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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Slot operation require attention to detail

16 April 2008

Fran Miller, the director of slots at Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel, is responsible for monitoring the performance of the machines, as well as continually updating the inventory with new product as well as placing the units so as to derive maximum appeal.

It's a demanding position, especially in a highly competitive market. Miller must keep pace with technology and the change in trends that the new wave of multi-line, multi-coin, multi-denomination slot machines have created.

"High limit play today is different than it was years ago when all of the games could be found in one room," Miller said. "We are seeing a higher average bet on lower denomination games. Today we have a lot of high limit guests playing on the main floor."

There's also the issue of compliance with regulatory controls, something which every casino in the nation takes very seriously. When a problem arises, it must be met with immediate action to the satisfaction of both the state and the casino operator.

Earlier this year, two very popular new slots had to be temporarily removed from the Harrah's slot floor when a minor problem was discovered. The machines in question were the "Wizard of Oz" themed units in WMS Gaming's revolutionary Sensory Immersion gaming experience.

Rob Bone, vice-president of marketing for WMS, told me when I contacted him that there are a lot of different parameters to which slot games are held accountable, and that among the levels of complexity, the problem which was discovered on the Wizard of Oz nickel units at Harrah's was the very lowest and in no way compromised the integrity of the games.

"Illinois, as with all gaming markets, is heavily regulated," Bone said. "What happened was very common protocol in response to a very minor problem. When a change is necessary, the product in question must be pulled from the floor during the re-submission process."

Consistent with Bone's comment that "the domestic performance of Wizard of Oz is the best we've ever seen", not only have the slots been returned to the floor at Harrah's, they've been joined by a third unit to meet public demand for them.

Turning to another area of Miller's responsibility, when a machine (or machines) is eliminated from the inventory and it happens to be a unit which carried a progressive jackpot, the progressive amount that is accrued must be transferred to another game.

That's why when two Monte Carlo and two Cash Wheel themed games were taken out, the just under $51,000 in progressive money on those units was moved to a pair of existing three-coin dollar Five Times Pay linked slots, boosting what had been a roughly $20,000 progressive to over $70,000.

Miller knows that she can't allow the slot inventory at Harrah's Joliet to stagnate, noting: "What is hot today is not necessarily hot tomorrow, and just as we as operators are competitive in the products that we offer, the gaming manufacturers are just as competitive in the products that they're selling to us."

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