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Vegas cabbie hits
record 5-cent jackpot!

Jan 20, 2004 6:53 AM

A Las Vegas cab driver on Sunday night hit a $3.2 million progressive jackpot on an Elvira, Mistress of the Dark video slot, the largest award ever on a nickel slot machine.

Robert Baker said winning $3.2 million was made even better because he won it downtown, at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.

"I play nickel progressives," Baker said, "they are my favorites and it really paid off!"

The Elvira machine is part of IGT’s Spooky Slots progressive system, which reset at $100,000. On progressive slot machines, the jackpot grows larger as the game is played.

Spooky Slots is one of 22 Nevada MegaJackpot systems operated by IGT, the world’s largest maker of slots and slot systems.

MegaJackpot instant winners are paid in their entirety upon verification, while machines such as Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune are paid in annual installments

Baker said he has no plans to quit his job as a cab driver, but did plan to fulfill a lifelong dream to buy a Lincoln Town Car.

IGT officials said the popularity of its linked progressive slot systems has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years.

The popularity of such systems seemed to reach a peak a couple of years ago, but recently there’s been renewed interest. That interest has been fueled, at least in part, by new progressive systems introduced by Bally and Aristocrat.

Moreover, casino operators have said they are devoting more floor space to progressive systems, based on the perception that players like the chance to hit a "life-altering" jackpot.

For its part, IGT remains the leader in offering high-profile, progressive systems.

"We developed Megabucks to offer a substantial jackpot alternative for casino players," said Ward Chilton, IGT Senior Vice President of North American Sales. "We believe certain gaming customers prefer to play for very large jackpots, and the continuing popularity of the MegaJackpot games bears that out."

The initial success of Megabucks, a dollar slot game introduced in 1986, led IGT to adapt the MegaJackpots concept to numerous other systems in a wide range of denominations — from pennies (The Beverly Hillbillies) to $5 tokens (Wheel of Fortune).

Over the years, IGT MegaJackpots have produced more than 860 millionaires and have awarded more than $3.3 billion in major jackpots.

After every progressive jackpot is hit, the MegaJackpots meter is reset to the system’s base amount, which varies according to jurisdiction.

What happens when a player wins a MegaJackpots award?

According to reports from previous winners, time seems to stand still as they slowly realize they’ve won something big.

Five hundred miles north of Las Vegas, in the IGT Reno MegaJackpots operations room, the lineup of the game’s winning symbols triggers first an alarm and then, a few seconds later, an advisory that a jackpot has been recorded on the system.

Generated by computers that monitor the 7,800 or so MegaJackpots machines scattered throughout the state, the advisory tells the 24-hour monitoring staff which game you were playing, as well as the time, location and amount of your jackpot.

Back in Las Vegas, the casino staff has, perhaps, offered the player a quiet place to sit and relax. While all outward signs indicate a major jackpot has been won, it is not yet "official."

Nevada gaming regulations require a verification process in which IGT technicians thoroughly inspect the machine’s internal systems to insure that the machine is working properly and the jackpot is legitimate.

In the course of verifying that a jackpot is legitimate, the IGT technician will check the candle (the light on top of the machine), compare various game programs, and compare machine readings to the information originally received at the Reno operations center.

Once the jackpot is verified, congratulations are in order, and completing the paperwork is ready to begin. The winner supplies two forms of identification and gives a current address, phone and employment information.

The paperwork usually takes less than an hour and voila!, the winner is presented with a check. A few later, an IGT representative will be in touch to finalize a few follow-up steps. Then comes the fun part — living the life as a lucky MegaJackpots winner!