A quick tour of ARIA’s slots at CityCenter

December 22, 2009 5:02 PM
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Lots to pick from, but the server?

As the newest casino to open on the Strip, ARIA is certainly the most breathtaking. MGM MIRAGE (MGM) spared no expense in creating a gaming space that is at once functional and artistic.

The slot floor, surprisingly, only has about 1,940 slot machines, which some experts say is a small amount, considering the size of the property.

But maybe that number is deceiving, because one of the biggest features of the slot mix is the network or server-based gaming system – the first to be applied to a full-blown casino.

Under this system, the slot machines are unlike standard, dedicated slots, which usually offer just one game or suite of games (such as a variety of keno games or video poker variations).

Under the server system, the slot machine "boxes" are hooked up to a network, from which the player can supposedly download up to 200 different games.

The casino, of course, controls what games are available, and it can also change the denomination of the machines, and even the hold percentages, from a central location.

The system, which is manufactured by IGT and called the sbX network, also allows customers to order a drink, participate in tournaments or other promotions, keep track of their slot points and earnings and communicate with the casino’s rewards club.

Note that not all manufacturers’ games are compatible with the sbX system, so they won’t be linked to the IGT network. At least not for awhile.

The network is thus an interactive link between the player and the casino.

However, while making a cursory inspection of the slot machines at ARIA last weekend, there was little evidence of any kind of network connection. Nor was there any menu from which to download other games.

And when a floor person was asked about downloading games from a server network, he responded as if the question were posed in a foreign tongue.

The only thing noticeable on the machines was a small box, which had an interactive menu, listing the property’s amenities (dining, entertainment, players club, etc.).

But since it required a player’s club card to access the information, my exploration of the server network was a short trip.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll find out more about ARIA’s server based system, just when it will be operating at full speed and what advantages players can expect from the system.