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Reeling in the Slot Tycoons

by heretosee


Also by dragon_cleric

Hullo all, just your friendly Neopian investigative reporter here with a question. Ever feel swindled at the slot machines? Watching them spin, were you certain those reels were going to fall in line, but some hidden force made them land less favorably? Well, do you want to know what that something is? I'm sure you do, and so did I, so I went undercover to find out.

Just a short time ago, Neopia was in an uproar with the discovery of Altador. I took advantage of this rare turn of events to dig into the world of slots. What do slots have to do with the discovery of a new land, you ask? Well, I needed a cover, an excuse for my sudden appearance in the world of slots. The introduction of Altador provided me with just the tools I needed. I decided to impersonate an Altadorian Senator named my alter ego Aunia Pontificus Maximus. Grabbing some elaborately crafted clothes, (complete with an ivy headpiece), I got a hold of a few of the contacts into Neopia's shadier channels. In disguise, I impressed upon them that I was looking for a new line of slot machines to outfit my grandiose mansion. What better way to swindle guests than to get them to give you their money willingly? "You see," I explained, "Altador is a fine place but it lacks a proper casino, and my rich friends love to gamble. I will of course pay generously anyone who can help me best... entertain... my friends with an addictive line of slot machines." Within two days my victims, Neopia's most famous slot owners, took the bait.

I was reclining in my illustrious office, decorated in fool's gold and colored glass gems, my toga-clad Quiggle friend acting as my servant, when a stout Bruce in a tacky shirt waddled his way in.

"Brucey B's the name, my wonderful Altadorian friend. Now, I heard you're looking around for some new slot machines. I assure you, mine are the best in the business."

"Are they?" I asked, trying my best to look somewhat disinterested and nonchalant. "I've heard that there are several makers of slot machines in this part of our fine world; why would I want yours?"

And here, my slot-cheated readers, is the interview that followed.

Senator Aunia: In other words, why should I care who you are, little Bruce?

Brucey B: I happen to be the foremost slot machine owner in Neopia. My slots have provided many hours of enjoyment to my customers. Plus, I have yet to see a Neopian abandon my machines without coming back again later.

Senator Aunia: So does that mean your machines are addicting, or that they are so easy to win NP from that your customers flock to them? My only interest in this deal, Bruce, is how much of their NP I can take.

Brucey B: My profit margin is very considerable. My machines have a low payout but take a lot of NP from my customers. Why, with my earnings I have purchased all the land in the icy caves and even lease it to the various shopkeepers there.

Senator Aunia: You own the Ice Caves? And that big treasure hoarding ice worm I've heard so much about, do you own him too?

Brucey B: Well... he has been a thorn in my side. He is the only holdout from the Ice Caves I haven't been able to buy out. But that shouldn't take much longer. If only he didn't sleep all the time, this business would have been done months ago. But, we digress, is there anything else you would like to know about my wonderful machines?

Senator Aunia: Well, no matter anyway, I've no interest in caves of ice; I much prefer walls of gold. Now be more specific, just how profitable are your machines? I want to make as much NP as I can from my guests, and I don't want them to be aware of this fact. How will your machines take their money, but still keep them foolishly playing and losing more?

Brucey B: On the average, my little business takes in over 50 million Neopoints a day. By far the best slot machines in Neopia.

Senator Aunia: Excellent, but I reiterate. HOW do you keep your victims from realizing they are being swindled? How can they not notice when they pay big and win small?

Brucey B: Aaahh, now if I told you that, you could make your own machines; unfortunately that is a trade secret. Suffice to say pretty spinning wheels can distract from loss of NP.

Senator Aunia: I'd have no interest in paying anyone to build what I can just buy, but I've also no interest in what is a mystery to me, Bruce. If that is your answer you can take your machines and go.

Brucey B: Well, kind sir, if you have a change of mind, feel free to Neomail. Here is my card.

Senator Aunia: Very well. Now leave here.

Brucey B bowed glowering out of the room, leaving without another word. Now I'll admit, faithful readers, that I was furious. All the work I put into this scheme, and I couldn't even find out one slot tycoon's trade secrets? I was moments away from giving up in disgust when I noticed someone watching me from the doorway. And so readers, I sat back and waved my second chance into the room.

"Who, might I ask, are you?"

"Senator," he bowed, "I am Scorchy of Scorchy Slot fame. I have heard that perhaps, wonderful Senator, you desire to purchase slot machines for your guests? Then let mine burn a ‘ole in their pockets!"

I held Brucey's card between my fingers in sight of the famed Scorchy. "I have done some research of my own, Scorchy, and I have noticed that of all machines played in Neopia, none has so low a payout as yours. So tell me forthright, why would my guests want to play your machines?"

And with that, the second interview commenced.

Senator Auria: Well?

Scorchy: Well, bloke, err, ma'am?, my bloomin' machines lure 'em in like ostriches to ‘oles in the ground. It's the mini game they bloody well can't resist. They will run right up to that there volcano and not even bat an eyelash at the NP they're dropping in.

Senator Auria: And yet a volcano in a mansion? How on Neopia do I get the NP out after they throw it in?

Scorchy: Well, that be the easy part, all of that is part of the machine, itself. The volcano may look real, but it's all a well greased machine. I'm sure, too, that it'd only compliment any style conscious homeowner's decor.

Senator Auria: Wonderful! So how exactly will I run this machine, that is, how does it work? I prefer to know how my guests are losing their NP, so I know what to deny if the wrong questions get asked.

Scorchy: You will never get any blimey questions, bloke... er... Senator. I tell ya, these machines run 'emselves. I'll even set ya up with the scurvy sea captain and Balthazar for discounts on the prizes.

Senator Auria: Prizes? Oh yes, players on your machine can win treasure maps and bottled faeries, can't they? Well, spending money to make money has never appealed to me; I'd hate to not only have to buy the machines but also buy prizes. Just how much profit will I make, and how will I keep my guests none the wiser?

Scorchy: Well, on average, I make a few million NP a day, but customers never leave. I get so many I have to kick ‘em out so others can play. If I ever upgraded I'd be the richest pet in Neopia, but I like the ambience my little establishment ‘as. The sky's the limit, though; the more machines ya set up, the richer you'll be! I make so much, Senator, because I keep the jackpots low, but the customers come back since they win so often. I have a faerie drop a handful of NP in their laps and they think they've won big! Hahahaha, they still think my slots don't take their money.

Senator Auria: Small jackpots I like, but a few million a day? Funny, I had a Bruce in here earlier claiming he could get me 50 million a day; how many of your machines would I need to match that? Though, that Bruce was too secretive for my tastes. I'm not fond of secretive people, you see.

Scorchy: Well, Senator, I'll let ya in on a trade secret; could ya ask your assistant to leave please.

Senator Auria: Very well, Scorchy, you have my interest. As you wish. Claudio, please take your leave.

Claudio: Yes Senator.

Scorchy: Good, good, ‘ere is how I get rich. I only pay 5 NP per map piece and only 3 NP per faerie from the same sources I am gonna set you up with. Bulk discounts, ya see. Ya only need to tailor your prize payout to best lure in your audience, and they'll think they're profiting from playing your machines. If ya play it right, ya can earn more NP than any Bruce.

Senator Auria: Beautiful, beautiful! Now another matter, you've said your machines practically run themselves? They seem rather complicated to me; just how much NP can I expect to spend on maintenance?

Scorchy: That will be part of the package deal! I've got the finest Korbat repair team that'll fly in to tune ‘em every week; they'll even lend ya a hand at encouragin' your guests out of their NP, if ya catch my drift! Not that you'll find many machines in need of a mechanic's hand, or wing, as it were.

Senator Auria: Korbats? Well, that all sounds good to me. These workers will be paid for by the initial costs of the machines then? I just want all this to be clear, you see; I've no interest in being swindled.

Scorchy: They will be paid from the 1% kickback of your profit margin.

Senator Auria: One percent of a few million NP is a very large amount. I am not sure I like this deal after all.

Scorchy: Well, Senator, it's the best offer I can make. I ‘ave expenses to pay also.

Senator Auria: Well then, I doubt you'll be paying them with my Neopoints. Leave.

Scorchy: If ya change your mind, send me a letter via Uni Express and I will surely come back to Altador. I think if ya reconsider, my good friend, you'll find my offer rather appealing.

Scorchy left with a polite nod, but I was delighted to see he looked less than happy. I had hoped at first to find out more about the workings of his mini game, but his dealing with Balthazar and map dealers turned out to be far more interesting. I knew there was only one more slot tycoon left, and I only didn't have to wait long for him to show up.

The proud pirate swaggered into the room. I tell you readers, I had to bite my tongue rather hard to keep myself from laughing at the way his eyes lit up from my gold décor. I had always found pirates interesting, so it was this meeting I was most looking forward to.

"Ye be the Senator lookin' to up yer loot?" His eyes were still glowing as the looked around the room.

"Yes, that would be me. Tell me... sir... what do you have to offer?"

And so the final interview commenced.

Captain Scarblade: Haaarrrr, matey, I offer ye the best slot machines ever to grace a landlubber's presence. These slots almost take the coin out of the pockets of yer unsuspecting victims. An' they all be victims, ya hear.

Senator Auria: Very nice, very very nice! Though, Captain, I must say I am surprised to see you here yourself, on land of all places. My sources may be off, but I was told a Krawk ran Pawkeet Slots. Do my sources mislead me?

Captain Scarblade: Aye, ye be talkin' bout my faithful first mate, Grimtooth. He be in charge of the gaming halls. But I am the true owner of the business.

Senator Auria: A pirate and a business man? I am impressed. You do know how to steal some pretty NP. Now tell me, how will your machines steal it for me?

Captain Scarblade: It be all about them thar dubloons, ya see, and ridiculously high jackpots that I make sure are rarely won. Them thar landlubbers luv the feel of good coin, and will spend thar NP in the hopes of gettin' some of me dubloons.

Senator Auria: And yet, this still worries me. Even if the jackpots are rarely won, if they are as high as you suggest I'll still be losing NP. I do not like the sound of that at all.

Captain Scarblade: Mwahahahahaha. Surely, ye don't comprehend, it be simple. Ye give ‘em lots of ways to play, and they spend more and more in the hopes of winning that thar jackpot. For every million NP I give out, I grab me 40 million NP, and the higher that thar jackpot gets, the more landlubbers show up. Sides, what's to keep me crew from... winning... the jackpot from time ter time and... sharing... it with me?

Senator Auria: This sounds like an interesting system, to be sure.

Captain Scarblade: Ay, this here system be the best of any in Neopia. It will work beyond even yer wildest dreams.

Senator Auria: Better than the systems of the little Bruce and Scorchio I had in here earlier? Pffft, how?

Captain Scarblade: Let me ask ye a question; if you gave me 40 million NP, wouldn't ye be happy if I gave ye a million back instead of nothing?

Senator Auria: I think, if I had a brain, I'd be angrier that you still had 39 million. My guests aren't bright but they aren't entirely stupid either. What on Neopia is their motivation to keep coming back?

Captain Scarblade: As I said, their own greed will bring ‘em back. Truuusst me. Greed is a powerful motivator. Them thar landlubbers will keep tryin' to get their NP back at whatever it costs them. Landlubbers and thar coin are easily parted, and when ye throw a chance of winning a Dubloon in there?

Senator Auria: So I convince them they can win their Neopoints back? I shall think on this then; anything else?

Captain Scarblade: Sorry, but that be no, Senator. I hate to have to leave, but it almost be high tide and the Pawkeet must sail, I'll leave this here Pirakeet for you to contact me. Thar be a ship I must be "meeting" at sea.

Senator Auria: Very well, Captain, very well, and farewell!

I had to laugh as he left, the blade of his dagger scraping along the wall, taking some of my "gold" with it. I had never known it was Scarblade who ran the pirate gambling scene, though now I knew how Grimtooth got away with using the Pawkeet's name.

And so, my friends, as you read this, so too do three slot machine tycoons. You can be assured that they sit in a rage right now, their secrets exposed for all of you to see. Brucey's shady real estate dealings in Terror Mountain, Scorchy's Balthazar connections, and above all that the whole lot of them, Scarblade especially, really seem to doubt your intelligence. You can be assured, though, you swindlers, that my readers will never again be fooled by the allure of Neopia's slots. And Captain Scarblade? YOU can be assured that I am very happy with my new Pirakeet.

Lawyerbot disclaimer: Gambling may be addictive. If you feel you may have a problem, please seek professional help. And don't play in volcanoes.

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