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Can I Get A Witness?

Charles Fey, came up with the basic design of the three-reel slot that exists to this day-a monumental occurrence, considering the fact he was trying to build a toaster.

Can I Get A Witness?

I just got back from Las Vegas, where I testified as an expert witness in a lawsuit over slot machines. All I had to do was testify as to how slot machines work, but I was still really nervous—my only experience with courtroom drama has been from TV shows and movies.

I imagined the opposition’s lawyer grilling me like Perry Mason. “Mr. Legato, are we really expected to believe that you know anything about anything? Who are you trying to fool? You killed Kirk Robin, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?”

Then, I would crack under the pressure: “Alright, I did it! And Kirk Robin deserved it! I pointed my gun and… Wait, this was about slot machines, right? Never mind what I just said.”

I did get to relate some knowledge on the history of slot machines, though. I even mentioned Charles Fey, who invented the three-reel slot machine in 1899. He came up with the basic design of the three-reel slot that exists to this day—a monumental occurrence, considering the fact he was trying to build a toaster.

Anyway, the court experience wasn’t scary at all. To my astonishment, there was no packed gallery. No one was leaning on every word I said from the stand about random number generators and probabilities and whether or not you can predict what a slot’s going to do.

OK, one guy who opened the door did seem surprised, but I think he was looking for the men’s room.

Anyway, the trial behind me, I turned to my usual job of trying to come up with a segue to the next part of my column, a job that handily is taken on by the sentence you are reading.

That accomplished, let’s look at the casino news of the day, as summarized in the deadline-day issue of our fine weekly, GGB News.

It seems that Australian billionaire James Packer is among those looking at Sri Lanka as the next spot for a destination casino. This item leaves me with one question:

Does anyone else think James Packer looks like Robbie Robertson from The Band? I looked at the picture of him in GGBN and started to look around for Levon Helm.

That picture was right before the image of Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, which is looking to augment his “FarmVille” social gaming millions with real-money gaming. The Pincus picture just made me feel old and poor. Like Packer, this guy’s a billionaire, but he looks like one of my kids’ friends.

Does it sound like I look at the pictures a lot when I read? I do. For instance, I just saw a picture of Full Tilt Poker founder Ray Bitar. He looks a lot like a biker. (He should fit right in when he goes to prison.) I saw another picture of another rich guy, developer David Cordish, who was presiding over the launch of table games at his Maryland Live! casino. He rolled the first dice, doing a spot-on impression of Steve Lawrence throwing the first bones at Resorts International in 1978.

There was other casino news this month that didn’t even need a picture. For instance:

• A state senator in Texas is advancing a measure that would create casinos in the Lone Star State, to stop the state from hemorrhaging tax money to Oklahoma. In the Enchanted Land of Governor Rick Perry, the bill has chances of passage similar to the chance that giant purple lizards will eat Las Vegas.

• To comply with an order from the National Labor Relations Board, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem must now negotiate a union contract with its guards. The NLRB rejected all of the casino’s arguments, which included allegations that the union, the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association, was secretly a branch of the United Steelworkers; that the union bullied employees into approving the union; that the NLRB itself had no legal standing because of questionable recess appointments by President Obama; and that the union chief was actually the reincarnated spirit of Attila the Hun.

(OK, I made the last one up, but you get the picture.)

• The marketers of Atlantic City are ramping up their “Do AC” marketing campaign in Baltimore and other cities, attempting to snatch gamblers back from competing states with the catchy slogan, which only recently replaced the less-than-successful “For The Love Of God, Please Come Here!”

By the way, this was my most effective expert testimony in that lawsuit:

“This whole trial  is out of order! You can’t handle the truth!”

Well, it was something like that, anyway.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.