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Come On Down! And Play The Price Is Right Slot

23 October 2001

What could be more natural than a TV star on a video screen?

Alex Trebek, Dick Clark, Regis Philbin, Monty Hall, Barbara Eden--all have been featured on slot machines since gaming has gone video.

Now it's Rod Roddy's turn to come on down.

"I love slot machines," says the flamboyant Roddy, the announcer who for the last 16 years has been urging players to "Come on down!" for their chance to play with host Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right."

Now "The Price Is Right" is more than just a CBS daytime game show. It's a 9-line video slot machine, manufactured by IGT and debuting at Harrah's casinos across the United States. Roddy, who has been touring Harrah's properties in support of the new game, made stops at Harrah's East Chicago and Harrah's Joliet recently. And clad in a gold silk shirt and metallic blue jacket, he looked ready to take the stage as he stopped for a chat in the Sun-Times building.

"I made 400 voice tracks," he explains. "I act as host of the machine, to guide the player through the game. I'm the only cast member whose image is used on the machine. Bob Barker chose not to participate, but I love slot machines."

He especially loves this one.

"This game is going to blow everybody away. It's fantastic. The characters, the animation--it's just a lot of fun to play. I played it for an hour in Shreveport (one of the Louisiana stops on the Harrah's tour). I won, too, but I had to give the money back."

Chicago old-timers might remember Roddy as the morning disc jockey on WJJD-AM during its Top-40 days in 1961 and '62.

"I thought I'd arrived with a job in Chicago radio," Roddy recalls. "The station was in Des Plaines, and the first time I saw our transmitter, there were all these cows outside. I used to take the airport bus from the Loop, because it was the cheapest way to get there."

In the years since, he's made a career with his voice, including stints on "Press Your Luck" and as the announcer on the sitcom "Soap." ("These are the Tates, and these are the Campbells," he intones, giving a demonstration.)

On "The Price Is Right," he's famous for his colorful silk shirts, which he has made when he travels to Chaing Mai, Thailand.

And now, he's making the grand tour of Harrah's. His first stop was at the Harrah's-owned Rio in Las Vegas, followed by Harrah's properties in Shreveport and Lake Charles in Louisiana, St. Louis, New Orleans, East Chicago and Joliet. In each market, Harrah's has exclusive rights for 30 days. Harrah's East Chicago has put in 22 nickel games, while Harrah's Joliet has installed 12.

The games use the graphics and sound effects of the game show. At the top of the machine is a wheel designed to look like the one on Showcase Showdown, where players on the TV show take two spins to try to come closest to $1.

"The wheel on the show is big and heavy, so players lift up before pushing down to spin it around," Roddy says. "This wheel does the same thing. When players hit the right combination to spin the wheel, they push a button, and it goes up a little before it goes down and around. All the sounds are authentic, right down to the clicks of the wheel."

Like most video slots, The Price Is Right incorporates a second-screen bonus. This one is based on a popular challenge from the TV show in which players try to guess prices and keep a mountain-climber yodeling uphill without falling over the top.

"We're contracted for 10 versions, and this is the first of 10," Roddy says. "Each one will have a different bonus game. The next generation will have Plinko, which is our most popular game, and the one after that will have Punch a Bunch."

Why a Price is Right slot machine?

"Pearson in Great Britain bought the show, and decided to expand the brand," Roddy says. "One way to expand was to go into slot machines."

There was a little reverse of direction along the way. Slot machine rights were originally sold to Silicon Gaming, makers of the Odyssey video slots and games such as Fort Knox and Lady of Fortune. But as a deadline in its contract with Pearson neared, Silicon sold the rights to IGT.

The game is just the kind of gambling Roddy likes.

"Those who work in a casino would say, no, I don't gamble," Roddy says with a chuckle. "I'm not a math wizard. My favorite game is slot machines."

And his favorite slot?

"The Price Is Right has to be the most fun of any slot machine ever made."

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski