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Penny Slot Machines

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“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Those immortal lines were spoken by Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet. While there may be truth in those lines when we are talking about flowers, it is not necessarily the truth when applied to slot machines. The name “Penny Slot” might be best described by the expression, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” Names can be deceiving and finding the right name for a product can be the difference between its success and failure. Part of this is due to the fact that we tend associate mental images or feelings to words that we hear.

Penny Slots – The Newest Innovation
I am often asked about the latest innovations hitting the casino floors and lately I have been telling people that the hottest trend in the gaming industry has been the introduction of the “Penny Slot Machines.” The reaction to this statement is always the same; Laughter.

The reason for this reaction is that the penny is the lowest denomination of currency in our country. People can’t even name a product that can be purchased for a penny anymore. As a society we have gotten used to hearing about big sums of money. We have become somewhat desensitized to hearing about large sums of money. In this day and age when million dollar slot machine jackpots are commonplace and winners of Poker tournaments become instant millionaires, it’s hard to think of the penny as having much value. But the slot makers and casinos have discovered how valuable pennies can really be. In fact they have found that pennies really equal profits.

When we hear about penny slot machines the first thing that comes to mind is the image of sitting down and inserting a few copper” Abe Lincolns” into the machine and spinning the wheel in hopes of winning a dollar or two. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not Really a Penny Game
The new slot machines are multi-line machines that can accept many coins per line. Over the last few years the Slot Machine makers have been adding more lines to their games. They have also increased the number of coins that can be played on each line. This innovation was due primarily to the introduction of the “coinless machines” with bill acceptor and ticket out payoffs. This did away with the need to have a hopper filled with actual coins. A few years ago we saw a resurgence of the nickel slots as the number of coins that could be played on the machines increased. The new games could take so many coins per spin that it became cost prohibitive for many players to play maximum coins at the quarter level so the denomination of coins dropped down to a nickel. As the popularity of the nickel games increased the slot makers wanted to make games that would take even more coins per spin. Some of these games again became too expensive for the average player to play maximum coins even at the nickel level. The next logical step was to drop the denomination down again to the penny.

The reason I call the penny slot machines a “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing is the fact that the cost of playing maximum coins per spin on the new penny slot games can far exceed playing maximum coins in an old 3 coin dollar machine. I saw one slot machine at the gaming show that had a maximum bet of 1,600 coins. That’s $16 a spin. While this is not the average game many of them have 20 lines that can take up to 50 cons per line which would be $10 a spin.

Penny Megabucks
A while back IGT announced that it was introducing a penny version of its popular Megabucks game. Now the player could win millions with just a few pennies. That may sound good until you investigate further. To win the progressive jackpot on the standard dollar Megabucks machine you must be playing the maximum three coins per spin which equals $3. To win the progressive jackpot on the penny Megabucks game you must be playing the maximum 300 coins per spin which equals $3. Now who’s kidding who?

Play With Caution
If you want to play the penny slot machines you should approach them with caution. Don’t just automatically hit the maximum spin button or you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Read the help screen and find out how many coins it takes to have a bet on all the lines. Then decide how many coins/credits you want to risk per spin. You may choose to start with 2 or3 on each line.

These new machines have a higher hit frequency even though you might win back less than your initial wager on a spin. If you get ahead you can increase the number of coins you play per line. If you are losing you can go back to a single coin per line.

These new penny slot machines can be fun to play. Just remember even a penny has value. The casinos know this and you should too and even though they are called penny slots you can still win or lose big dollars.

Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever."

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