While many manufacturers pile on the bonus features, incorporate bonuses within bonuses, create hundreds of paylines, allow players to customize the look and feel of their slot machines, and even synchronize the movement of the seat with the action on the screen, Lightning Gaming has introduced Penny Palooza - so easy to play and understand, even a novice will catch on quickly. In addition, there's a local angle: Lightning Gaming is headquartered in the Philadelphia suburb of Boothwyn, Pa.
The set-up: Five stacked progressive jackpots ranging from at least $10 to several thousand dollars is the first thing to catch your eye as you approach Penny Palooza. Even the name lets you know that you wont have to blow the budget to have a good time.
A 32-line penny machine, minimum bet is 40 cents (one cent per line, plus a premium for the bonus); maximum bet is $1.60, with bets of 80 cents and $1.20 in between. All winning lines are multiplied by the bet multiplier.
The base game has just nine boxes think of a tic tac toe board with a frame around it. Symbols are reminiscent of the old original mechanical slot machines: 7s, bells, plums, cherries and single, double and triple bars. There are no wilds, but the Penny Palooza logo pays as a scatter (see below).
How it plays: Three matching symbols or mixed bars in predetermined patterns across the columns or among the three rows pay based on the initial bet. Because of the screen layout, four or more matching symbols might generate wins on two or more paylines. Four or more Penny Palooza logos pay as scatters. At less than max bet, scatter pays range from 45 cents to $1,500.
Play max bet, get from five to nine scatters, and youll win the corresponding progressive.
Bonus feature: Three cent symbols on the middle row trigger the Piggy Pick Bonus (also called the Piggy Bank Bonus on one of the Help screens). The first thing youll see are nine piggy banks. Pick a bank to start the bonus and determine your first multiplier. Multipliers match the value of the coin you reveal behind the selected pig: penny, 1x; nickel, 5x; dime, 10x; quarter, 25x; half dollar, 50x; dollar, 100x.
Next, youll see a spinning coin. Correctly choose heads or tails before the coin stops spinning to earn an additional pick. Continue picking banks until you make a wrong heads-or-tails call, or all nine pigs have been selected. When the game ends, all the multipliers are totaled and multiplied by the total bet to calculate your win.
Watch a video about Penny Palooza, uploaded by the machine's manufacturer, Lightning Gaming.
Where you can play it: At Borgata, Penny Palooza is located against the wall next to Wolfgang Puck American Grille. At Golden Nugget, as you enter the casino Penny Palooza is located just past Grotto on the right off the main aisle. At Trump Taj Mahal, Penny Palooza is located to the left of the table games tournament room, just outside the high-limit slot area.
Recreational gambler Darryl McEwen, a former professional journalist, is president of his own consulting firm that manages several small national and international trade associations, and provides public relations and fundraising services for a number of charitable organizations. He is based in Wilmington, Del. His column appears every other week.