Technology integrated into slot machines finds supporters in Silicon Valley.
The expansion of gambling is, for the most part, tied to the expansion of slot machines. A modern casino, as a rule, makes 70 to 80 percent of its profits from slot machines. Their popularity has been growing since the 1970s. Before that, only 50 percent, or even less, of the casino’s physical area was dedicated to slots. Today, the technical and psychological systems integrated into the machines (including reward and tracking systems) are finding more and more supporters of this technology in Silicon Valley.
At the Bally Technologies plant, we had the opportunity to see in operation a ProWave machine that was designed in mid-2014, a fact evidenced by the 32-inch display that looks more like a modern Samsung TV. According to Bally Technologies, the same games are played 30 to 80 percent longer on curved monitors. We asked.why this is so. “The games look great with an incredibly clear image,” they said. Game designers look for the best ways to make games extremely attractive; they create a system that is simple, but incredibly engaging at the same time, in a slot machine that draws players in without them realizing it by keeping them in an elaborate cycle of risk and rewards so that they stay in the same place for hours on end while their pockets slowly but inevitably become empty. Bally Technologies’ mission, as it turns out, is simple and to quote their words, “Our job is to help the player choose a game.”
The first Slot Machine was invented in Brooklyn in the mid-1800s – it was a cash register-sized machine with common playing cards. To start the game, you had to insert a nickel and push the manipulator. The cards would appear in a small window in random order and the player would win or lose depending on the combinations that appeared in the window. In 1898, Charles Fey turned this simple prototype into the ‘Liberty Bells’ – the first Slot Machine, in the true rise of the word, with 3 reels and coin payouts. Each reel had 10 symbols, giving players 1 chance in 1000 to win the 50-cent Jackpot when 3 Liberty Bells appeared on the reels. The Slot became a hit in bars and became the standard machine in casinos for many years, yet it was not considered a serious game for decades and only as a form of entertainment for the wives of card players. Thus, table games remained dominant in the casinos of that time, while slots were treated as secondary games.
The situation began to change in the 1960s, when Bally Technologies introduced the first electromechanical Slot Machine. The new platform allowed players to bet several coins per spin and the machines could multiply jackpot amounts, as well as offer smaller but more frequent wins. The multi-line system was introduced: along with the classic horizontal line, it was possible to win with diagonal and zigzag lines. The new designs attracted new players to Slots and led to further development of the stagnant industry.
William “Si” Redd, who was in charge of some of these “new projects” at Bally Technologies, played a very important role in this development. “A player comes to win,” he said, “he doesn’t come to play to lose, so give him more, be more liberal. Let him win more but then it will come his turn to speed up the games to get his profit.” In other words, they decreased the volatility of the new Slots so that big wins and big losses became rarer.