Game Changer: A look into Atlantic City's slot machines

Slot machines are tested and regulated by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement before they are allowed onto Atlantic City casino floors.

Slot machines are tested and regulated by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement before they are allowed onto Atlantic City casino floors. (3/30/16)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Anyone who has ever sat down at one of Atlantic City’s more than 18,000 slot machines may have wondered if the odds are in their favor.

Before any of the slot machines ever make it onto a casino floor, the staff at the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement’s laboratory works tirelessly to test the machines out. Eric Weiss and his team of engineers, experts and programmers examine each slot game and test everything from payouts to odds for the department.

“Before a manufacturer can sell a product or before it can be used on the casino floor, it has to come into our laboratory for an evaluation to determine whether or not it's suitable for use, and that’s based on regulations and technical standards that we have published,” says Weiss.

In addition to making sure a player’s chance to win is fair and by the books, the lab also re-examines a machine from the casino if enough complaints about the game are made by players.

“When it does happen, we immediately talk to the manufacturer and see what their feelings are on the issue,” says testing engineer Charlie Dae. “If it's something we deem as a problem that’s going out into the industry, we revoke it or get them to withdraw it."

Slot machine technology has come a long way since they were first invented. The machines typically no longer feature spinning wheels and levers. Games today often feature touch screen menus and clips from famous movies or television shows.

“It's exciting, it’s challenging, the technology changes constantly and it's a challenge for us to keep on pace with the industry,” says Dae.

As new games continue to enter the market, experts see a trend - away from random chance, to actually incorporating player skill. Manufacturers say that they hope to draw younger Atlantic City visitors out of the casino clubs and bars and back onto the gaming floor.

Slot machine revenue makes up nearly three-quarters of all profit taken in by Atlantic City casinos.  Once every game is tested, it's logged and recorded into a database for proof it passed the rigorous inspection.

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