For many years, Atlantic City casino wanderers have been liable to notice a small backup of slot machine players waiting for an open chair to pop up among some very specific — and extremely popular — machines: the Wheel of Fortune games.
Now, BetMGM on Tuesday announced an agreement with Sony Pictures Television and International Game Technology (IGT) to launch “Wheel of Fortune Casino,” described as “the first full brand-led online casino in North America.”
According to the partners, more than 250 versions of Wheel of Fortune slot games have been introduced over the last 25 years. And it’s only appropriate that the launch will kick off sometime later this year in New Jersey, arguably the most innovative state in the U.S. when it comes to new gambling options. In May, “fixed odds betting” debuted at Monmouth Park, while esports enthusiasts can now legally bet on their favorite players and games.
“Wheel of Fortune is watched nightly by millions of people, and BetMGM is honored to partner with Sony Pictures Television and IGT to bring this online casino experience to life,” BetMGM Chief Revenue Officer Matt Prevost said in a statement. “Once live, Wheel of Fortune Casino will offer players the excitement of their favorite game show and real money wagering in the palm of their hand.”
Enrico Drago, CEO of Digital & Betting for IGT, added, “We’re excited to celebrate the evolution of the IGT Wheel of Fortune slot brand with BetMGM and Sony Pictures Television through the launch of Wheel of Fortune Casino. The Wheel of Fortune brand has been synonymous with slot gaming for more than 25 years, and this unprecedented brand-led online casino, driven by BetMGM’s compelling platform and promotional capabilities, is well-positioned to engage and entertain new and long-time players.”
Officials for BetMGM, which is headquartered in New Jersey, said that responsible gaming education remains a key focus for the company, including a partnership with GameSense and its responsible gaming tools.
Recent ‘Wheel’ jackpot winners in NJ
While casino visitors like the “Wheel” slots because of their fondness for the game show, occasionally the machine provides a lot more than mere nostalgia. For instance, last September a female Jersey Shore resident playing a Wheel of Fortune Progressive Jackpot machine at Resorts casino on the Atlantic City Boardwalk won a whopping $1.64 million.
According to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, there was a $101,000 winner on PlayMGMcasino.com on a Wheel of Fortune game on May 9 — as well as an $80,000 “Wheel winner” at the Hard Rock casino on March 31 on a machine with a $100 denomination wager. And back on Feb. 9, a lucky Wheel player cashed $52,500 on Caesarscasino.com.
A key part of the game show’s allure seems to be familiarity. Pat Sajak and Vanna White have been hosting and turning letters for four decades, so even those who may have not seen the program for a number of years can return to the “same old game show” without missing a beat.
Photo: Ed Komenda/Reno Gazette Journal