“Deposit, click, pull, spin, bells, lights, wait, patience, one, two, three…repeat… again…”
The humming song of the one-arm bandit – the slot machine. How far gambling has come (and not!) Some things have changed dramatically with on-line gambling and even virtual slot machines, now almost as comfortable, accessible and acceptable as watching television, flooding search engines and alive and well through pop-ups and other electronic marketing media – other gambling icons have stayed hauntingly the same, or at least so it appears, including the presence of slot machines on the traditional gambling scene.
But are slot machines the same enablers of the games of chance and fate as they have always been? Devices delivering on the need for entertainment, leisure, fun and pleasure, indulgence and the ever-popular promise of spending a little (or a lot) to win it BIG! Promises of easy money. The buzz, glitter, lights, spinning, celebratory, cheerful sounds of the timeless slot machine. Alluring, elusive, insistent and … still very popular. To the point then, modern-day slot machines are distinctly different – most, like the Megabucks and other slot machines, are now networked and digital, so appearances may be “deceiving” as complex programming and algorithms now throws the dice of change and smiles on lady luck so to speak in the background. The Megabucks Slot Machine as stated is no exception here. This one-armed bandit-like showpiece is not just suddenly ambidextrous; it is a multitasking, multiple-games-in-one gambling machine. The new technologies have changed the way people win and lose on slot machines and have led to the networking that produces huge jackpots. Technological advances are here to stay. They are part of the march from mechanical to electro-mechanical, then to circuit boards and high-speed microprocessors – setting the machine up so that people will play often enough because of frequent/regular payouts while still making lots of money for the casinos and gaming industry!
Before the computer era, slot machines featured spinning reels, usually three, seen through a window. A player would insert a coin, pull the machine’s handle to start the reels spinning and hope that when they stopped, the symbols painted on the reels would line up in a winning combination. If they did, the player received some or all of the coins that had been placed into the machine. The odds of winning were determined by the number of reels in the machine and the number of symbols on each reel. This is now al done by computer chip and regulated and regularly inspected for programming irregularities and/or tampering. The Megabucks slot machines, for example, are wired on closed networks like private Internets (riverboat-based versions of the game can use wireless network connections) so they can communicate with other slot machines offering the same game. In Nevada, for instance, Megabucks is played statewide on a network of about 700 linked slot machines in 133 locations. Every time a player in Nevada drops a dollar into a Megabucks slot machine, about six cents of that dollar is added to a special running jackpot figure posted simultaneously at the casinos where slot machine players can see it. In effect making MEGA-WINNINGS come to life.
IGT has clearly sought to up the ante by launching several versions of the Wheel of Fortune one-armed bandits. The new video slot featuring actual clips of TV show hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White guide players through the action of the game promise hours of fun for the adventurous and/or die-hard fan.