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Top 10 slots that need to happen

26 October 2015

Last month, the gambling industry was abuzz with news of the new slot games on display at the Global Gaming Expo that will soon be hitting casino floors. Some of the slots in development, like Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black, are based on popular television shows, and they're sure to be huge hits. But none got more publicity than The Simpsons, which led me to wonder: Why did it take 27 seasons before Homer got his own slot?

Many of the most popular new games have licensing deals with iconic popular culture touchstones. Star Trek, The Terminator and The Dark Knight are just a few that come to mind. There's even a slot featuring the gang from Pawn Stars.

The licensing agreements behind these games can be complicated, and sometimes a deal just can't be made. For instance, many gamblers were disappointed when the Lord of the Rings slots were pulled from the gaming floor due to a suit by the J.R.R. Tolkien estate.

As a result, some areas of popular culture haven't found their way to the spinning reels. Others, however, haven't even been considered. There are plenty of slot machines that would beckon to me if I walked by them in a casino, begging me to plunk down $20 just to give the game a try. So listen up, IGT, Bally, WMS, NetEnt and Microgaming. I've got lots of good ideas over here, and I'm giving them away for free.

Here are the top 10 slots that, to the best of my knowledge, don't yet exist, but need to happen now. And in case it's not obvious from my selections, I'm a child of the '80s and '90s.

10. Die Hard
Who wouldn't want to help Bruce Willis sprint across broken glass, leap off a building or solve word problems with Samuel L. Jackson? Intersperse wins with great action scenes from the movie, add in a "Yippee Ki Yay" bonus round (link NSFW due to language) and a heart-thumping soundtrack, and you've got yourself a game.

9. Stephen King's It
Pennywise the Clown is personally responsible for an entire generation's unreasonable fear of clowns. I'm really not a fan of the horror genre, but something about this story captivated me when I was growing up. If you gave me a chance to defeat this clown with a slot game, I'd take it in an instant.

8. Mario Kart
There's never been, and likely never will be, a better racing game than Mario Kart. Don't even try to argue with me on this point. I could play Mario Kart Wii with my 8-year-old son all day and never get sick of it. Part of the game's genius is how it handicaps play. Players in the lead get unhelpful items when they hit a question mark box (seriously, what are you going to do with a single banana peel?), and people way back in the pack get a chance to catch up by turning into a bullet and zooming through the course for a few seconds.

A Mario Kart slot where you could choose a character (Toad every time, by the way) and race to determine how much you'd get in a bonus round would be incredible. And given that skill-based slot machines have now been approved in Nevada, it's not out of the realm of possibility. That said, Nintendo is highly unlikely to license any intellectual property from its games in a gambling device, but a guy can still dream.

7. Deadliest Catch
I don't like a whole lot of reality television, but I have to admit I'm addicted to the Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch. The captains and crew members on these Alaskan crab boats are crazy, and I can't get enough of it. The captains often talk about how fishing is really just one big gamble, so a slot machine seems like a natural fit. Bonus rounds could consist of deciding which captain you'd like to be and where you want to set your gear. You could even get some clues from the late Phil Harris sniffing out crab fart bubbles.

6. Harry Potter
This is another franchise that's never going to end up on a slot machine, at least not in J.K. Rowling's lifetime. The Pig Wizard — originally titled "Harry Trotter" before the name was changed due to some pretty obvious, albeit creative, copyright infringement — is as close as you're going to get.

That said, let's be honest. We want to see Daniel Radcliffe's, Emma Watson's and Rupert Grint's faces portraying Harry, Hermione and Ron taking on Voldemort, not a bespectacled swine with a purple hat.

Throw in clips and music from the movies, "magical" changing symbols and a Quidditch bonus round, and you've got yourself a slot that will get millennials in the door.

5. Cheers
The venerable sitcom set in a Boston bar remains one of my all-time favorite television shows, even 13 years after the series finale.

I'd build the game with "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" as the soundtrack and use Sam Malone, Coach, Norm Peterson, Cliff Clavin, Carla, Diane, Woody, Frasier, Rebecca, beer mugs and cocktails as symbols. I'd add in an "On the House" free spins bonus round, as well as a Norm one-liner bonus round, too.

UPDATE (10/29/2015): I've been informed that WMS actually released a Cheers slot a few years ago. However, as Allen Enquist, the slot compliance analyst for Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino wrote in an e-mail, "Sadly it wasn’t as big of a hit as the show was."

And on second thought, after watching a five-minute video of the game, I'm not sure how long I could deal with hearing "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" on a loop.

4. Lost
Lost was the first TV show I binge-watched.The characters were so captivating that a slot game based on their stories would be sure to draw people in. The bonus round could be Sawyer's Con Game, and players could have the option of the short con with a higher likelihood of success but a lower reward, or the long con, which is less likely to succeed but could pay off with a monster win.

3. Tecmo Bowl
This game is timeless. Need evidence? Check out the Tecmo Bowl version of the crazy punt formation the Colts tried to pull off against the Patriots earlier this NFL season.

A slot version of the game could include some generic football images, but the bonuses would be where the game would get really fun. Give players the option to pick plays and drive down the field, racking up credits with every yard gained. Score a touchdown and win a jackpot!

2. The Office
If Cheers was my favorite sitcom of the '80s and '90s, The Office was my favorite 30-minute comedy from the '00s and '10s. I loved every single one of the characters on that show, and there's so much potential for great content that this seems like a no-brainer. Symbols would include main characters from the show like Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Dwight Schrute and Pam Beasley, but there are so many other characters, like Kevin, Phyllis, Darryl, Tody, Kelly, Ryan and Creed that can't be ignored. Bonuses could be a round of 2-7 Triple Draw with Kevin, the "That's What She Said" bonus, or the player could select a prank for Jim to pull on Dwight. There could even be a David Brent bonus, for those of us who love both the American and British versions of the show.

1. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
I know, I've already got two Nintendo games on this list, but who wouldn't want to play Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! on a slot machine? Characters from the game would be the symbols, and the bonuses would be fights with the best characters, like Soda Popinski, Bald Bull and King Hippo. The best part of this game is that you can create a clear jackpot opportunity: Beat Tyson, and you win big!
Top 10 slots that need to happen is republished from
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.