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Multilevel Progressives

1 November 2005

Have you taken a ride on Cash Express, gone for the big bucks on Penny Millioni$er or gone for the gold on IGT's Fort Knox?

Who hasn't? Among slot players, those multilevel progressives are among the hottest games around. Every major slot manufacturer wants to get into the act. At the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, Aristocrat Gaming added to its collection of multilevel progressives by showing its new dual standalone series, IGT showed Soul Train, Jackpot Hunter and Party Fever, Bally Gaming debuted Hot Shot, WMS displayed Powerball and Jackpot Party Progressives and Atronic introduced new titles to its Cash Fever system as well as showing its new eMillionaire big-money progressive.

Aristocrat Technologies kicked off the trend a few years ago with its Hyperlink series, featuring four-level progressive jackpots. When you reach the progressive round on the Hyperlink game Cash Express, for example, the train roars through the plasma screen overhead, demanding the attention of customers throughout that part of the casino. At the machine, the player vies for one of four progressive jackpots --- Mini, Minor, Major or Grand.

At the lowest levels, jackpots are small, with $5 or $10 starting points, but they hit frequently. At a busy bank of Cash Express games, the progressive feature kicks in often, building excitement and commanding the attention of passers-by. At the top level, jackpots are much larger, in the tens of thousands of dollars even on a penny game, but hit much less often.

It's a formula that has served Aristocrat well through games such as Cash Express and Millioni$er. And when IGT brought out its own multilevel game last year, Fort Knox, the game became one of the hottest in the casino industry.

Now everyone wants a piece of one of the fastest-growing pieces of the slot machine universe. In earlier reports from Global Gaming Expo, I've written about Bally's Hot Shot, IGT's Soul Train and WMS' Powerball. But let's take a look at some of the other games in the growing trend toward multilevel progressive slots:

GEORGE LOPEZ, AGASSI and ZORRO, Aristocrat: Multilevel progressive pioneer Aristocrat introduced its "double standalones" --- two-level jackpots stand alone, rather than being linked with other games. In these dual-screened games, players don't have to bet maximum coins to be eligible for the two-level progressive jackpot. They just have to bet at least one credit per payline, and also make a 10-credit ante bet. In the 25-line George Lopez game, that means a 35-coin bet instead of the 500 that would be needed to bet 20 coins per line.

George Lopez, featuring the animated image of the actor and comedian, offers both free spins and a second-screen bonus. Images of Lopez can trigger up to 50 free games. In the bonus round, players become eligible for either the "Major" or "Grand" jackpot, with starting values of about $100 on the Major and $1,000 on the grand. Aristocrat introduced Zorro in a Hyperlink game with a four-level mystery jackpot at the 2004 G2E. In the double standalone version he's back, with familiar characters such as Sgt. Garcia and horse Tornado as reel symbols. And Aristocrat, which last year featured the Pele slot, continues its tie-ins with sports heroes in new Agassi penny slot, featuring tennis star Andre Agassi. Themed bonus rounds have players picking tennis balls or tennis stadiums.

JACKPOT HUNTER, IGT: There may be a nod and a wink toward "Australian-style" games that lead the penny slot market in this five-level progressive with a Outback theme. Australian-style games that use free spins and multipliers to build in more volatility and bigger potential rewards than the second-screen bonuses that have dominated U.S. nickel games. Here, the five progressive levels are called Platypus, Koala, Kangaroo, Crocodile and Great White. Collecting a platypus on a bonus round spin freezes the first reel and gives the player a chance to go for the koala, and so on through the wildlife of Down Under.

JACKPOT PARTY, WMS: Jackpot Party has been an enduring game theme for WMS, from its first reel-spinning version in the late 1990s through several video versions. The Jackpot Party progressives use several different WMS base games, but the progressive round is all Jackpot Party. WMS displayed the progressive version in 2004, but made a big show of it in 2005, with a greater emphasis at G2E in showing games that are closer to being ready for market.

eMILLIONAIRE, Atronic: Atronic introduced its multilevel Cash Fever system last year, and this time around added themes for the base games that go with the progressives. In e-Millions, though, Atronic is trying something different. Bet maximum coins on this nickel game, and you're taking a chance at becoming a millionaire --- the jackpot starts building at $1 million. Bet less, and you're still taking a chance at becoming a millionaire --- except that your prize starts at a million nickels, not a million dollars. Your jackpot level depends on your bet size. Which way do you want to be a millionaire? Another interesting twist: Landing three or four e-Millions symbols on a payline triggers a re-spin feature --- the jackpot symbols are held, and other reels re-spin for another chance to win.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Beat the Odds" tips Saturdays at 6:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 7:41 p.m. and Sundays at 8:20 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 10:42 p.m. on WBBM-AM, News Radio 780 in Chicago, streaming online at www.wbbm780.com

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:

> 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