Server-based gaming will give players faster access to new games. You’ll see the latest and greatest from IGT at casinos with sbX before you see them at competitors. That’s because IGT sends a disc with new games to subscribers every month. State gambling regulators must approve all games on the disc, but after that each game is available to load onto multiple machines.
If a game is so popular you can’t get on a machine, just wait. Casino operators can quickly move to convert more server-based machines to run the popular game.
OK, cool so server based slot machines can be updated quickly for new games. Here are benefits and conveniences for players.
IGT’s sbX system includes “Service Window” capability. The Service Window is a video application that can be run even as you keep playing your game. The video reels compress, and the window opens off to the side. You can open the Service Window by touching a screen to check your player reward points, make dinner reservations or check out other casino services. You might also receive unexpected bonuses. When you insert your card, the server-based system can search its database. If it recognizes you as a customer who likes the spa, it can show you an advertisement for the spa, or even offer a comp. It’s the same with restaurants, shows or any other casino amenities. The application can be programmed to search your history, and come up with the appropriate display on the Service Window.
There’s a potential for instant special events, with database sorting active players for inclusion.
You can order drinks and see special players club offers and make dinner reservations while we’re playing slot machines. That’s pretty cool. Cosmopolitan and Aria in Las Vegas (maybe more places) are doing this and it’s pretty cool. What’s especially cool is the ability to use comp or bonus dollars right from your card without having to remember coupons (ehem Caesars). With all this convenience there must be a catch for the player, right? Maybe.
Players have long worried that casino operators would change payback percentages on games — and not for the better. On most slots, changing percentages means opening a game and changing a chip, under gaming board supervision — and that’s the short version, leaving out several steps. It’s time consuming, and it’s apparent to the public. On server-based machines, the operator, under gaming board supervision, can highlight a game — or a whole bank of games — on a computer screen, and change percentages with the click of a mouse.
I’m not 100% sure of the law, but I can’t imagine that it would be legal to regularly change payouts. While I’m sometimes a conspiracy theorist and always on the lookout for shady practices, I haven’t seen anything shady with server based slots.
Even if IGT and Revel decide to play with the payouts these will probably lower denomination games that will have poor odds to win anyway. The difference from a 91% payout to an 86% payout (I believe this is the lowest legal minimum payout in New Jersey) is minimal on $20.
The convenience of getting quicker drinks, making reservations and getting special bonuses and the fun of a newer game far outweigh the possibility that a poor payout will be made worse.