Lights flash and bells jingle on most casino slot floors, but one brand of machines is really catching players’ eyes.
The games are made by AGS and packaged in cabinets with 498 LED lights. AGS calls the flashy cabinets Orion. (You see, Orion was a hunter in Greek mythology, and a prominent constellation located on the celestial equator is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky. They say these slots are like that.) Popular titles include Fu Nan Fu Nu, River Dragons, Wolf Queen and Winter of the Dragons.
Officials say Orion has already surpassed performance and sales expectations with more than 350 units currently installed and nearly 700 more installations scheduled.
That includes in South Florida, where Hialeah Park, Calder Casino and Seminole Classic began offering games in Orion cabinets earlier this month.
“They’re just beautiful machines,” said Tony Presutti, director of slot operations at Seminole Classic. “Gorgeous.”
Presutti said the titles are capitalizing on a trend — Asian games have shown an increase in popularity — and Seminole Classic players enjoy a must-hit jackpot feature set at $5,000 for the bank of four River Dragons games, set up back-to-back with four Fu Nan Fu Nu games.
“When it gets close to that $5,000, there’s a frenzy,” he said. “I walked in this morning and they were all already full.”
The Seminole Tribe’s larger South Florida properties, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and Seminole Coconut Creek, will have them by Aug. 1.
The statistics support the notion that players have an eye for Orion: AGS officials note that in many cases their machines are doing much better than what an average machine takes in at a casino.
Skyelar Perkins, senior director of slot operations at Choctaw Casinos & Resorts in Oklahoma, said his machines are doing five times what the average machine collects.
As the machines rolled out last year, Casino Journal magazine listed the Orion cabinets as one of the casino industry’s top 20 innovative gaming technology products for the year.
The Isle Casino and Racing in Pompano Beach again led South Florida racetrack casinos in slot revenues, collecting $140.2 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. Next were: Magic City Casino in Miami ($80.6 million), Calder Casino in Miami Gardens ($78.1 million), Hialeah Park ($73.7 million), Casino Miami ($63.7 million), Gulfstream Park ($45.6 million), Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach ($44.5 million) and the Casino @ Dania Beach ($22.9 million).
Slot revenues at South Florida racetrack casinos rose by more than 2 percent this fiscal year compared to last.
The racetrack casinos compete against the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which had seven casinos collect about $2.4 billion over the same period. The tribe does not release its figures, but past reports have put the Seminole Hard Rock in Tampa near $900 million a year and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood near $550 million. The tribe has an agreement with the state that allows them blackjack and other table games, which the racetracks casinos can’t offer. The state’s take from the tribe’s revenue is estimated at about 12 percent.
▪ Hialeah Park has added $1-$3 no-limit hold ’em to its menu of poker games. I’m a normal $1-$2 no-limit player, and found that the pots build a little quicker, meaning that bets after the flop, turn and river often have to be a little stronger if you want opponents to fold.
▪ The Casino @ Dania Beach has a horse racing handicapping contest every Sunday through Aug. 20, with the finals on Aug. 26. The contest is tied to the meet at Saratoga. Prizes include tickets to the casino’s Luxe Buffet and free horse racing bets.
▪ Hunky Mario Lopez, currently host of the news magazine show “Extra,” will be hosting a “Ladies’ Fun Night Out,” sponsored by Lord & Taylor, at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 27, at Seminole Coconut Creek. Tickets are $250 via Ticketmaster. But that prices includes what’s billed as “the Mario Lopez Lounge Experience.” That’s Veuve Clicquot champagne, a Lord & Taylor “swag bag” valued at $125, an exclusive 30-minute “Meet & Greet” with Lopez, as well as an autographed photo. All proceeds generated from the event will benefit Impact 100 of Palm Beach County, which is a women’s charitable organization funding local nonprofit initiatives.
▪ Seminole Classic gives away a Dodge Challenger at 11 p.m. Friday. Eight players will win a share of more than $6,000 Free Play and one gets the car. Players may entries through Friday.
▪ Mardi Gras has “Hi-Lo” from 6-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2-7 p.m. Sunday. Guests will guess if the next chosen card is higher or lower. $500 cash prize for each card guessed correctly.
▪ The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open continues to get love via the card room’s poker promotions. A $25,000 guaranteed, $350 buy-in tournament at 4 p.m. Friday, for example, also awards the top 10 finishers a spot in Step 2 main event satellite, set for 6 p.m. Monday. Those seats are normally worth $300.