It’s a vexing problem faced by slot players since the days of one-armed bandits and coin-dropper machines.
A player is parked at their favorite machine when they have to hit the ATM for more cash or run to their car or go to the bathroom. What to do?
Tipping a chair up against a machine has been the universal sign that a slot is reserved. Maybe a player asks an honest-looking fellow gambler to keep an eye on their machine or begs a slot attendant to stand guard.
Las Vegas-based Konami Gaming is solving the dilemma once and for all with a feature that allows players to “lock” a machine for a limited time until they return.
Known as LuckLock, the feature is part of Konami’s SYNKROS player-tracking software system. It’s being used at Resorts World Las Vegas, the $4.3 billion, tech-savvy casino that opened in June on the north end of the Strip.
To use the feature, players must be a member of the Resorts World loyalty program — Genting Rewards — and be using their players card.
If they want to lock their machine for up to five minutes, they activate LuckBox on their screen, cash out and remove their card. The machine will display a “locked” message.
If the player doesn’t return after five minutes, the machine will automatically unlock and is free for anyone to use.
“It can get frustrating to wave down an attendant if a user wants to step away,” said Tom Soukup, a senior vice president with Konami who also likes to play video poker. “Resorts World is making it as seamless as possible.”
Resorts World is still gathering feedback on LuckLock, but so far, it’s been positive, said Zachary White, the casino’s director of loyalty marketing. The feature can be accessed on all 1,400 of the casino’s slot machines.
“During high-volume periods, it’s possible that LuckLock might not be available,” White said. “We’re still testing what makes the most sense, operationally. We’re not necessarily pushing this now, but we are seeing how well it works.”
For now, entry-level rewards club members can lock a machine for up to five minutes. Players at higher tier levels, however, can reserve a machine for up to 30 minutes.
Once Resorts World officials settle on a permanent structure for the program, it’s likely the default lock time will be increased to 10 minutes, White said.
The Strat, which also uses the SYNKROS system, is considering the lock feature, though it’s not available to players yet, a spokeswoman said.
Anthony Curtis, founder of the Las Vegas Advisor gaming newsletter, said LuckLock makes a lot of sense for a certain segment of the casino marketplace.
“It’s very in line with what Resorts World has done as far as their technological bent there,” Curtis said. “Everything they’re doing is based on taking the next step, technologically. I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds awesome.”
Konami’s player-tracking system has been available since 2018 and has been popular at casinos in Canada and Australia, Soukup said. The machine lock feature was first used mostly so high-limit slot players could leave a machine for dinner.
“What Resorts World did was allow all rewards club members to lock games,” Soukup said. “It really is a nice convenience feature, and it encourages people to be part of a loyalty program. Players talk to each other, and if people see that someone else is able to lock a machine, they’re going to be curious about how they could do that.”