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article imageOp-Ed: Penny Slots Make Cents and Sense

By Sandy Sand     Apr 19, 2009 in Lifestyle
Ka ching! Penny slot machines. They’re b-a-a-a-ck! Now they’re talking. Just my thing being the “huge” gambler that I am, who can sit in front of a slot for hours mindlessly watching cherries, bars and bells spin.
Any penny, nickel or dime slot machine that has cherries on its gerbil-like wheel of fortune is my machine.
Just to illustrate how mesmerizing slots can be, I will never forget walking through a Vegas casino and seeing a rather young woman, who was quite debilitated, reclining in a large bed-like wheelchair.
About all she could do was feed coins into the machine she and her care giver had staked out. She popped coins into the slot and her aide pulled the lever. Believe it or not, even in her terrible medical condition, she looked happy in her preoccupation; it was as if her problems melted away as long as she was there.
Before you ask, I’m not glorifying gambling or the problems that go hand-in-wallet with excessive gambling; I’m reminiscing about all the fun I’ve had playing the old-fashioned slots before they went all oookie modern, and I'm happy to see penny slots come into their own.
It’s like Mother Nature; there are something you just don’t mess with, because frankly, they’ve taken the fun out of slot machines by eliminating chinging, clinking, rattling coins in exchange for paper betting and paper payouts.
There are still bells, sirens and flashing lights when a big jackpot is hit, but there’s nothing like throwing a coin into a slot, hearing it clink as it drops on top of a thousand other coins, pulling the lever and waiting to see if three cherries will stop in a row.
No more walking the aisles carrying a heavy paper bucket of change looking for the “perfect” machine.
No more anxiously waiting for the nice lady, who’s weighted down with rolls of coins to give you a roll of dimes in exchange for your five dollar bill, or five rolls of nickels for a ten.
No more hearing the happy sound of silvery nickels, dimes or quarters clank noisily into a metal tray, ready for scooping into that bucket you‘ve been carrying around that is either empty or so heavy you can barely manage it.
All the romance has gone out of one-armed bandits with paper payouts and push-button betting. The lever is how they got to be called one-armed bandits. What are we going to call them now? Push button bandits?
That just doesn’t have a ring or a ching to it, nor the romance.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Vegas or Laughlin, but the last time I was in either place, it was easier to find a watering hole in the vast desert surrounding both places than it was to find a penny slot. If they had any at all, there were just a couple, and they were hidden along a back wall in a dark corner of the casino.
No more. They’re up front and anyone can easily get up close and personal with them, because casinos across the country have found that there’s money in them thar penny machines…a lot of money. Million of bits of money that are helping defray the loses casinos are suffering along with all other businesses in these tough economic times.
There’s no penny-pinching when it comes to one-cent slots.
In Missouri last year, the only place where gambling saw an increase, penny slots accounted for more than half the casinos’ revenue. In Nevada, they accounted for a quarter of the revenue from all slot machines. Casinos all over the country are finding that to be true and are taking advantage of it.
The four casinos in Kansas City, Missouri, are like many casino around the country that are patronized by locals, as opposed to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, which are known as “fly-in” casino cities.
Locals who haunt casinos are not high-rollers, who are drawn to the two major gambling cities in the country.
They are mostly people of modest means who enjoy a bit of gambling, and with penny slots can spend hours whiling away time and having fun.
As Kansas City resident Cora Logan, 72, put it as she played a penny slot as part of her and her husband‘s 42nd wedding anniversary celebration:
"It's all just for recreation. When you come here, don't expect to win. If you put a lot of money in these you're crazy."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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