How People Started Sitting at Slot Machines in Casinos

For the longest time, slot machines were the red-headed stepchild of casino gambling. They were the thing casinos had to offer to keep the wives of table games players (“real gamblers”) occupied.

It may sound absurd now, but in the early days of casino slot machines, players stood while they played. Which sucked in a number of ways.

Slot machines

Back in the day, everyone stood at slot machines. Probably because Top Dollar and Wheel of Fortune hadn’t been invented yet.

It’s believed a major turning point in how slot machines are played came about because of our human need to urinate. See, after feeding a slot machine for a period of time, players didn’t want to leave a machine to use the restroom for fear of losing their impending jackpot to another player.

Clever players began stealing chairs from nearby table games and took to leaning them against the slots to save their spot. This is a practice that continues today, despite it being incredibly annoying.

Slot machine leaning chair

On the Annoyance Scale, this is right up there with resort fees and cigars. Just stop.

It didn’t take long for customers to use the chairs to sit and play, thus changing the culture of slot machine play forever. Today’s slot machine chairs are plush and ergonomic, and many feature sophisticated sound systems and vibration functions to keep players engaged and entertained.

The folks at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas claim they know the exact moment the practice of sitting at slot machines began.

In 1956, the Birdcage Casino opened at the corner of 1st Street and Fremont. The casino began offering customers a 10-cent keno slot, and the machines started raking it in. In response, Binion’s offered its own bank of 10-cent keno slot machines to compete with its neighbor.

It was inside Binion’s the practice of sitting down at slot machines began.

Today, slot machines account for as much as 85% of a casino’s revenue. One of the biggest measures of a machine’s profitability is known as “Time on Device,” or TOD, or the average time a gambler spends on a given slot machine.

Suffice to say, “Time on Device” has been increased immeasurably by the fact customers sit as they play.

Here’s another fun fact about Binion’s: It was the first downtown casino to get carpeting. How’d that happen? Presumably, a gambler ran up some debt with the casino’s owner at the time, Benny Binion, and repaid his debt by carpeting the joint.

Now you know!

10 thoughts on “How People Started Sitting at Slot Machines in Casinos

  1. Todd Sterling

    I agree interesting read. Won’t be long until they have massaging,reclining seats to draw ever last dime from our wallets

  2. BC

    The title of this piece is making my OCD kick in. It’s “started”, not “starting”. Thinking of asking for a refund of my subscription fee. Seriously though, another interesting read from VV.

  3. Wolfdog

    Right On, about the chair-leaning. Never had a problem getting a host, or such, to hold it for me. And no tip accepted.
    Hell, they’d certainly rather hold it for me, than me leaning the chair, then deciding not to return.

  4. Raphael

    Thank you for this wonderful story.

    But I really get annoyed by this leaning chairs.
    In my country, Switzerland, some people do this and play on a other row on machines (up to 8) on automatic play. Horrible!

    Is it considered to be okay to talk to a slot manager about this behavior?

  5. Lacy

    Most casinos are against leaning chairs on the machines. They are so elaborate now that the chair can actually damage the machine. Not to mention it is a safty hazard. You can definitely talk to a casino host or manager about the chairs. I would never lean a chair to hold my spot for fear someone would take it anyway. Always ask a host/attendant to hold your machine while in the restroom. Tips are always welcome when they comply but not expected!! 🙂


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