QUESTION: I miss the coins in the slot machines. There was nothing better than a big win and hundreds of coins pouring out. Is there any chance we could get those kinds of games back into casinos?
ANSWER: Unlikely at best. There are too many advantages for casinos in paying off in tickets rather than coins or tokens. Ticket printers mean casinos don’t have to tie up cash in coins to fill the machines, or spend the money to have tokens printed. They don’t have to spend time and money to have the coins counted and re-bagged. Slot machines don’t have the downtime we used to see because of jammed or empty coin hoppers. There is no need for employees to walk the aisles with change cats.
There were security concerns with coins, too. Casinos lost money to the occasional dishonest employee who would pinch the corners of coin bags, then pocket a couple of coins per hopper fill. Players lost money, too, as theft of buckets of coins was more prevalent than theft of bar-coded tickets.
You still can play with coins in a few casinos with older equipment. The downtown area of Las Vegas centered on Fremont Street still has hundreds of coin-droppers. But there’s no movement at casinos with more modern equipment to take a technological step backward.
Instead, what we’re more likely to see is the eventual replacement of tickets with electronic funds transfers. The Motor City Casino in Detroit has been one pioneer in development and use of an EFT system, and it’s something we’re likely to see more of as regulatory concerns are addressed.
QUESTION: Have you seen the new Winning Streaks video poker game? Do you need to approach it differently than Multi-Strike?
ANSWER: I’ve seen Winning Streak Poker only in demo. WMS’ new video poker machines have debuted in casinos, but the new Winning Streak game hasn’t yet been approved. Expect to see it later this year.
Winning Streak is a new approach to multihand games. If you have a winning hand, it’s moved up a level signifying a one-times pay table winner, and you’re dealt a second hand. Win again, and the second hand moves to the 1x slot, while the first moves up to 2x, where additional wins move it to 5x and 10x. You keep playing as long as the winning streak holds up.
In a way, it’s a game of opposites to Multi-Strike, where the big multipliers come on later hands. In Multi-Strike, early-hand decisions are designed to maximize frequency of wins at the cost of potential bigger-payers. You need to do that to move up the ladder for a chance at a big multiplier. In Winning Streak, it’s the early hands that have the chance at moving up the ladder. If you have a big winner on an early hand, then your strategy will change to trying to maximize frequency of wins on later hands to push that first hand up the multiplier scale.
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