Busting it with Dave, pinball machines and Stephen King

Keynotes and Cash Grabs

I see that Stephen King is doing a keynote address at the Global Gaming Expo. Love that new movie It

Oh, it’s not that Stephen King. It’s the Stephen King who is CEO of Dave & Buster’s. He is going to draw parallels between the development of the casino industry and the empire of bistro-sports bars he runs, particularly the astounding parallels between a craps table and a deep fryer.

Oh, I’m kidding. It’s the success of Dave & Buster’s with the millennial generation—a subject of which our industry simply cannot get enough—that will be the key subject of King’s talk with G2E attendees.

King also will host a roundtable discussion exploring why his name is neither Dave nor Buster.

It’s our big trade show issue, so this is where I usually note the stuff that I think will be great. Not surprisingly, all the games are great, as you’ll see in our annual “Global Games” feature, the result of our extensive research into the focus and new products of each slot-maker, during which not one—not one single executive—commented that his or her company’s 2017 focus was on “achieving mediocrity.”

Although I would love a quote like that in one of these stories:

“We’re aiming for pretty OK,” says CFO Larry Steinhauser. “We build our games to have low to moderate appeal, to a very limited number of players.”

In any event, I’m not going to pick favorites, because in my business, that never ends well.

OK, with the show-issue stuff out of the way, it’s time to look at the month’s gaming news, brought to you by US Bank.

(Not really, but I always wanted a sponsor, and they do advertise.)

It says here that fistfights broke out among Las Vegas Strip clubgoers when a man began throwing $100 bills in the air at the Cromwell. It was about 4 a.m. outside the Drai’s nightclub. The guy tossed a stack of C-notes in the air over a crowd, and as you can imagine, it was like tossing a steak to a pack of hungry pit bulls.

A melee ensued. The constabulary was summoned.

Geez. You know, I never seem to be in a casino on one of those many occasions when people come out of a nightclub and throw cash in the air. I’m lucky if I find a nickel on the floor. In fact, I remember when that place was the Barbary Coast. The only thing getting tossed back then were whiskey-drunk patrons. (No, not me.)

My only message for this particular reveler is this: Next time you feel like tossing money, try 4 in the afternoon instead of 4 in the morning. Damn millennials.

California’s Graton Resort and Casino just launched IGT’s Texas Tea Pinball. It is the time-honored video slot with the Texas oil tycoon featuring a bonus game that is an actual skill-based game of pinball. Graton Assistant General Manager Brian Green commented to a reporter that the game is designed to “attract younger crowds.”

Pinball? Younger crowds? Man, I’ve been waiting for this kind of game for a while. Like a lot of people my age, I spent much of my adolescence (and probably too much of my early 20s, to be honest) playing pinball. I’m not a “younger crowd.” I’m an old crowd. An old, old crowd.

We baby boomers can slay most pinball games, because we have skills honed over an abnormally long, largely wasted youth. Younger crowd? I know 70-year-olds who are going to want to crush this kind of game. The casino probably won’t let us hit the game too much, and I’m sure IGT worked that factor into the design. I’m just saying, I’m 60, and I want to play this game.

IGT’s got a few games targeting those youngsters who go for the iPhones and video games. This isn’t it. Fellow boomers, meet me at Texas Tea Pinball. Bring beer.

In other gaming news, the New Hampshire Lottery is launching a New England Patriots $5 scratch-ticket game. It is the sixth consecutive year the lottery has offered a Patriots-themed game, under an ongoing state program called “They’re the New England Patriots So They’re New Hampshire Too.”

Hidden symbols to uncover for prizes on the scratch tickets are themed to reflect the Patriots. Players can win for scratching off three “Patriot Opponent Playbook” symbols, or three Bill Belichick-as-a-spy images, or just one image of Gronkowski. (He only needs one.)

The top prize is won by scratching to reveal three deflated footballs.

So, do you think Stephen King will pass out Dave & Busters wings and sliders?

That would be the best keynote ever.

Frank Legato

Author: Frank Legato

Frank Legato is editor of Casino Connection and also 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 recently published book on gaming, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying.