Pull-tab machines alternative to slots

The next “slot machine” you play in a gambling hall may not be a slot machine at all.

Instead, if marketing plans by Trilogy Gaming Corp. succeed, it could be a hybrid of gaming technologies that will create a new revenue stream both for the Phoenix company and for Indian tribes now forbidden to have slots.

Down the road, Trilogy hopes to market its gambling ticket-dispensing machines to other venues, including cruise ships, airlines, hotel-casinos and state lotteries.

But Trilogy is concentrating initially on marketing its machines to Indian tribes because they are more profit-minded and less bureaucratic than state lotteries, said Wayne Mullins, Trilogy’s president and the machine’s inventor.

In particular, Trilogy is targeting tribes that can have bingo halls but, because they lack tribal-state compacts required by federal law, can’t have slot machines.

“They’re more motivated. They don’t know how long the profits will last before the white eyes change the rules,” Mullins said.

Although his company isn’t alone in offering gambling devices to tribes and other casino operators, he said there is a market for his machines and its combination of pre-printed tickets and big jackpots created by pooling revenue from hundreds or thousands of machines.

The tickets, called “pull-tabs,” give players a chance to win in three different games and have potential million-dollar prizes. Players either can open the folded, perforated tickets to find out whether they’re winners, or insert them in the dispenser machine for a visual display similar to those provided by video slots.

Because the tickets already have predetermined results, they don’t fall under same restrictions as slot machines, Mullins said.

To players, however, the devices appear nearly the same as Online Slots, making them good draws for gambling halls which aren’t permitted the machines, he said.

“We designed it to look and sound like a slot machine, but it’s merely a pull-tab dispenser,” Mullins said. “It’s going to be the next evolution.”

State lotteries also could find Trilogy’s machines appealing because the slot machine-like dispensers would not require additional legal approvals, he said.

Federal regulators are now reviewing the company’s filing for an initial public stock offering planned for later this summer.

Mullins, who owns 51 percent of Trilogy’s stock with the remainder held by nearly 400 investors, said the company hopes to raise $10 million, which would enable it to produce at least 300 dispenser machines.

While he and Chief Administrative Officer Jim Pugh declined to identify tribes now negotiating with Trilogy, the company has said joint ventures are being explored for eight bingo halls and two casinos on Indian reservations.

Save money when buying a new computer

So the time has come up trash that old clunker of a PC and pick up a nice shiny new one. Great! While your specific needs may vary, here are some tips to help you save some money on your new purchase.

1. Figure out what you need. Dual-core chips are all the rage now, but do you really need one? These are processors that are essentially two processors in one, making that part of your computer nearly twice as fast. However, most pieces of software (including games) can’t use both at the same time. There are exceptions, such as the latest version of Adobe Photoshop. In addition, if you often run multiple programs at once it can help. Otherwise, just stick with a faster (but cheaper) single-core chip.

2. LCDs aren’t as great as you think. The cool thing now is to get a flat LCD monitor. However, compared to an big, heavy CRT:

– LCDs don’t look as sharp.
– LCDs can’t handle as wide of a variety of resolutions.
– LCDs tend to cost more.

Now, if you need desk space then it might be worth getting an LCD. If not, you might be able to find a sweet bargin on a much larger CRT.

3. Keep your old monitor. Wanna save a couple hundred bucks? Keep your old monitor. If you’ll continue to use your old PC (for the kid’s homework or something), you’ll need to go ahead and purchase another monitor. However, if you plan on not using your old PC any longer once the new one is going, you can just use your old monitor on the new system. There won’t be any compatibility issues.

4. Dude, don’t buy a Dell. Dells are cheap. If you compare the major features of a computer (processor, memory, hard drive, etc), a Dell is the cheapest almost every time. The problem is that they really skimp out on internal parts. If you need to upgrade down the road, you’ll be in big trouble with a Dell.

To use an example, our church just bought a brand new, fairly nice Dell. I needed to add a second video card to it, and had very few options because of how the Dell was built. It didn’t include a PCI-Express slot and it didn’t even include an AGP slot – just some normal (older) PCI slots. This meant that out of the 25 or 30 video cards I was looking at in the store, I could only choose between TWO of them – the rest used PCI-E or AGP.

I don’t fault Dell for this, as they’re in the business of selling computers, and cheap computers sell very well. Just don’t be one of the people that buys one.

5. Microsoft Office vs. OpenOffice.org. One of the biggest expenses when purchasing a new PC is getting Microsoft Office on there – you’re talking about a couple hundred dollars. We all need it – Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, etc. The great news is that there is a free alternative – OpenOffice.org. It is a full-blown office package that is 100% free and 100% legal. I’ll admit that it’s not quick as slick looking as Microsoft Office, but it’s real close. It will read all of their files and it does a nice job. Even if you have MS Office already, go ahead and check it out. www.openoffice.org

6. Virus scan is optional. I considered not putting this item on here, but thought I’d share my views. Running a virus scan program such as Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee Virusscan is a HUGE resource drain. They’re constantly monitoring your system and really make it run much slower than it needs to. If you are a semi-literate computer user and you keep your Windows Updates current, odds are that you’ll never catch a major virus. Realize that it’s a slight gamble, though.

Here’s the magic – your computer can’t “catch” a virus. They don’t just slip in there like a germ in the air. You need to work to get a virus – open an infected e-mail, download an infected program, etc. You still should run a system-wide scan from time to time, but there are free programs that do this just as well as the commercial ones. Your best bet is likely Avast (www.avast.com). Dig around on their site and you’ll find the free edition.

Now, if you tend to download a lot of software, or have friends over that like to download stuff, you might want to consider sticking with a full-blown AV program like Norton or McAfee just to be safe. If not, then this is a good place to save $50.

Beyond those items, it’s just a matter of what you want. It’s a tough line to spend as little as possible but still try to buy something that will last for years to come. If you have specific questions about “what should I buy?”, feel free to ask me and I’ll try to help you decide.