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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Are Traditional Slots in Danger of Extinction?

21 March 2007

Walk into any casino in the country today and you'll find a gaming floor that's dominated by slots that bear little resemblance to the machines that were there a decade and more ago.

Handles have long since been rendered window dressing by push-button play, drop-in coin slots were covered up once ticket-in/ticket-out technology was introduced, and the enticing jingle-jangle of tokens cascading into trays has been replaced with electronically generated noise.

Three-reel spinning games such as International Game Technology's Double Diamond, Triple Diamond, and Red, White & Blue 7's, and Bally's Blazing 7's, among others, once upon a time were the essence of what playing slots was all about.

They're still around, but today the old stalwarts are overshadowed by a sea of video slots in a wide variety of entertaining themes available in penny, two-cent, three-cent and nickel formats in which multi-line/multi-coin capabilities make it possible to bet upwards of five dollars on every spin.

Making an ever-increasing presence as well are multiple-reel spinning slots available in low-denomination play.

The hand writing is on casino walls. Little energy is devoted to developing new 3-reel product lines. The accent is on four and five-reel spinners with bonus features, multiple pay lines and tiered progressives. How soon will it be before your favorite two-coin dollar Double Diamond machine becomes extinct?

"Ultimately that will be a decision borne out by the player," said Ed Rogich, vice president of marketing for International Game Technology (IGT). "We don't see any quick change, although it may slowly evolve to a more video world."

The demand for reel-spinning slots continues, but the new games that are being introduced reflect a trend away from the 3-reel spinners, which ultimately means once the games in those formats have run their course they'll not be replaced with like versions.

"What you're seeing today is an expansion of products related to reel-spinning slots to identify this new player segment that prefers more visible reels," Rogich said. "You're seeing an adaptation of themes like Double Diamond to five-reel spinning slots. We're also seeing success with straight four-reel line-up combinations and the expansion of bonuses that you traditionally see in video slots."

Even though IGT slots are equipped with multi-denomination capabilities, some of the other manufacturers offer games only in one denomination. This helps preserve the casino floor dynamic of offering games in dedicated amounts, but my guess is that traditional reel-spinning dollar slots are an endangered species.

Casino operators know that players in ever-increasing numbers are wagering dollars per spin on penny games that have a higher "hold" (casino win) than dedicated quarter, half-dollar and dollar games. Gamblers identified as "dollar players" are beginning to earn that reputation playing penny and nickel games.

Gaming industry dynamics as they apply to slot machine play have changed dramatically, not necessarily to the benefit of players but certainly to increased profitability for casino owners.

CASINO NEWS: The "$1 Million Match Up" promotion at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin is off and running every Thursday through April 5.Twelve Club Victoria players club members will be randomly selected at 2 pm, 6 pm and 9 pm drawings each day of the contest for a chance to win $1 million or other cash prizes. Winners must be present. Visit www.grandvictoriacasino.com for details.

The Women's Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) Great Lakes Classic, featuring the finest female pool players in the world, comes to the Blue Chip Casino Hotel in Michigan City, Indiana for a four-day competition March 22 - 25. ESPN will cover the event and tape the semi-finals and final match for future telecast. Tickets for each day of the competition are now on sale at Blue Chip's gift shop or by calling 888-879-7711, Ext. 3608.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp