5 Weird and Wonderful Slots in Downtown Las Vegas

by Jeff Harris
on May 3, 2018

Weird and wonderful: two words that perfectly describe Las Vegas. Well, I suppose that is depending on how you plan your trip to Sin City. There are some of us that keep a little more weird than wonderful in the balance.

In fact, I’d say the most wonderful parts of Las Vegas are the weird ones. If you fall into this category too, what should you see? Where can you indulge in both the entertaining and the bizarre?

If I were to sketch out every strange form of entertainment in downtown Las Vegas, it would take ages. So, let’s tighten the focus a bit and pick just one item of this crazy city: slot machines.  They’re iconic, noisy, flashy, and in some instances, utterly whacky. A slot machine can be a good entry point for the weirdness, too. Perhaps you’re looking to dip your toes in first before taking the plunge into absurdity.

I’ve picked five different specific slot machines that are definitely worth a trot out to see. These machines are elaborate, unique, and in one instance, a way to gamble on a historic disaster. If you’re prone to contemplation, you may want to bring a healthy dose of gallows humor for that one. If that doesn’t qualify as both weird and morbidly wonderful, I have no idea what would.

Sigma Derby

Ahhh, Sigma Derby. I have such a soft spot for this machine. It’s utterly impractical, but also beautiful. Sigma Derby is oversized and breaks down often, and the manufacturer is long out of business by now. This is one of the reasons why you can only find it at two casinos in Las Vegas: The D, and the MGM Grand.

I suppose whoever made this machine decided one classic form of gambling wasn’t enough. Sure, a slot machine is a well-loved cliché…but what if you could cram an entire horse track into that slot machine?! Sounds like double the crazy fun, right?

At least, that’s how I imagine the design process went. This machine does, in fact, have an entire miniature horse track smack dab in the middle of it. The horses have individual odds, which is a nice twist. The stakes are low as well, making it friendly to a wide range of players.

Honestly, if I can nerd out for a moment, Sigma Derby is worth peeking at just for its incredibly unique design. It is a work of art.  It’s been labeled a “designation game” for a good reason. If you’re looking for something both odd and beautiful, definitely check out Sigma Derby.

Golden Nugget’s Huge Machine

Yeah, this is more or less precisely what its name implies. This is just a humongous, oversized, stupidly giant slot machine that you can play. You’ll find it at the Golden Nugget Casino.

It may look like something from the set of The Price is Right, but you’ll find this slot at the Golden Nugget. Now, if you’re uncomfortable with feeling a bit conspicuous, this probably won’t be the ideal machine for you. If you don’t win anything at all, pulling the arm on this device feels like standing in a spotlight.

It’s known for attracting crowds. I mean, can you blame the spectators? The machine has four reels that are about the size of a regular slot machine on their own. It also measures over 8 feet tall. If you happen to win, there’s no doubt that everyone in the vicinity will notice.

Don’t miss this enormous oddity. If you have stage fright, just indulge in a couple of beverages and soak up the attention. There’s no other machine around that feels as momentous when you pull the arm.

Golden Gate Classics Collection

Golden Gate has the esteemed designation of being Las Vegas’s oldest casino.

Appropriately, Golden Gate has a selection of classic slot machines that are still operable. There are plenty of other locations that display vintage slot machines, but not many will let you play them.

The machines are preserved beautifully. If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll certainly get a sense of wonder as you play machines that date back to the beginning of the 20th century. This was a period when slot machines were commonly marketed as distractions for the bored wives of table players.

Of course, we live in more enlightened times now. Wives are equally as likely to be winning (and losing) money at the tables as their husbands. However, if your significant other gets on a hot streak and you’re feeling a little left out, why not tap into the original purpose of these vintage machines and give them a spin?

Silver Strike

Silver Strike machines can only be found at two locations in Las Vegas: El Cortez and Four Queens. Despite the limited sites, many people consider this specific slot machine to be worth a journey.

This slot machine has a legitimate fan base. I can’t think of too many others that can claim that. In fact, when you run a Google search for a Silver Strike machine, one of the most common searches is “Silver Strike machine for sale.” You know a machine has something unique to it when slots hobbyists are looking to acquire one!

Honestly, I can’t say that I understand the appeal of having a slot machine in your living room. I’d instead go try and “strike silver” on a casino floor and save the space.

The primary appeal of this machine is its unique payout. Silver Strike machines, in keeping with their name, spit out silver coins for winnings. The value can range from $10 to $300. The higher-value ones tend to come out with a protective cover.

As you can see on the fan website, people tend to hold onto the coins. If you’d rather cash them in, then you can, of course, do so with the casino’s cashier.

Titanic

Okay, I’ll come clean: you have to be a bit historically minded to see the weird in this one.  A dark sense of humor will help tap into that wonderful, too.

This Bally-made machine is a spin-off from the blockbuster movie everyone loved twenty years ago. Licensed slot machines are undoubtedly old news; I’ll admit that. Still, can you claim in good conscience that it isn’t bizarre to see people cheer when they spin for three icebergs? This is hard “too soon” territory, but it fits into the category of “weird” in my mind.

This machine captures the Las Vegas spirit perhaps better than any other. I’d say no other machine on the list manages to capture the optimism of gambling money right alongside such a weirdly fatalistic theme. After all, over a thousand people died on the real ship!

If it all feels a bit odd, maybe you can donate some of your winnings from this machine to victims of sea vessel accidents. That should straighten out the karma of celebrating those icebergs.

Wrapping Up

You’re going to spoiled for choice is you’re searching for the weird and wonderful in Las Vegas. If you’ve got a specific penchant for slot machines, you can trust the list I’ve put together here to steer you in the right direction. There are cult favorites, disaster games, and trips to Las Vegas’ historical past to experience. I can assure you, these slot machines are well worth checking out, so get to it!

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