and I player what must be Fortune Cup at Mirage a few months ago. Found it to be an acceptable substitute. TITO, bill acceptor, video screen, PLUS little plastic horsies ricking around the track. Could be a lot worse.

  2. Geoff

    I remember an episode of Pawn Stars where The D was trying to selling the store the Sigma game.
    They couldn’t agree on a price… or was it just an advertisment for Sigma Derby at The D the whole time?
    Regardless, if not an advertisement, The D is not very emotionally attached to the game and will sell it if they can.

    1. Vegas Insight

      Interesting point. The Brothers Stevens are no fools, they know how to keep their name out there, and keep people coming to their properties. They may not be fans of the game, but given the fact it’s already a draw, and is now the only one in Vegas, unless the machine melts down completely, I gotta believe they’ll keep one of the few working relics of Vegas gambling on the floor as long as possible at this point.

      MGM ought to donate theirs to the Pinball Hall of Fame. It’s not pinball, I know, but when the HOF gets that new on-strip game room open, having a cool coin-operated relic from gambling’s past would be an added draw for the non-pinheads. They already have a few old-style gambling machines that are not pinball in the current museum. (The non-craps game is amazing.)

      1. Joe

        The repair / upkeep cost makes it hard to run it and the Pinball Hall of Fame is not an casino.

        And if the MGM machine did melts down completely then what At least I hope it was not that rom chips when bad and there are no Dumps left.

        1. Vegas Insight

          What, the pinball joint ain’t a casino? No! Alert the media!

          The point of donating it to the HOF is not to run it as a gambling device, but to have it as a display piece. In reality, it’s unlikely an old gambling relic is really going to drive traffic, but if any place is positioned to preserve it as a relic of the past, the HOF would be that place, and they’d have a space to do it.

          While the focus is on playing pinball, having a display of vintage gaming devices would be a nice way to draw non-pinheads to their new storefront when the day comes. Given they have old coin-op devices now that are based upon gambling and are not pinball machines, displaying a relic of yesteryear, a la Sigma Derby, isn’t a stretch.

          It would be nice if it could be run on a demo mode if turned into a display piece, but given the maintenance issues MGM has, that would seem unlikely if it were turned into a museum piece.

  3. Janie lee

    Some of my best memories are with these horses. Very sad to see it go, the digital version is NOT anywhere near as fun or social

    1. GS

      Agree with Janie Lee. I’ve only played 2 years -in the world of Sigma Derby that’s a newbie- and I have great memories and have met some cool people playing it at MGM. Sad to see it go, but I’ll definitely be making the trek down to The D a day or two next week for my mechanical ponies fix.

  4. Michael Hetrick

    Fortune Cup is new…and costs much more to play. In Sigma Derby, you could cover all bets at a minimum of $2.50 a race. In Fortune Cup, it’s at least $9-$10 IIRC. Even a minimum bet is .25 (sigma) oppose to $1 (fortune).

    I was never a Sigma Derby player, but I did like to see it and the crowd surrounding it cheering and laughing. Fortune Cup tries to replicate that, but I don’t think Konami does it justice.

    You can bet that The D will get some traffic in to play it, but if they can make more on something else it will be gone. They will just put more slots there.


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