Celebrity slots have a nice ring (cha-ching!) to them

May 22, 2001 10:20 AM

Slot machines have come a long way since the old cherry-lemon-plum contraptions beckoned players with the promise of winning a fistful of coins. By contrast, today’s electronic marvels tantalize players with high-tech graphics, surround sound, multiple bonus games and, most important, lottery-like jackpots.

Adding to the fun of playing slots is the use of celebrities, TV personalities or even entire shows to keep players’ interest. In fact, the most popular slot machine of the past decade is the "Jeopardy" series, which features sounds and likenesses from the hit TV game show.

IGT’s most recent version of Jeopardy is a video slot, which was christened in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel, Harrah’s, the Plaza, the Stardust Resort & Casino, Sunset Station and Westward Ho casinos. The Aladdin, Barbary Coast and the Rio soon followed.

"Jeopardy video" is a nickel video slot version of the reel machine. The new video version pumps up the action with enhanced sound effects and computer graphics, as well as voiceovers by host Alex Trebek and announcer Johnny Gilbert, and the familiar Jeopardy music.

And there are multiple ways to win. The Jeopardy Bonus starts when three or more Jeopardy symbols land on any payline, and the Double Jeopardy Bonus kicks in with three or more Double Jeopardy symbols.

Players then pick squares from grids that look like the set on the TV game show. Each square reveals a credit value, which is added to the bonus win. One 2-times multiplier is hidden on the grid in the Jeopardy Bonus, and two 2-times multipliers double the bonus credits in the Double Jeopardy Bonus.

Another very popular new game based on a TV show is "I Dream of Jeannie." It is also a nickel video slot game - and is loaded with ways to win. Three or more scattered Wish symbols trigger the Three Wishes Bonus.

A player picks three out of six wishes when Jeannie beckons, "Make a wish." The player gets laughs while racking up credits, with wishes like "I wish I had natural blonde hair" and "I wish my mattress was stuffed with money." The Bonus Doubled symbol delivers the ultimate wish of a doubled payout. And if the Bonus Wish symbol is uncovered, the player gets an extra pick from the wish list.

Bonus game fever is heightened in the Spin the Wheel Bonus, triggered by three, four or five Jeannie Wheel symbols on any payline. The player picks the number of spins by choosing bottles from a beach. The familiar TV show theme music plays during the reel spin, credit rollup and bonus play, and the round ends with Jeannie announcing, "Master, you’re a winner!"

The machine, marketed and distributed by Anchor Coin, will be available in a stand-alone format in all jurisdictions except Atlantic City and Detroit, where its MegaJackpot Instant Winner jackpot prize will build from a base of $100,000.

Of the 1,200 "I Dream of Jeannie" machines on order nationwide, the first installations were in Las Vegas at the Aladdin, Flamingo Hilton, Harrah’s, Mandalay Bay, Paris, the Rio, Sunset Station and the Venetian.

Another popular new machine is the "Austin Powers" slot game, which features likenesses of the stars of the campy series of feature films. If you’re a slot player you’ll also like games that feature the "Honeymooners" (the old TV series starring Jackie Gleason), and game show spinoffs such as "The Price is Right" and "Let’s Make a Deal."

If you’re a die-hard TV fan, you’ll probably like the "Three Stooges" slot line developed by Shuffle Master. The machines feature the wacky sights and sounds of the madcap trio.