Despite all the ups and downs in 2002, gaming continues to expand in
venues beyond Nevada. And gaming machines — slot, video poker and more —
have become the foundation of virtually every new casino, from San Diego to
Those two realities have helped slot
manufacturing giant IGT become a billion-dollar company, and the world leader in
slot machine and video gaming machine design and production.
In just a relatively short period of
time, the company has set the standard for product innovation. IGT products
include the S2000 and Vision Series spinning reel slots, the Game
King multi denomination, multi game video product, a full line of
interactive video iGames, the EZ Pay Ticket System, and the
Japanese pachisuro slot.
IGT also makes proprietary software
for MegaJackpots games like Megabucks, The Addams Family
and Wheel of Fortune, as well as IGT Gaming Systems (IGS) for
casino player tracking.
Moreover, IGT created and marketed the
first video poker machines in the 1970s. The games quickly caught on with
players, and IGT adapted the concept to bar-top versions which, in turn,
produced new revenue possibilities for neighborhood taverns.
IGT eventually sold more video poker
machines than all of its competitors combined. In 1998, traditional video poker
took a giant leap in popularity with the introduction of Triple Play Draw
Poker, the result of an IGT partnership with Action Gaming, Inc. That
concept has since been adapted to Five Play Poker, Ten Play Poker,
Fifty Play Poker and Hundred Play Poker (100 hands at a time),
plus a wealth of other poker variations.
IGT helped take slot machines into the
microprocessor age in the 1980s with the creation of its S-Plus spinning
reel slot machine. The machine’s reliability and serviceability quickly made
it the industry standard and led to slot machine revenue eclipsing table game
revenue in Nevada casinos.
IGT began introducing custom game
themes for the S-Plus in 1988, and created an average of 25 new themes a
year through the ”˜90s. In 2000, the S-Plus product line was replaced
with the S2000 slot machine, featuring enhanced audio and visual effects.
the world’s first wide-area progressive slot system, was launched in Nevada in
1986. Its success led IGT to expand its MegaJackpots offerings to a wide
range of gaming jurisdictions, denominations and game themes, and to add a line
of products known as MegaJackpots Instant Winner games, whose top
jackpots are paid in full instantly.
IGT MegaJackpots have produced
more than 500 millionaires in their 15-year history, and have paid out more than
$2.1 billion in major jackpots. The MegaJackpots product has made huge
jackpots a possibility for all slot players. And for one player, that meant the
world’s largest slot jackpot of $34.9 million, won in January 2000 at the old
Desert Inn in Las Vegas.
IGT built its reputation on a
willingness to customize its products. IGT was the first company to apply game
themes to its slots — something other than a company name or simple
denomination on the game glass. Now-classic themes like Red, White & Blue
and Double Diamond paved the way for hundreds of other slot game themes,
and led to the marriage of slots with well-known entertainment themes like Wheel
of Fortune and Elvis.
Imbedded bill acceptors were
introduced by IGT in 1994. Building gaming machines with built-in bill
validators relieves casinos from constantly having to dispense change to
players. It’s a major convenience for the casino AND the player.
In 1999, IGT unveiled another gaming
machine milestone with its EZ Pay Ticket System technology. EZ Pay
combines ticket printers with traditional hopper pays to improve a gaming
machine’s cashout function for players. The ticket can be reinserted into
other EZ Play machines; exchanged for cash at a cashier’s station;
cashed by attendants on the casino floor using wireless validation units; or
held by the player for use at a later time.
Players can still insert bills or
coins to start playing and can change their wager without the bother of
collecting and converting coins when they cash out.
Another innovation was IGT’s Game
King multi game machine, introduced in 1994, and offering a selection of
video poker and keno games on a single machine. Players no longer had to move
from one machine to another to play a different video game. The latest variation
on the theme is the multi denomination machine, which gives players the option
of playing nickel, dime, quarter or dollar credits on a single machine.
IGT introduced the Vision Series
slot machine in 1997, in response to casino requests for machines with secondary
bonus games and more high-tech excitement for the player. The Vision Series
slot has a high-resolution Liquid Crystal Display that programs bonuses, casino
events, and live video directly to the player. Vision technology made
possible games like Elvis, with its Elvis Presley concert footage and
IGT was also the first gaming machine
manufacturer to introduce video gaming and slot machines to pari-mutuel sites
like racetracks. The addition of machine gaming at racetracks in states like
Delaware and Iowa has saved what was becoming a threatened industry.
The company now adapts a number of the
entertainment world’s best-known themes to create innovative and popular
products for the casino. Those familiar themes include Wheel of Fortune
(the most popular gaming machine in history), The Addams Family, Regis
Cash Club, I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters, The Price Is
Right, Harley-Davidson and Austin Powers. IGT’s
original-theme successes include Little Green Men, My Rich Uncle, Cleopatra
and The Frog Prince.