Everything you want to know about the new slot machine products that will be coming soon to a casino near you was revealed at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) held Sept. 13-15 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Here are the highlights of the games that the world's leading manufacturers put on display:
Video poker players will no doubt be captivated with the World Series of Poker game created by WMS Gaming. It plays like a regular video poker game, only for the price of wagering an additional five credits per hand you are eligible for an exciting interactive bonus round called Final Table Bonus.
You reach the bonus round on random winning hands of a pair of jacks or better. It's an elimination Texas Hold'em tournament in which you are matched against several computer-generated players. The tournament progresses just like the real thing. If you defeat all of your opponents you can win a bonus of up to 3,500 coins.
It's an imaginative and thoroughly entertaining way to introduce video poker players to the bonus round aspect of slot play. Remember that it comes with a price, however. That extra bet per hand can add up.
Aristocrat Technologies came out not only with some intriguing new game formats, but also an attractive new cabinet in which to house them. The cabinet features dual screens featuring the familiar video format in addition to an oversized LCD color display in the top box.
Two of the most popular themes will be Agassi, themed after the international tennis sensation, and the George Lopez Game, branded with the image of the popular comedian and star of his own TV show.
The machines will appear on casino floors as double "stand alone" progressives with twin progressive jackpots: A major one that is seeded with $100 and a grand one that starts at $1,000.
Agassi employs Aristocrat's "bonus bank" technology whereby players are not required to make a max-coin spin to be eligible for the progressives. All that's required is to activate all 25 pay lines and make the extra 10-credit ante wager.
International Game Technology (IGT) is taking its ultra-popular Wheel of Fortune games to the next plateau with Wheel of Fortune Special Edition Super Spin. It is quite a spectacular presentation: Multiple machines are linked in the company's advanced video platform format, featuring images of Pat Sajak and Vanna White flanking a horizontal version of the familiar wheel.
An arrow lights up at the machine of a player who activates the bonus round. This can occur simultaneously at more than one machine. There's a 10-second countdown for one of the players to hit the "spin" button. The wheel spins and gradually slows down, revealing the bonus amount awarded to each machine.
If you're a fan of IGT's Fort Knox , the first entry in the company's "Wheelionaire" series of multiple progressive video slots, you are sure to like The Apprentice, based on the reality TV show featuring Donald Trump.
The appeal of The Apprentice game will be the Boardroom Bonus in which the player will select contestants from the show's first season. An image of "The Donald" himself appears on a screen in the top box of the machine. You continue to win credits as long as Trump states the contestant is fired. It ends when you select a symbol that indicates YOU are fired.
Finally, Bally Gaming introduced Estate Fever, the company's new entry into its innovative group play technology. It employs the same features as Auction Fever whereby when one player locks into the bonus round all of the other players at the carousel get to participate.
There's no doubt about it. Slots machines are no longer one-dimensional devices where reels spin and an outcome is revealed. They are becoming multi-dimensional entertainment experiences that engage players interactively.
One thing, however, never changes: The odds against winning. No matter how much they entertain, the computer program that runs them guarantees players as a collective group always lose and the casino always wins.