How A Minnesotan Was Deemed A National Slot Machine Champion

How A Minnesotan Was Deemed A National Slot Machine Champion

A local brings a dubious crown back to Minnesota.

Maria Lindell walked into the Palazzo in Las Vegas as a humble slot machine regular from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Little did she know she would be walking out, crowned the best slot machine player in the country.

The first nationwide slot tournament had culled nearly 200,000 entrants across 77 casinos in 17 states down to 88 elite finalists. But only one would walk away with $100,000 and the title.

Slot machines are big business. They are the most popular form of gambling in the United States, and the competition to get them onto a casino floor is cutthroat. Slots have risen above poker, blackjack, roulette, et al because they demand nothing of the gambler but pushing a button. No decisions to hit or stand, no selecting colors or numbers. The loser is blameless. But how does someone become champion of a game that is, well, dumb luck?

The tournament featured a game called TournEvent, created by host Multimedia Games, based in Austin, Texas. Multimedia senior product manager John Carpenter says the tourney added an interactive bonus element, requiring players to tap the video screen at random prompts to receive bonus points.

“The interactive feature is the closest the game gets to ‘skill-based,’ because the players do need to be paying attention to get the points,” says Carpenter. “We don’t want the game to be too difficult because our main demographic is between 55- and 65-year-olds, and we don’t want them to quit if it’s too hard.”

Lindell won her trip to Las Vegas as the champion of the local tournament at Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Onamia. Lindell had to pass through four qualifying rounds to win her ticket to “the show.”

Multimedia is already planning the grandiose-sounding 2014 National TournEvent of Champions.

Hyperbole? Casinos? Who would imagine?