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Issue No.02 - April-June (2011 vol.33)
pp: 46-59
Cristina Turdean , University of Delaware
<p>The last 30 years marked the unprecedented expansion of the casino industry and advances in gambling technology, particularly the slot machine. The development of the digital slot machine demonstrates the ways in which the culture of the casino floor and the specifics of the mechanical machine shaped the evolution of its digital successor.</p>
History of computing, gambling technology, slot machines, casinos, computer applications, organizational impact of computers, computing and information systems management
Cristina Turdean, "Casinos and the Digitization of the Slot Machine, 1950–1989", IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol.33, no. 2, pp. 46-59, April-June 2011, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2011.33
1. J. Yates, Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1989; J.W. Cortada, The Digital Hand, Oxford Univ. Press, 2003 (vol. I), 2006 (vol. II), 2008 (vol. III).
2. D. Caminer ed., LEO: The Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer, McGraw-Hill, 1998; A. Weaver Fisher, and J.L. McKenney, "The Development of the ERMA Banking System. Lessons from History," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 15, no. 1, 1993, pp. 44–57; D.G. Copeland, R. Mason, and J.L. McKenney, "Sabre: The Development of Information-Based Competence and Execution of Information-Based Competition," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 17, no. 3, 1995, pp. 30–56.
3. T. Haigh, "The Chromium-Plated Tabulator: Institutionalizing an Electronic Revolution, 1954–1958," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 23, no. 4, 2001, pp. 75–104; T. Haigh, "Remembering the Office of the Future: The Origins of Word Processing and Office Automation," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 28, no. 4, 2006, pp. 6–31.
4. The 1951 Johnson Bill, which prohibited the transportation of any gambling device across state lines, was a major contributor to the nationwide suppression of gambling.
5. This lag was due to the nature and early history of the device. A product of the automatic-machines era, the slot machine emerged as an intriguing hybrid technology. Primarily it belonged to the family of coin-operated devices that dispensed merchandise in public spaces or entertained the late-19th-century urbanite in arcade games parlors. But the machine was also an obvious oddity because of the outcome of dropping the coin in the slot. The cash payout and the role of chance in securing it rendered the slot machine different from its counterparts and its functions (to amuse, sell a play, and reward) placed it on the volatile border of entertainment, vending, and gambling. The latter element gave reformers the grounds to target the device as a tool of vice and the subsequent antigambling regulation significantly limited the manufacturers' possibilities for product development. However, given the kinship of all coin-operated machines, the early manufacturers of slot machines also produced arcade games, which created the framework for the transfer of technical innovation from one product category to another. This technological lineage explains why slot machine designers frequently borrowed concepts and solutions used in gaming devices.
6. R.M. Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, and Bell-Fruit-Gum, Royal Bell Books, 1995, pp. 240–245.
7. A hopper is the container that holds the money for payouts and dispenses the jackpots.
8. "Always Bet on the Butcher. Warren Nelson and Casino Gaming 1930s–1980s," Univ. of Nevada Oral History Program, 1994, p. 137.
9. Oral history of W.S. Redd 1983, Mississippi Oral History Program, Univ. of Southern Mississippi, , vol. 257, 1983, p. 26.
10. Oral history of W.S. Redd, p. 11.
11. Oral history of W.S. Redd, p. 27.
12. Oral history of M. Rueda, 2003, Special Collections, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, pp. 42–43.
13. B. Friedman, Casino Management, Lyle Stuart, 1974, pp. 271–279.
14. Slugs are counterfeits or foreign coins of similar size as those accepted by the machine.
15. Stringing involves attaching a coin to a wire and then pulling it back from the slot after the reels are set in motion.
16. Friedman, Casino Management, p. 10.
17. Advertisement for the Money Honey slot machine in Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, and Bell-Fruit-Gum, pp. 237–238.
18. "Always Bet on the Butcher," p. 83.
19. H.G. Lawson, "Blue-Chip Operator: Harrah's Leaves Little to Chance at Casinos," Wall Street J.,17 Mar. 1977.
20. "Silver Slipper Casino Slot Department Procedures," 1978, Special Collections, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, pp. 1–78.
21. C. Fredi quoted in "Casinos in America: Then and Now," Casino Gaming Magazine, Aug. 1986, p. 40.
22. Friedman, Casino Management, pp. 308–312.
23. Oral history of W.S. Redd, p. 19.
24. M. Ernkvist, "Creating Player Appeal. Management of Technological Information and Changing Pattern of Industrial Leadership in the U.S. Gaming Machine Manufacturing Industry. 1965–2005," doctoral thesis, Göteborg Studies in Economic History, 2005, pp. 109–125.
25. I. Telnaes interview by C. Turdean4 Mar. 2009.
26. T.R. Sabin, M. Dahl, and P.R. Brugger, "The Slot Machine Data System, an Accounting Method, a Security Technique, and a Marketing Tool," Gambling Research: Proc. 7th Int'l Conf. Gambling and Risk Taking, College of Business Administration, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, 1988, pp. 347–358.
27. R. Gallaway presentation at World Gaming Conference and Expo, Nov. 1988, Atlantic City, Special Collections, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, tape 341B04.
28. A.R. Lucero, R.E. Gilbert, and J.H. Stevens, Monitoring System for Use with Amusement Game Devices, US patent 4,072,930, to Bally Manufacturing, Patent and Trademark Office, 1978.
29. I. Telnaes interview by C. Turdean4 Mar. 2009, p. 25.
30. J.C. Saxton, B.H. Osterberg, and J.C. Kawan, Amusement Apparatus and Method, US patent 4,095,795, Patent and Trademark Office, 1978.
31. This is how the Saxton machine works. Every fraction of a second, even when the machine is resting, the RNG generates random numbers from zero to several billion. The pull of the handle assigns the most recent number to the game being played. The microprocessor then checks the EPROM for the reel-stopping positions corresponding to that number, spins the reels, and stops them at those positions. The game result is determined when the random number is selected and depends solely on the time of the pull. The payout percentage (the percentage that the machine will return to the player in the long run) does not depend on the random number that determines the spinning and stopping of the reels but on the payout combinations of symbols on the reels (i.e., one versus two coins back for a combination of one diamond and two spades) or the number of winning symbols on each reel. Each state regulates the minimum payout percentage.
32. Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, p. 260.
33. Bushnell would leave Nutting Associates to found Atari, the "cradle" of Pong (the first commercially successful videogame), and indirectly of Apple Computers (via Steve Jobs, a former Atari employee).
34. Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, p. 282.
35. Advertisement for specialty machines in Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, and Bell-Fruit-Gum, p. 281.
36. Bueschel, Lemons, Cherries, and Bell-Fruit-Gum, pp. 38–39.
37. S. Redd quoted in Ernkvist, "Creating Player Appeal," p. 146.
38. An IGT machine sold for US$12,000 in 1980 and $7,500 in 1982. Ernkvist, "Creating Player Appeal," p. 155.
39. I.S. Telnaes, Electronic Gaming Device Utilizing a Random Number Generator for Selecting the Reel Stop Positions, US patent 4,448,419, Patent and Trademark Office, 1984.
40. US patent 4,448,419, p. 39.
41. "A 'Virtual' Success," Gaming and Wagering Business, Oct. 1984, p. 18.
42. Atlantic City 1984 Casino Statistics, Univ. of Nevada, Las Vegas, Center for Gaming Research, .
43. D. Hasan, "The Times They Are A-Changin': Casinos Keep Pace with Shifting Demographics," Casino Gaming Magazine, June 1987, pp. 4–5.
44. B. Witcher vice president for slot operations with Resorts International in Atlantic City, quoted in "Casino Gaming Interview," Casino Gaming Magazine, June 1985, p. 34.
45. J. Perry vice president of Trop World in Atlantic City, quoted in "Anatomy of a Megafacility," Casino J., July 1989, p. 45.
46. "Bally: Still a Casino Leader," Casino Gaming Magazine, May 1985, p. 54.
47. "SDS-II User's Guide," Bally Manufacturing, 1988, p. I-1.
48. "Bally Expands Its Slot Data System," Casino Gaming Magazine, Feb. 1986, p. 48.
49. M. Lestrange systems manager for Bally's Park Place, quoted in "Bally Expands Its Slot Data System," Casino Gaming Magazine, Feb. 1986, p. 48.
50. "IGT: The King of Video Poker Expands Its Product Line," Casino Gaming Magazine, May 1985, p. 62.
51. "EDT's Player Tracking System Proves Its Worth," Casino Gaming Magazine, Nov. 1985, p. 61.
52. F. Legato, "New Slot Machines, Marketing Strategy for Success," Casino Gaming Magazine, Dec. 1986, pp. 39–40.
53. D.R. Davidson quoted in "Showboat," Casino Gaming Magazine, July 1985, p. 54.
54. D. Macomber quoted in "Knowing the Player Can Be a Comp Key," Gaming and Wagering Business, Jan. 1985, p. 45.
55. For examples of new methods see G.L. Lewis Jr., Casino Surveillance: The Eye That Never Blinks, G&G Surveillance Specialists, 1996, p. 50.
56. A.J., "Bud" Hicks, "What's in a Slot?" Gaming and Wagering Business, Dec. 1984, p. 47.
57. For a summary of this case see J. Burbank, License to Steal: Nevada's Gaming Control System in the Megaresort Age, Univ. of Nevada Press, 2000.
58. Nevada State Gaming Control Board, memo to the Nevada Gaming Commission, Regulation 14, Amendments, 13 July 1989, pp. 1–2, quoted in Burbank, License to Steal, p. 107.
59. "Regulations of the Nevada Gaming Control Commission and State Gaming Control Board," adopted 1 July 1959, revised Jan. 2011; http://gaming.nv.govstats_regs.htm#regs.
60. Hicks, "What's in a Slot?" p. 11.
61. F. Gushin quoted in "DGE Slot Testing Assures Integrity in New Jersey," Casino Gaming Magazine, May 1985, p. 31.
62. "DGE Slot Testing Assures Integrity in New Jersey," Casino Gaming Magazine, May 1985, p. 30.
63. A. Parrillo, "Combating Casino Crime," Casino Gaming Magazine, Apr. 1988, pp. 26–27.
64. I thank J.L. Hall a scholar of electronic voting, for suggesting these connections.
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