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Frank Scoblete - How Slot Machines Work

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  • Frank ScobleteThe industrial revolution of the late 1700s and early 1800s saw machines displace man in the manufacturing of just about everything, except perhaps other human beings (but that?s happening now!). In 1811 in England, organized retaliatory groups of angry workers, both those who were employed and those who were unemployed, known as Luddites, went around smashing machines and decrying the fact that man was being replaced by soulless, heartless, inhuman, almost satanic devices. The jobs those workers performed are long gone, as are those workers. The machines that took their place, that outperformed them, have birthed a world that looks to machines not only to do physical labor but to answer some of the most profound questions of science.

    Apocryphally, the slot revolution of the 1970s in America saw one poor worker who had just been let go at the Landmark in Las Vegas take a sledge hammer to a machine on the casino floor and scream: ?You son of a bitch! You?re gonna kill all of us!? From our source (one of the most unreliable sources we have unfortunately), this dealer, or rather former dealer, got in two hefty whacks with the sledge hammer before he was carted off shrieking and foaming to Clark County jail. This poor dealer was worried that the machines were taking over the casino industry and indeed he was right. Today, fully two-thirds of the casinos? profits are from the machines and in some areas of the country such as Tunica close to 90 percent of the hold is from the pulling of handles and the pressing of buttons.

    Although human dealers have not as yet been replaced by machines (in fact there are more dealers today than ever before because of the explosion of casinos across America), the percentage of live gaming employees who deal directly with the games in the casinos has decreased in direct proportion to the increase in the number, scope and variety of machines. This change has even hit, well, the making of change. Thus, the women and men who cash bills for coin (the ?change persons?) are being phased out by slot and video-poker machines that accept bills and make their own change. It makes you wonder if some casino Luddites might just be stockpiling sledge hammers.

    And what has caused such consternation among the human casino workers? Why the very things which have lured more people into casinos than to live athletic events in the past decade -- those incredibly smart, incredibly charming, incredibly winning computer-driven slot machines.

    The Luddites are dead and buried. Their factories are now places where men service machines who do the yeoman?s share of the work and create the royal share of the profit. So too in casinos. Slots are king. They are the mother-load of gold for the casinos. Even a superficial examination of the casino landscape will show this. For every billboard that extols a given table game or table-game option in the casinos, there are probably ten or more that extol the wonder of the machines.

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