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Slot machines have changed very little in the hundred years since they were invented. All that gambling required was high hopes, the ability to push a button, or pull the handle on the one-armed bandit, and of course, lots of money to spend. But these days, a new generation of gamblers, that grew up on interactive video and computer games, finds it too boring to just sit and stare at a machine for hours on end. So slot machine makers are catering to the generation that has developed its hand and eye coordination to the max, and are introducing new trends, and slot machines that require skill.

Casinos are realizing that newcomers to gambling will be looking for more technologically sophisticated games. They are wanting to entice a new clientele with all kinds of bells and whistles, including high-tech graphics and sound, and games that are geared for player interaction. Because the gaming business is evolving rapidly, properties are not waiting as long to replace machines with newer models.

In the past, replacements were made approximately every 5-7 years, but now machines are replaced approximately every 3-5 years. The tremendous competition with other casinos, requires operators to also have a larger quantity of machines, as well as newer ones. Another innovative trend is linking several machines together, so that players can team up or compete with each other. The Showboat Casino, in Atlantic City, reports that many young people are drawn to these communal games.

Some of these games invite groups of players to compete against the house, and the excitement of a group win is palpable. This multi-player approach has resulted in gambling being a less solitary activity, and has encouraged an interactive social environment in the casinos. Slot makers are also incorporating movie and television themes into their new creations. Some of the current machines are based on Survivor, The Adams Family, Austin Powers, and Deal or No Deal , with more being created constantly.

The designers of the newer trends draw from their experience in the video industry. Today's machines feature flat panel screens, ergonomic design, and brilliant sharp images. (This is not your grandma's casino.) Additional improvements include coin-less machines, that issue tickets when players win. These are already in use at Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino amp; Spa. WMS's "Top Gun Sensory Immersion" game has been out for awhile, and it features a Bose 3Space Surround Sound gaming chair, and 3-D graphics.

According to Phil Gelber, vice president of game development, "Players have never seen anything like it on a slot machine. It's a whole new adrenaline rush that they've never seen before in gaming." The bonus round includes the opportunity for players to assume a jet fighter pilot role. More advances include WMS's "episodic gaming" which will enable players to continue a game where they left off, at a later date or even another location. Casinos will stop at nothing to capture the attention of a new generation of players, so millions of dollars are being spent by manufacturers, in the pursuit of the ultimate fantasy experience for gamers.

Game designers come up with original ideas, which are then tested and evaluated by focus groups, and the results are studied meticulously before they hit the casino floor. Leading slot manufacturers, in addition to WMS, are International Game Technologies (IGT) and Bally Technologies. IGT hit one out of the park with its "Wheel Of Fortune Special Edition Super Spin", http://slotoff.com/ a super-sized version of the most popular slot in history. Up to nine players can sit around the wheel and play the game together, and it also attracts huge crowds of spectators.

IGT is the inventor of video poker, an amazing cutting edge technology, at the time of its conception. Bally is getting its inspirations in the field of video technology, using a wide screen, high-definition configuration, that makes the player feel like he has actually entered the game screen. This advanced generation of slot machines, will certainly add to the surreal casino experience, making it even more exciting for new gamblers, and the sky is the limit with the progressive technologies that are developing daily.

Sources: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/09/business/slots.php?page=1 http://www.spark-online.com/issue25/fraim.html http://www.hotel-online.com/News/PressReleases1998_3rd/Sept98_Slots.html http://www.strictlyslots.com/archive/0704ss/art.htm