South Point casino has invested "millions" in Bally's iView technology, which is supposed to bring the excitement to table gaming to the slots floor. And they are using horse racing to do it:
- The iView system, created by Bally Technologies, brings virtual horse racing to slot and video poker machines at South Point. Video screens added to the casino’s existing machines allow everybody playing to see, and potentially participate in, a horse race bonus round. Players can pick from a field of animated horses on a touch screen and win extra playing credits if their pony comes in first.
To engage players, the casino will trumpet “First Call” over a loudspeaker, and an announcer will call the minute-long race.
This brings up my conundrum. My bog. My enigma trap for the morning, if you will.
- If horse racing is boring, why are they using it to stoke slot machine play?
- If horse racing is helping slots, why aren't slot machine makers subsidized with racing revenues?
- Why use a virtual horse race when they can use the real thing?
- If horse racing is so exciting, why are all these people sitting at a mindless machine and not across the hall to watch the third at Beulah?
- I thought racing was slow and slots were fast, hence we can't compete? Why are they using a minute long horse race every twenty minutes or so?
- Does anyone have a clue what was going on in the movie 12 Monkey's?
I think the answers are kind of clear, despite on the surface this going against much of what we've heard, and feel about the gambling landscape.
Why are casino's using racing to help their business? Because it will work. Machines like "Wheel of Fortune" draw people to them, because of the spin of the wheel. Everyone has seen the show and can likely spell the word "Woolery". When that wheel spins, people watch, and they want to play for a shot at spinning that wheel. People know horse racing too - it's an easy game to understand, the horse who wins, wins. It can draw people to your machines, in the hopes of winning the bonus round.
Perhaps fifty years from now some may ask why racing has fallen so far down the chain. They'll wonder how the gambling sport - the sport that everyone knows, the sport who had a brand, the sport who had a monopoly - could not succeed against virtual horses. The answer will, in part, be something about innovation, testing, pricing, investment and marketing - the things Bally's and South Point do well.
When slot machines can use what racing puts on every day to generate excitement, while racing is unable to, it's probably the only answer that makes sense.