John Acres – Making Magic in Minnesota


Finding a salesman willing to tell the world he has the next “world/life changing” device, the next best thing to sliced bread,  is not very difficult.  In that regard, gaming no exception.   Gaming has had more than its share of innovations, some of it was successful and important to the industry and some of it was not.  The was not’s are harder to remember because they went straight into the dust bin of history, but some of the successful ones stand out.  When bill validators were introduced, we were told they would change the gaming industry – they did.  When video poker machines were introduced, we were told they would change the industry; video poker did change the industry.  When liked slot systems were introduced, we were told they would change the industry; slot systems did change the industry. When player tracking was introduced we were told they would change gaming; player tracking did change gaming.

However, it has not always worked out the way the salesman promised; when the first video (not poker) games were introduced by Bally, we were told they would change the industry; video slots did change the industry, but it was not those early games, they failed totally.  Likewise, when server-based gaming was first introduced it was to change casino gaming forever – it has not, at least not yet.  The jury is still out on that one; however, I suspect overtime it will like bill validators, video poker and slot systems, the use of server-based gaming will be a fundamental shift in the way gaming floors are managed.

The latest “it will change the industry” claim comes from a man who in fact has changed the industry a couple of time already, John Acres.  He has a not-quite slot machine product that is going into 2500 bars and restaurants in Minnesota.  The state is trying to raise money to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.  Gaming was touted as a perfect way to raise the nearly $1 billion needed.  However, adding slot machines was not a particularly popular idea, specifically not with local Indian tribes, which are major political donors.  The idea of a casino in Minneapolis was floated, but it too had many opponents.  The safest and most politically palatable idea was to expand the use of pull-tabs; and given the state of technology in 2012, it seemed like a perfect solution.  The old pull-tabs could be given a more exciting – and need I add faster and more profitable – format.  Suddenly an old idea, that while it has been quite profitable, but could not be relied upon to raise and extra $900 million or so, potentially had new legs.  Enter John Acres, innovator extraordinaire and instantly, as if by magic, the industry is transformed once again.

A slot machine that is not a slot machine, but potentially as profitable; a game not governed by most current gaming regulations and therefore can be used in many locations heretofore denied to slot machines; Minnesota is the first state, but others will want to skirt public opinion, regulation and contentious political debate when looking for new revenue sources.   Another innovation, in a long line of innovations, that just might change the face of gaming in the entire company.  At least that is what John says.

For decades, John Acres has been creating innovations that have advanced this industry. Maybe you’ve heard of some of them—player tracking, progressives and bonusing, ticket dispensers—even helping jump-start the Gaming Standards Association. And his newest trick: working with his son’s company, Acres Bonusing, on using the iPad™ as a gaming device for casino operators. These inventions, now industry staples, were once scoffed at, but Acres stuck with it, and the outcome has made gaming better. That is what he says the industry needs to advance—innovative thinkers that question the status quo and work to create something great. His passion for change is evident, and most of his beliefs are rooted in simple common sense. Jenessa McAllister, Taaren Haak and Amanda Hugget, Casino Enterprise Management, 7-1-11

“Minnesota will be the first to go live. Virginia passed their legislation before Minnesota did. But Minnesota got it done first. And this is the start of the future. I believe we will see this kind of gaming in 20, maybe 30 other states within the next five or six years. Minnesota is absolutely the leader, and this is the start of a brand new industry,” John Acres said.

The Minnesota Gambling Control Board approved electronic pull-tab gambling this morning. A new iPad-based version of the traditional pull-tab games could start today at bars and restaurants that run charitable gambling. Nevada gambling entrepreneur John Acres’ company makes the games. He says they will spread across the country. Tim Nelson, Minnesota Public Radio, 9-19-12

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1 Response to “John Acres – Making Magic in Minnesota”


  1. 1 Fidel May 16, 2013 at 8:56 am

    I tend not to leave a leave a response, but after reading through some of the remarks on this page John Acres – Making Magic in Minnesota |
    ADAMS – GAMING BUSINESS REVIEW. I do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or does it appear like a few of the responses appear as if they are coming from brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online social sites, I would like to keep up with you. Could you list of the complete urls of your public pages like your linkedin profile, Facebook page or twitter feed?


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