To some, a slot machine is just a slot machine. But to true aficionados, it is more than a collection of buttons to push or handles to pull, triggering blinking lights, peppy melodies and rapidly spinning bars of fruit, stars, bells and numbers. It is an unconquered goal that won’t be satisfied until a payout occurs, and a dream of a big jackpot.
Helping such players seize victory (or at least have a smashing good time) are a collection of add-on products and equipment, which singly or collectively can make a night of gaming a more perfect experience. Such products follow players through the entire visit.
Slots floors in some casinos can be expansive areas, so players may have to walk around a bit to find favorite games. Casinos can save their customers shoe leather – and lengthen their playing time – by adding signs and slot toppers that serve as beacons directing them to their desired destinations.
Edge-lit signs from Carmanah Signs of Calgary, Canada, are illuminated by low-energy-using LEDs (light-emitting diodes) can be used to identify games by title, if it’s a “hot new game,” the cost to play, and if the machine takes currency or player cards.
Carmanah slot machine signs and slot toppers come in single and double-sided models that easily attach to machines. They can be made in almost any size and shape, with Carmanah custom engraving the most intricate of casino logos and designs into the acrylic backplates. These signs can provide steady, color-changing or flashing messages that are not only is eye-catching, but can be easily seen from across the room. With the slot toppers, new acrylic faces (for price changes or revisions in promotional campaigns) can be ordered independent of the illumination bases.
Once at the slots or video poker machine of choice, how long a customers plays can be determined by how comfortable the chair or stool before it is. There is today a selection of ergonomic chairs that caress yet support the human body that are especially tailored for the slots environment.
“While table game chairs are uniformly 27 inches in height, slots chairs should be matched to the type of cabinet housing the game,” said Bob Yabroff, president of Gary Platt Manufacturing, based in Reno. “For slant machines, the most comfortable chair or stool height is 22 inches, but with upright cabinets the ideal height is 24 inches.”
The right chair doesn’t necessarily stay on the same place on the slots floor. Some players like to move chairs to different machines, feeling if it brought them luck at one machine it will work its magic at another, or some other reason. Later players may thus unknowingly find themselves playing in the wrong type chair for the machine.
So Platt has introduced slots chairs and stools that adjust in height just like office chairs. Players can thus set them where they personally feel most comfortable rather than rely on the averages, Yabroff said. This feature can be especially helpful on slots floors where slots stands are being shortened slightly so players get a better view of the entire slots floor as they play, he added.
As with its table game chairs, Platt’s X-Tended Play Slots Seats feature player-coddling contoured seats and backrest of soft yet sturdy foam, with built-in lumbar supports. These four-legged chairs are offered in a dozen shapes and colors to match any casino décor, Yabroff said.
As players enjoy the game, feeding the machine to make play possible needs to be accessible and easy. And there are several ways to do this while retaining the security casinos need to thwart the unscrupulous.
Once synonymous with the casino experience, slots tokens are rapidly being nudged aside by tickets and other forms of cashless gaming systems. But pockets of token use survive.
“Some tribal casinos in California and the Rocky Mountain states still use $1 tokens in a few of their slot machines, essentially because none of the recent attempts at dollar coins have taken hold,” said Ray Castro, gaming coordinator at Osborne Coinage, based in Cincinnati. “Some high-roller rooms also use $100 and $500 tokens. But most of the casinos still using tokens are in foreign markets.”
For casinos still using tokens, Osborne offers X-Mark tokens made from secure alloys with optically code faces that machines equipped with Xceptor electronic readers will accept while rejecting all others as counterfeits or slugs. Tokens can be made in almost any denomination from any design submitted by the casino. In addition to standard metal colors, Osborne also offer CoinCraft tokens colorized in red, blue, green and gold, which casinos can use to specify the token’s use in certain machines, Castro explained.
While the clatter of coins is rapidly disappearing from casinos (except for slots that play a recording of coins falling into a tray after wins), many slots still accept banknotes to build a bank of wagering credits when customers first begin playing. And manufacturers are focused on assuring no glitches interrupt the fun, while ensuring currency accepted is valid.
CashCode, part of the Crane Payment Solutions group, is the designer of what it calls the first true multi-width front-loading bill validator.
CashCode’s gaming industry products include features such as self-centering transport guides, modular components, and easy-to-upgrade firmware and currency software.
CashCode’s newest generation of FrontLoad validators is designed to deliver improved performance, a high acceptance rate and incremental increases in revenue for casino operators, according to the company.
JCM’s New Generation UBA bill validators offer improved sensing technology that makes use of magnetic and optical sensors to verify that a banknote is legit and not counterfeit. Optical sensors subject the bill for infrared light, red and green LEDs, phototransistors and ultraviolet light before letting it pass and adding the cash credits to a player’s bank.
An automatic centering mechanism also pulls bills up the middle of the device to assure proper scanning, while an automatic retry feature will rescan a banknote up to three times before rejecting it, thus greatly increasing the acceptance rate. Software in UBA validators can be upgraded (such as when the United States changes the design of its banknotes) through a USB port, thus eliminating the need to remove the validator from the machine. The validator’s high-impact plastic cash box holds up to 500 banknotes.
To assure optimal performance of its bill validators (and thus not interrupt or prevent play), JCM offers the Waffletechnology Cleaning System to clean critical validation and transport functions. The system employs a flexible cleaning card that expands like an accordion inside the validator to reach all top and bottom surfaces, thus thoroughly wiping them clean as the card passes through.
Payouts on modern machines are usually made on bar-coded tickets that can be redeemed at cashier’s cages or special kiosks, or re-input into other slot machines as the starting bank of credits through ticket-in/ticket-out or TITO technology.
Glendale, Calif.-based FutureLogic Inc.offers a broad selection of thermal printers that can be retrofit into slot machines to produce clear and legible tickets signifying the amount of the cash-out.
FutureLogic’s two latest thermal printers are the GEN2 Universal for use in regular slots and the GEN2 VST Universal for use in space-saving slim-top gaming machines. Compatible with existing RS232 and NetPlex gaming platforms and the next generation of USB games, both printers print tickets in two colors. They store hundreds of clip art objects and graphics that can be used in advertising promoting other venues on the casino property on the tickets. Both offer ITH Intelligent Ticket Handling technology that makes tickets available to players only after the ticket is fully printed and fully sliced from the paper packet. The GEN2 Universal also has a large paper capacity that requires filling less often, and requires less labor input.
Hamden, Conn.-based ticket printer manufacturer TransAct Technologies Inc. has found success with its Epic 950 and Epic 430 gaming printers.
TransAct’s Epic 950, which was awarded default status by IGT for all new gaming and video machines, featured quick disconnect, reliable ticket burst and present, a grounded metal inner and outer frame and USB connectivity.
The Epic 950 printer’s patented dual-port technology, Server Port, is capable of delivering real-time, targeted coupons directly to the player. Its Epic 430 gaming printer featured a modular design that can be configured as space permits, is designed specifically for gaming-type machines found in non-casino establishments. These include Amusements with Prizes (AWP), Skills with Prizes (SWP), Video Lottery Terminals (VLT), and Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT).
With TITO printers, you also need ticket paper. Slot Tickets Inc., of Memphis, Tenn., originally developed its paper for use in the IGT EZ Pay ticket systems but now offers ticket paper to fit all types of printing systems. The paper, which is offered in accordion packs of 200 to 600 tickets each, can be customized to include a casino’s logo or other artwork, said Tom Mitchell, chief executive officer at Slot Tickets. The paper is designed to accept and clearly hold ink jet printing.
Additional features include security numbering, which prevents unscrupulous players from photocopying tickets and cashing them at different cashiers’ cages. Once a ticket is accepted, duplicates with the same security numbers are rejected, Mitchell said. The tickets also include the “White Phantom” watermark that discourages the wicked from even trying to fraudulently duplicate slot tickets, he added.