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New Slots from Bally Gaming

11 February 2003

A couple of decades ago, Bally Gaming was THE big name in slot machines. That changed with the ascendance of IGT, which today is by far the nation's leading manufacturer of slots.

Bally has stepped up its aggressiveness in recent years, encouraged by the success of its Betty Boop series and other games such as Popeye and Blondie. Last year, it unveiled its high-definition EVO video platform, along with EVO hybrids that combine reel-spinning games with bonus rounds on a video screen in the top box. One of several companies seeking to increase its share of space on casino slot floors, Bally promised to put 100 new games on display for the Global Gaming Expo in September in Las Vegas.

There was no way I was going to be able to try out 100 games by any one manufacturer, but I did spend a couple of hours at the Bally's booth, trying to get a feel for what the slot maker is up to. There was nothing as innovative as the EVO system, and no one game really knocked my socks off. What I did see was a very solid collection of games and themes that are certain to appeal to slot directors and players alike.

One of the major trends in the industry is basing slot games on pop culture icons, and Bally has plenty of games with familiar themes--To Tell the Truth, The Lone Ranger, Andy Capp, even a game themed on the ubiquitous "Dummies" books, a slot called Winning for Dummies.

Beyond the themes, Bally is making a big push to increase its share of space for wide-area progressive slot systems. Wide-area slots are the games that link several casinos to a large common jackpot. Bally brings a new wrinkle to the progressives with its Cash for Life system. Instead of the progressive meter displaying a total jackpot amount, it's broken down to a weekly award--the player who hits the jackpot wins a minimum of $1,000 a week for life.

The Cash for Life jackpot system can be matched with several base games, including old Bally favorites such as Blazing 7s and Double Jackpot. There's a game called Cash for Life Offer Bonus, along with Two Times Pay, Wild Times, Rich and Famous, Cash for Life Concentration, Cash for Life Bob Eubanks and a couple of Saturday Night Live-themed games--The Blues Brothers and Pumping Up With Hans and Franz.

There actually are four Saturday Night Live games, with the reel-spinning Blues Brothers and Hans and Franz games joining two multiline video slots--Church Lady and The Coneheads. I took time out to test the Coneheads game and its two bonus rounds. One, called the Win Mass Quantities bonus, features a spaceship bouncing off planets on the video screen, with the planets revealing bonus awards. The other is the Senso-Ring Toss, which SNL fans will remember from the old Coneheads skits in which the adult characters had, ahem, marital relations by tossing rings over each other's cones. On the slot machine, Senso-Ring Toss features animation of either Jane Curtin's Prymat or Dan Aykroyd's Beldar Conehead character. The player selects a Conehead, then touches rings on the screen to send them flying toward the cone. The more rings that land on the cone, the bigger the bonus.

I also stopped to try another old TV theme--To Tell the Truth. It's a multiline video slot with reel symbols associated with the show, including crossed fingers, the words "Trust Me" and a "To Tell the Truth" show logo. When the player lines up three, four or five adjacent show logos, it launches a bonus round that plays like the TV show. In my trial run, I was asked which player was a dog expert. One of the contestants was a dog-I thought that might be a clue. Alas, when the players on the screen had finished their half-stands and sit-downs, faking out the "audience," it was a human figure standing up. For barking up the wrong tree, I had to settle for a smaller bonus.

Winning for Dummies has a bonus round based on book titles from the series. When three, four or five Chalkboard 7 symbols line up, players are given five "Dummies" book titles--among them "Sex for Dummies," "Cooking for Dummies" and others randomly chosen from among 30 titles. After the player chooses a title, the "Dummies" man, the character with the triangle-shaped head that gives out pointers in the books, leaps to the chalkboard, scribbling away and raising a cloud of chalk dust. When all is clear, the chalkboard reveals a self-help tip in line with the title selected, and a bonus multiplier is revealed.

You get the idea. It's a good, solid selection of themes and bonus rounds that should help cement Bally's place among slotmakers.

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