Slot players may get new crack at an old video game
Richard N. Velotta, our partners at The Las Vegas Sun
VEGAS, Nevada -- Pong, the game that turned pinball wizards
into video-game junkies in the '70s, is poised to make a comeback
This time, it
could help turn the video-game generation on to slot machines.
Bally Technologies is seeking approval for a Pong slot machine where
a player's video skill would help determine the payout.
we showed it a couple of years ago, there's been a great deal of
interest," said David Schultz, director of video games for
Bally, which has show n the game at trade shows.
Pong and the
twist of a payout based on player s' skills were debated last week
by the state Gaming Control Board. The panel said slot machines
must have an element of randomness in their base game but noted
that Pong's skill element comes into play only in the bonus round
- something not covered by regulations. So, the three-member panel
recommended approval and sent Pong to the Nevada Gaming Commission,
which has to sign off on the concept before it could be played in
If the commission
approves skill-based gaming , Schultz said, it could open the door
to other skill-based games that could be popular with a new breed
of casino gambler - Generation X'ers who grew up with video-game
consoles in their laps.
But Pong is
expected to be popular with Baby Boomers who make up the core demographic
in most casinos and who will view the game with nostalgia.
The table tennis-based
video game now has a distinct retro look and sound. But it was the
first video game sensation in arcades and home consoles in the '70s.
Bally had first
crack at buying the rights to the original Pong video game, but
passed - open ing the door for Atari to make it a hit.
But Bally didn't
pass on the opportunity to feature Pong in a slot machine.
plays like most five-reel video slots but adds Pong logos among
the brightly colored symbols on each reel. Line up three Pong logos,
and the game goes into a bonus mode.
In the bonus
round, the player competes against the machine, playing a 45-second
round of Pong by controlling a paddle with a knob mounted on the
machine. The Pong slot plays true to the original Atari video games,
starting slow in the early volleys and gradually picking up speed
as the game progresses.
The better a
player does, the more he wins.
"If a patron
reaches the bonus round, he has to be awarded a minimal amount,"
Gaming Control Board member Mark Clayton said. "That was one
of the things we required."
calculated the difference in the payout for a player who whiffs
and one who is flawless and beats the game at 7 percent.
another requirement by regulators is signage that clearly explains
that the video-game skill element is a bonus and not a part of qualifying
play. "Our main concern is that the patron has to be aware
that skill is involved in the bonus round," Clayton said.
he doubted skill would ever play a role in a base game because gambling
is popular because every player has the same chance of winning or
losing. But he acknowledged that skilled players have a better chance
of winning at video poker, even though chance is still at the base
of the game, since a good hand is predicated on what cards a player
The Nevada Gaming
Commission is expected to make a decision on the skill-based game
concept at its Thursday meeting. If the concept is approved, Bally
would be allowed to submit the game for lab and field testing. Bally
didn't say where a field test would be conducted.