Back in January 2000, Gov. Brian Sandoval, the then-chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, pushed the “Slots for Tots” bill, which banned cartoon-themed slot machines that could appeal to minors.
“This is a remarkable and landmark day,” Sandoval said after the Slots for Tots rule was enacted. “This will be a model that will be followed by the rest of the country, if not the world.”
The law seemed like a near-death knell because it prevented slots makers from using anything that could attract players under 21. The matter wasn’t helped any when Sen. John McCain railed against the then-new South Park slot.
Nevertheless, the casino industry persevered by finding ways around these limiting laws. Now, you’ll find games based on cartoons, sitcoms, reality shows, and movies all over casino floors.
So what changed?
When the Nevada Gaming Commission enacted Slots for Tots, they made distinctions for slot machines where “the theme is attractive to adults because of its nostalgic appeal.”
This paved the way for slots characters that could appeal to adults’ sense of nostalgia like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
Eventually, regulations against cartoon-based slot machines began to wear down. By 2015, the Gaming Commission revised the law to reduce the type of games it covers.
“This was an attempt to streamline the process of getting games approved,” said A.G. Burnett, chairman of the Gaming Control Board. “We eliminated procedural hoops for addressing concerns while making it easier for equipment manufacturers to solve disagreements and address appeals. But the same core principles apply.”
As Vegas Inc reports, this still means that remnants of Slots for Tots remain. But as long as a slot machine isn’t blatantly targeting youth, there won’t be any problems.
“We’ve never had a machine on the floor that we’ve had to pull because it was attracting kids like a moth to a flame,” said Burnett. “It just isn’t happening.”
Considering that casinos already have security and ID checks to prevent underage people from gambling, it’s good that the Slots for Tots has eroded. Because if it were still going strong, we’d be robbed of many popular cartoon slot machines that are available today.
Furthermore, it’s not like a cartoon slot is going to drive a 15-year-old so crazy that they try to slip casino security to play it.