Slot Machines and Video Lottery Terminals

Casino patrons who frequent the gaming tables have always looked down on slot players as being inferior beings.

The telltale blackened hands is a sure indicator of a slot player. However, casinos themselves have been taking a new look at the slot players. They are a loyal, consistent and highly prized commodity in today's competitive casino arena.

The largest majority of slot players in the past have been women. The traditional slot player was thought to be a wife, or girlfriend of the male high roller, who passed time aimlessly plunking quarters and dollars into slot machines.

However, with the introduction of video poker and other gaming devices, the slot machine scene has changed drastically.

This change is reflected in the balance sheet as the win from slots and video lottery terminals become larger and larger.

Slot machines have four qualities that make them appealing to potential gamblers. First, there is no human contact; you don't need to ask anyone how to play the game; they are self-taught, with only a limited number of rules.

Those individuals who felt uncomfortable playing baccarat, blackjack or crap because of the complicated skills need to play the games, have no fear of the slot machines. Second, slots can be played for a very significant investment; a nickel, dime, quarter, or dollar.

Third, slot machines offer the potential for the highest payoff of any casino game. They often have mega-jackpots well over a million dollars.

And lastly, from the casino's point of view, slots have a tendency to become addictive.

Behavioral psychologists have stated that the most effective means of reinforcement, or the occasional win. This optimal conditioning provides the player with an occasional win, and this encourages the player to continue playing the game.

Slot machine players tend to be very territorial in nature; if they start playing a machine, they consider it theirs, no matter how many machines they start playing.

When a slot player has to leave for any reason and is going to return, he or she will place a cup on the handle of the machine to indicate that the machine is in play, and for other players to be wary.

A video lottery terminal (VLT) is a slot machine that can play bingo cards, poker hands, or whatever type of game the manufacturer desires; it is known as adult entertainment, or adult amusement. It is the updated version of the one-armed bandit.

These games have assisted the state lotteries during periods of slackened revenue. Thanks to the ability of state lotteries to make gambling appear respectable, they present to states and counties potential revenue for the environment, education, and economic development.

One of the advantages that the VLTs have over a normal lottery is that they can offer the gambler instant gratification, because they know the results immediately.

Layers can sit for hours before the video terminals playing interactive games with touch control screens providing them an avenue for turning their hard-earned cash into instant adrenaline.

Another advantage to the casino is the reduction in labor costs resulting from VLTs over other consumer games. Floor and pit games are inherently labor-intensive, while slot and VLTs are technologically oriented.

With the changes in basic slot machine forms, more and more companies are entering slot machine business.

In the 1930s, only a half-dozen companies built mechanical slot machines. Today, the field is dominated by such giants as Bally Gaming and IGT, although numerous smaller companies are players within the game.

Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and Reno have shown increasing slot machine revenue in recent years.