The "Clang and Grime" of Slot Machines

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When it comes to inventions that influenced Memphis and Mississippi, the slot machine is up there with the cotton gin and the electric guitar.

A new report from the American Gaming Association claims to "demystify" slots and their impact in the United States.

"Slot manufacturers need to build devices for a society with a decreasing attention span" and an increasing appetite for electronic entertainment, the report says. In recent years, "customers have gravitated towards low-denomination machines that offer multiple small bets on a single play" and to nickel and penny slots.

Independently produced reports from the Mississippi Gaming Commission confirm the popularity of so-called "low-volatility games" with low bets and more opportunities for the customer to win, even though the payouts are smaller. "High-volatility games" including slots that take $5 to $100 per play have bigger jackpots but fewer winning combinations, fewer bells and whistles, and take less time to exhaust the customer's cash.

Other items of interest:

Coins are history. New machines take currency or electronic payments and pay winners with a ticket. In a curious bit of justification, the report says "the clang and grime associated with coins are only a memory." Actually, the clang is still part of the game in Tunica, although the noise is synthetic. The grime never seemed to bother anyone, but that was before omnipresent hand sanitizers.

A slot machine costs more than $10,000 and lasts, on average, seven years.

Average spending per visit ranges from $70 in riverboat casinos in Iowa to $100 in Atlantic City. Average spending in Mississippi was not reported in the study.

Slot machines "are part of an industry that is regulated more rigorously than banks, brokerage houses, or insurance companies."

Mississippi ranks second in the country in the number of slot machines at non-tribal casinos. Nevada is first.

Slots produce 70 percent of the revenue at Atlantic City casinos. In Mississippi, officials say the number is closer to 80 percent.

There is no such thing as a "hot" slot or a "cold" one. Each play is an independent event. The chances of winning on a given machine are the same every time.

One percent of the adult population is considered to be "pathological gamblers."

According to recent Mississippi Gaming Commission reports, the most popular machines in the North River region are 25-cent and $1 machines. There is one $500 slot machine in the region, at the Horseshoe Casino. The win percentage for the casino ranges from 7.39 percent on nickel slots to 3.44 percent on $100 slots.

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