(clicking on the photos will take you to the full Bally Technologies Tour Gallery)
Was very lucky to be granted a tour of Bally Technologies‘ headquarters in Las Vegas June, 2011. Surprisingly the campus is huge containing three buildings, a development building where all the fun really happens, a main admin building and a warehouse. Bally also has warehouses in other locations around Las Vegas for additional storage needs.
After arriving to meet Riley, we chatted for a bit in the main reception area. Hopefully I hid my excitement well as I was surrounded by the new Hot Shot slot, a U-Spin slot and stood only feet away from a showroom full of new slot machines. Best part about it, they weren’t screaming for money! They are demos.
The tour was of the production facility and was given by Greg McFalls, Manufacturing Assembly Director of operations. Once we walked through the door I was shocked at what I saw. As I looked out over the hundreds of slot machines that were on the floor in varying stages of production, I felt as if I had already been to this facility. Why would I feel this way? Well, my background is almost entirely in warehousing and much of that was in the automotive industry. What I was looking at was a much smaller automotive type assembly facility!
Don’t worry, I won’t bore you all with Kan-Ban, FIFO, and 5 S theories and descriptions. But I must say, many of the successful production techniques being used are straight from the auto industry. Bally has implemented the tools very well and should be proud of the results they are or will be seeing from all the hard work it takes to implement these projects.
Back to the good stuff. The Bally facility has the room to run four lines simultaneously of production if needed. In a nut shell, they have a components line and an assembly line which mates the guts of the machines with the cabinets, the combination of the two being one production line. The day I toured they were running three sets of lines, or three production lines.
The components lines are tasked with the buttons, wires, circuits, lights and other small pieces parts of the slot machines. The assembly line takes the “guts” of the finished components lines and installs them into the cabinets. Each unit is tested on the assembly line once it is assembled, and then again at the end of the line. The QC tester is empowered to reject a machine for any defect in production. No one wants a slot machine that only works 90% of the time, and Bally knows that!
From start to finish a machine build takes roughly 2 hours, depending on the game style and what needs to be done to the unit. Surprisingly, Bally not only builds new games but they also refurbish old ones as well. They can turn a Hot Shot into a Mega Spinner if the owner (casino) wants it. Totally amazing to think you probably played the same cabinet with two or more different slot titles inside!
Not all machines are owned by the casino. Aside from the mega casino groups, some machines are owned by Bally on a sort of lease program with certain properties. The ins and outs of why and how this is done are too numerous to mention here. But if the conditions are right, Bally places machine they own into casinos, more or less.
Also what was very enlightening to find out was the logistics part of the puzzle, the shipping of the slot machines. I would guess most people think the slot machines get shipped to XYZ Casino, the end user. Not true at all! Many casinos are owned by larger corporations or are part of large multi-casino companies, as example Station Casinos in Las Vegas. Station Casinos owns all casinos with “station” in their name, Palace Station, Texas Station, Boulder Station to name a few as well as the Fiesta casinos, Red Rock, Aliante and Green Valley Ranch! Not to mention the Wildfire casinos.
So, many of your favorite slot machines go from the manufacturer to a warehouse to be then shipped to the individual casino where we enjoy them. Having learned this, I will no longer get mad at the slot makers for not listing locations on their websites! It really is hard to keep track of a unit when you ship it to adistribution warehouse, not the casino itself where the machine will be installed.
As the production tour wound down, taking one last look around the facility I was able to spot a pallet of Hot Shot Cash Wheel wheels sitting in a rack. Pretty neat to see the parts before they are put together. The photo is below.
We then headed into heaven, I mean the showroom. It is like having your own little casino where all the machines will sing the highest payouts for free! Downside, no actual payout. By this time in my visit to Vegas I had already played 90% of the slot titles in the showroom, yes I have been known to spend a dollar or two in a slot machine. So rather than playing the machines had a great conversation discussing the how’s and why’s a slot title gets produced and then purchased. It’s a no brainer that a successful first title will be a huge hit in a follow up title, example being Hot Shot. That is in what seems like it’s 20th release title. Look for the review of many of the Hot Shot flavors in up coming posts.
The new titles that are not tried and true, that is where the guess work and planning is placed. I can still recall my first visit to the M Resort and Casino. After getting beyond the newness of the location, the first thing I noticed was that all the slot machines had commercials on them when not in use by a player. Never saw this before in Vegas. Wynn Las Vegas was pretty cutting edge having Steve Wynn talk to you during bonus games on Wynn themed slots, but these ads were on every machine! That is cutting edge in the gaming industry and Bally knows what cutting edge is and how to place it in their newest titles. Some examples of Bally’s new technology:
Code Red –
this new slot has “curved video reels” technology. This almost totally destroys the line between real reel slots and video reel slots. You almost can’t tell they are video reels that are spinning! Well, wait, they aren’t spinning if they are video.
Cash Spin / Hot Spin –
these slots, Hot Spin being the newest, implore the U-Spin technology where the player actually touches the video display to spin the bonus wheel! Sure you can also press the button that says “Spin” but that’s no fun!
combines U-Spin technology with real time 3D graphics and Bally’s Ideck technology. The Ideck is a touch screen button panel replacing the plastic buttons of old. Imagine sitting down at a machine knowing all the buttons will work!
Those are some ways new titles break into the gaming world. Of course, nothing beats good old fashion stacked wilds and loads of re-spins! Seems there is a very good marriage when real reels are paired with a top box video 3D bonus. Both traditional slot players and new slot players will be able to enjoy the game.
Bally Technologies is ready for the next newest, wildest, cutting edge title in the gaming industry. They also have built a very lean, efficient production team to ensure timely manufacturing and shipping practices to their customers.
Would like to thank Riley and the whole Bally Technologies family for allowing me to tour their facility and snap some photos.
See all the photos from the Bally tour by visiting the Bally Technologies Photo Gallery by Hank Plumley.