Innovator In Slot Machine Design Dies

Robert Manz was the designer of some of the most successful slot machine games in history — Blazing 7s and the Black and White slot series. He died in a traffic accident in Las Vegas over the weekend at age 65. He had a 23 year career with the predecessor companies of Bally Technologies and served as president of Las Vegas-based Rocket Gaming Systems.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, a brief remembrance of a man who changed casino gambling. Robert Manz died last weekend at age 65. He was the creator of popular slot machine games such as Blazing Sevens.

(SOUNDBITE OF SLOT MACHINES)

SIEGEL: In the game, the machine teases players with near-wins. You'd get a seven, another seven, then a blank. And Manz designed his games to do something you might not expect at your average casino.

CHARLIE LOMBARDO: In his games that he would design, he would design it so players could win.

SIEGEL: That's Charlie Lombardo, an old friend and former colleague.

LOMBARDO: He felt that there's times it was good for a player to go home with money in his pocket, that the casino shouldn't always take it all and send them home broke.

SIEGEL: And casinos that used Manz's creations didn't go broke either. Lombardo says the games were a mainstay of Bally Technologies, the company where Manz worked for more than two decades. He was once a military air traffic controller. He then worked his way up the ladder at Bally, learning on the job.

The key, says Lombardo, is that Manz knew winning alone was not enough. To be successful, a game had to be entertaining. But of course, it never hurts to win.

(SOUNDBITE OF FALLING COINS)

SIEGEL: Robert Manz, one of the top designers of casino games, died last weekend in a car accident in Las Vegas.

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