Phone Charging on Slot Machines Needs a Rethink

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During some time at some casinos recently, my mind drifted as it often does to phone charging capabilities at slot machines. What started as a USB port around a decade ago on some machines has evolved where some machines now have added a wireless charging pad for modern smartphones, with some offering both USB and charging pads.

One consistent thought that came to mind: There has to be a better way to do this.

What drove my recent thinking around this was a pretty common one – my phone had gotten down to around 10 percent, and I was just hoping to get some juice from some of the machines to keep things going.

Do you like slot machines with phone chargers?

What got my attention was how many times they didn’t work properly at all, or was laid out in a weird way. I have one of the larger phones on the market, the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but so do a lot of other people, so I don’t think I’m an outlier in what should be expected to work.

Let’s take a look at a few examples. This is not meant to cover all the options out there, but speaks to what I encountered while thinking about this recently.

AGS

AGS bet panel

AGS doesn’t provide wireless charging on their slot machines, but they do have a USB port on newer cabinets. The cabinet features a very large deck for their bet panel, two spin buttons, and space to rest your phone. I appreciate this layout in part because it ensures the phone can rest on the machine and charge.

Ainsworth

Ainsworth bet panel

Ainsworth’s latest slot machine has a USB port for plugging in a phone. That’s certainly helpful. But what their slot didn’t do is create any real room for it. 

The narrowness of the deck where the bet panel is, along with the fact that the screen for the bet panel takes most of the real estate and the rest of the deck is slanted, meant I had to hold my phone while it was plugged in to this machine. This doesn’t really make for a useful design.

Aristocrat

Ainsworth bet panel 1

Aristocrat developed the first slot machine that had a useful phone charging station, which is the machine that you find games like Fu Dai Lian Lian on. The only quirk is that you want to put the phone in the center of the space, but I find I have to move my phone to the left, with the edge of the phone almost sticking out just a bit from the edge of the slot machine, for it to charge. But it works, and works well, from personal experience.

Ainsworth bet panel 2

Their latest cabinet, used for games like Coin Trio and Buffalo Ascension, has a curved edge to the machine, which is also where the phone rests, and trying to rest the phone where the phone charger mark is proves to be impossible for my device. I finally got one of these machines to attempt to charge my phone once, only to stop… then start… then stop, which doesn’t do anything.

So in this case we went backwards, which is a shame.

Aruze

Aruze bet panel

During my trip I found an Aruze game I hadn’t seen in awhile. The machine had both a phone charging port and USB! (It also had ample room to set the phone down – it checked all the boxes.) If only any of the charging options worked! 

I tried all of them, both of the USB ports as well as the wireless charger, and nothing happened. That’s probably the most frustrating aspect, and it’s hard to know whether that’s the casinos and machine maintenance, the slot makers and the quality of what they’re producing, etc., but it’s not a good look for either side.

Everi

Everi bet panel

Everi’s newest machines have a charging port that’s well positioned on a flat surface above the spin button, with plenty of room for the phone to sit.

Lo and behold, my phone charged right away without any fussing. Similar to Aristocrat’s earlier attempt, this is another good implementation that doesn’t try to get fancy.

I’ve felt like Everi has had some thoughtfulness to their cabinet design for years, from how the games can bank to the lighting packages between games. There’s just something a bit different about how they think through it, and it always combines form and function. This is another plus column in their tally.

Gaming Arts

Gaming Arts bet panel

Gaming Arts’ newer cabinet offers a charging position at the top of the bet panel, dead center. The first time I put my phone down it began to charge right away. However, I picked my phone up for a moment while playing, and after putting it back down I couldn’t get it to charge again.

One thing I feel like they got right though is the location of it – it’s more secure than the edge of a slot. I sometimes worry that some enterprising thief will notice a phone on the left edge of a slot and look to take it when someone’s not paying attention. So putting it dead center makes that possibility more remote.

Konami

Konami has put a charging position above their touchscreen bet panel on their new machines. I’ve yet to get my phone to accept a charge on one. The space seems like it’s designed for smaller phones.

Like Gaming Arts, Konami’s is positioned dead center on the top of the bet panel. I think this is just a smart placement, if it can work correctly.

Takeaway

Slot makers make a lot of incredibly complex things happen. However, phone charging is one that’s not a complete win just yet. It’s a great idea, and over time the solutions will improve, but right now almost every manufacturer has work to do to improve their offerings here.

It may sound just like a nice to have, but having a working phone charger that’s reliable could be the difference between a player staying longer on a slot machine. If they can’t get the charger to work, they may move on to a competitor’s machine.

Fortunately I was able to find a couple of machines that allowed me to keep things going, including an older Light & Wonder machine with a USB port – the machine’s been at that casino for years, but the port still works and was among the most reliable. The combination of a working port and a successful session meant I meant the most time on that machine.

How have your experiences been with charging your phone on a slot machine? Share in the comments!


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4 Replies to “Phone Charging on Slot Machines Needs a Rethink”

  • Patrick K says:

    I love the concept but stopped using them when a couple times I forgot my phone on the machine. Luckily it was still there when I got back, but it seems to risky now.

    • I know what you mean, Patrick – I’ve definitely had a couple of those moments where I’ve gotten up and realized I didn’t grab my phone. So far I’ve never not found it when I’ve returned. I’ve had a couple of friends lose track of phones and found them at lost and found or security – I’m actually impressed that phones are generally found again!

  • Lynn S says:

    Thought it was a great idea until I actually left my phone at the machine a couple of times. Luckily, the phone was still there when I went back. Don’t use them anymore!

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