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Horror Stories and Global Games

Cyber-not: remember the mechanical reels slots and the change carts

Horror Stories and Global Games

I was looking at all the horror stories coming out of MGM Grand last month after a cyberattack basically shaved a century off their hotel and casino operations.

Nothing against MGM, but I’m glad I wasn’t there that weekend. They had people physically signing in, clerks using pens to write down credit-card numbers by hand. I don’t remember the last time I actually signed a hotel registration book. I don’t know if I ever did.

I wonder how many “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” entries they got.

But imagine the lines at registration as every guest was manually signed in to their rooms. I can’t imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. What about keys? The Bloomberg report I saw said digital room keys didn’t work, but it left out one important tidbit: How the heck did guests get in their rooms? Skeleton keys? Windows? Did they crawl through the HVAC ducts and drop in?

Maybe they put promotional videos in the ducts for people to watch as they crawled to their rooms: “Don’t forget to check out Wolfgang Puck’s Bar & Grill. Bring cash. Please pay Wolfgang himself. Gray hair, big grin. In a chef suit.”

That’s the other thing: Payment systems were down. You had to pay for food with cash. I’m wondering if they had old cash registers stashed somewhere.

But the gambling was still there, right? You could still drop that old-fashioned wad of cash on the craps table and get chips, and cash in your winnings at the cage, right?

Well, that didn’t work for slot players. According to the report, many of the slot machines were shut down.

So, here’s a suggestion:

To prepare for this in the future, use your extra real estate to build an old-timey property adjacent to the modern casino. A big, fancy registration book for Mr. and Mrs. John Smith to sign. Cash payment only, in advance. Ornate, old-fashioned room keys. Just for effect, steam radiators in the rooms, with ceiling fans for when it’s hot.

On the casino floor, nothing but coin-operated slots—all mechanical reels—and employees with change carts roaming around the floor.

The table games wouldn’t have to change anything, since they haven’t changed since, you know, 1900. (Well, check that—they no longer offer faro.)

What’s sad for me is that I actually remember some of this stuff. Well, maybe not sign-in registration or cash for hotel rooms. But I do remember having credit cards with embossed numbers so they could be run through those mechanical credit-card ink-machine thingies.

Hey, that would have saved those clerks from having to write down the credit-card numbers. They should keep a bunch of those machines on hand for the next crisis.

Oh, yeah. The cards don’t have the embossed numbers on them anymore. This modern world!

But I do remember the mechanical reels, and the change carts, and making sure I had as big a wad of cash as possible to take to the casino.

And I remember, as another indicator of my advancing age and the accompanying slide toward decrepitude, the first time I did the big slot feature in this issue, though it wasn’t called “Global Games” back then. It was called “World of Slots.” (Segue rating: 7.5.) As far as I can remember, the first time I got advance information on new games from slot manufacturers was in 1990, freelancing for Casino Journal and for our current publisher, Roger Gros, when he was an editor in the magazine’s Atlantic City office.

It was easier back then. I think there were only six or seven slot companies. It was also easier because I was 33 years old, or, put another way, exactly half my current age. I wrote articles on 13 companies this year, and that still wasn’t all of the slot-makers.

It’s the 22nd time I did the big slot feature for the magazine in your hand or on your screen. But I’ve done it each of the past 33 years in one form or another.

All this time, I’ve had this secret dream: Instead of slogging to all the manufacturers, seeing their games, doing the interviews, and locking myself in my office for two weeks of marathon writing, I just make stuff up.

“Acme Slot Company’s new highlighted game, ‘Pay Me,’ displays no reels or animation. It is a blank screen, filled with gaming entertainment.”

“Bob’s Fancy Slots LLC has absolutely no new games this year. Please refer to last year’s Global Games.”

“If you fill up the pots on top of the screen, the machine blows up. The trick is to cash out just before the explosion. Have fun!”

I didn’t make anything up this year. Honest.


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.  

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