March 29, 2004

Atlantic City – Lots of Slots.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:46 pm

I’m back, and I managed to escape Atlantic City without being bloodied too badly. Although I prefer winning, getting out of there making only a modest “deposit” to the coffers of the casino is a good thing.

It has been several years since I visited Atlantic City, and I was taken by the several new gargantuan hotel-casinos that popped up in the interim. However, the contrast between the seedy city and the opulence of the hotels is still stark. I took my morning walk today on the boardwalk, and in the space of about two miles, the gambling palaces are replaced by boarded up apartment buildings and grubby looking motels. On a brighter note, I did see that numerous manufacturers’ outlets have come into the city, possibly even enticing some of the gamblers from the casinos.

The other thing that struck me was the super-sophistication of the state-of-the-art slot machines. For all practical purposes, coins are just about gone from the scene. The machines accept U.S. Currency in denominations between $5.00 and $100.00 and light up with the appropriate number of player’s “credits.”

Most machines take from one to five “coins” (credits) per pull, depending on how much the player wishes to play. However, the mondo prizes require that the maximum number of “coins” (credits) be bet. The machines make betting the maximum number of credits extremely easy by providing a button that automatically makes the maximum wager and instantly sets the wheels spinning. There is also no need to pull the handle to spin the wheels, as another button is available to do that electronically. However, most machines still have the handle as an option for gamblers who mistakenly believe that there is some sort of winning pulling technique.

If a player wins on a particular pull, coins no longer chug out of the machine and clatter satisfyingly in the metal trough. Rather, the machine electronically adds to your available credits. When you have had enough, and you are lucky enough to have credits remaining, you press the “cash out” button, and instead of getting a bunch of coins, the machine prints and delivers unto you a bar-coded voucher that can be taken to a cashier and turned into money. The good/bad news is that vouchers also can be placed into any of the machines as if they were currency.

All these bells and whistles are designed to permit rapid play (and most often rapid loss), and the replacement of coins (real money) with credits tends to make the player less conscious that real money is disappearing as the number of credits is reduced with each pull. In addition, the vouchers that are dispensed also do not have the feel of money, making it more likely that the player will pop the voucher into another machine than would be the case with real money.

The sheer number and variety of these machines is mind-boggling. Conservatively, I would estimate that the casino I was in has several thousand slot machines. What also amazed me is that I never saw a single one that was out of order, despite daily almost round-the-clock usage.

I wish the slot machine folks would go into the car business.

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