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Game Changers – Slot

Video slot bonuses allow you to control your destiny

By Bill Burton


Technology allowed slot makers to add additional lines to their slot games, along with raising the number of coins that could be played on each line.


Bonus Slots Allow You to Control Your Destiny

I’ve been writing about casino gambling since way back in 1998, and the other day I took a look at some of the columns that I’ve penned over the years. Reading through the old columns was like looking into a time capsule, because some of the incredible “new” technology from those years is now commonplace in casinos.  One example is video slot machines with bonus rounds

In one column I wrote about the new video slot machines that offered bonus rounds and stunning graphics, making the games vastly more entertaining for players.  These games were quite a change from the standard reel machines that dominated casino floors back then, and they’ve evolved into something even more spectacular today.

Australia’s Aristocrat company introduced video bonus slot games to this country in 1996. The slots in Australia, which are called “pokies,” differed from American three-reel machines by offering multiple pay lines, various betting options and multiple winning combinations. Because their winning combinations appeared across the screen, they were dubbed “scatter pay” machines. They also had a bonus screen which gives the player the opportunity for a bigger additional jackpot when triggered.

When these games came to America, they were placed at first in certain Indian casinos, where they quickly became popular. The American slot makers took notice and started to design multi-line bonus games of their own. They saw that players would play these games longer than regular slots, in the hopes of reaching the bonus screen.

In the years since they were first introduced, video slot machines have taken over the majority of the floor space in many casinos. In that time, we’ve also seen a reduction in the base denomination of many machines, from quarters to nickels and then pennies.

Technology allowed slot makers to add additional lines to their slot games, along with raising the number of coins that could be played on each line. Many new games offered the option to play so many coins that it became cost prohibitive for the average person to play maximum coins on each spin of the machine. So, to accommodate these players, the slot makers lowered the denomination of the machines. The lower denomination machines really just allow the player to spread their money over more pay lines. Many of these players continue to wager just as much money, if not more, than they were spending on the reel machines.

Today, the hottest new video slot machines are showcases for all kinds of utting-edge technology. One example is my favorite game, Star Trek, from WMS Gaming. These machines incorporate the “Bose 3Space Surround Sound Gaming Chair” into the game,  which lets the player hear and feel the action that takes place on the screen. You feel as if you were sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise. The chair vibrates and shakes as you battle against enemy ships, firing photon torpedoes and taking hits from Klingon vessels.

When you finally make it to one of the bonus rounds, it then becomes an interactive experience, because the choices you can make during the bonus portion of the game actually affect the amount of money you collect. This immerses you in the world of the game, far more than if you were just sitting there pushing the “spin” button.

Players Want to Participate

While cushy vibrating chairs aren’t the norm, this concept of creating an  “interactive experience” is a reason why the majority of new slot machines offer some sort of bonus round. One question I’ve been asked many times by players is whether the choices they make during these bonus rounds actually matter—or if the amount they win is predetermined.

For example: In the Star Trek bonus round, you’re transported to the surface of a planet where there are 10 rocks. You blast these rocks with your phaser gun to reveal either bonus points, or the Salt Monster. As long as you hit credit amounts, you continue; if you blast a rock and reveal the Salt Monster, the round is over. At this point, you may wonder whether there really is only one Salt monster behind those rocks, or if the machine is programmed to have it appear behind more than one.

The Truth About Bonus Rounds

The good news is that in this type of bonus round, where you have to select the winning objects, your choices really do make a difference.  Inside the slot machine is a microprocessor similar to the one in your home computer. Instead of running Word or Excel, it runs a special program—the Random Number Generator (RNG)—which generates numbers that correspond to the symbols on the reels of the slot machine.

This program determines whether each spin is a winner or a loser. When a bonus round is triggered, the machine’s RNG will usually select how the bonus round will be set up (i.e., which prize amounts will be located behind each rock). And this means the choices you make during the bonus round really do matter. You control your own destiny, and this is why bonus rounds are such an important and exciting element of modern video slots.

Until next time, remember: luck comes and goes, but knowledge stays forever.


Bill Burton is the author of “1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets” and “Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold’em,” which are available online at He’s also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps:



Game Changers – Slot.

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