John Acres

Old School Legend

John Acres

Old School Legend

John Acres, CEO of Acres Gaming: Old School Legend

Old School Legend

John Acres is the inventor of the first player tracking system, as well as progressives and bonusing games that greatly define today’s gaming experience. Acres has founded four companies and was inducted into the American Gaming Association (AGA) Hall of Fame in 2016.

This episode discusses the following topics:

  • General background and how John entered the gaming industry while serving in the military (13:00)
  • Getting paid through slot machines due to being underage when he entered the business (16:00)
  • “Slot machines are an interface between two worlds. The front is player happiness and feeling like a winner. The backside is all profit and loss. You have to think about the two separately” (17:00)
  • Working with Steve Wynn in the 1980s and building him a progressive system (19:00)
  • Experiencing near failure building his first progressive jackpot system, which became John’s first patent (20:00)
  • Memorable early patents during his career (26:00)
  • “It’s not about dollars and cents. Gaming is an emotional experience to the player” (28:00)
  • Disassembling one of his kid’s Texas Instruments Christmas present to develop new display technology (29:00)
  • “Human nature never changes, but consumer expectations do” (33:00)
  • Mechanical components of machines being more important to players in the past with coin play (33:00)
  • The industry shifting from coins to bills and discussing ticket-in-ticket-out (TITO) (35:00)
  • John’s style of needing to start from scratch rather than being a fast follower (37:00)
  • The importance of constantly adjusting to player needs and demands (38:00)
  • What John is excited about for the future of gaming technology (39:00)
  • Development of real-time technology for player tracking (44:00)
  • Reasons behind archaic machines in casinos and why technology hasn’t progressed as quickly as it might otherwise (47:00)
  • Consumer needs for immediacy in gaming based on the emergence of companies in other sectors, such as Amazon (50:00)
  • Capabilities of Foundation, John’s newest innovation in the industry (51:00)
  • Gambling stories (54:00)
Quote from John Acres

“Slot machines are an interface between two worlds. The front is player happiness and feeling like a winner. The backside is all profit and loss. You have to think about the two separately”

— John Acres
Quote from John Acres

“It’s not about dollars and cents. Gaming is an emotional experience to the player”

“Human nature never changes, but consumer expectations do”

— John Acres

More about John Acres and his company:

Acres Manufacturing was founded by John Acres, the inventor of casino systems technology. Since 1972, the Acres name has been synonymous with groundbreaking casino technology. In 1981, Acres started his first business, Electronic Data Technologies. EDT created a system that allowed casinos to track slot machine players using loyalty cards, offering gamblers rewards based on how much they played. In 1984, Acres sold the company for $1 million.

He started his next business, called Mikohn, in 1986. Mikohn devised the modern progressive jackpot system in which slot machine jackpots increase over time, creating growing excitement for players. When Acres and his partner sold the company in 1989, Acres’ initial investment of $120,000 turned into $6 million.

His third company, Acres Gaming, invented a system in which slot machines awarded instant bonuses based on current or accumulated play. Acres Gaming took $17 million to reach consistent profitability; Acres sold it in 2003 for $143 million, and the casino industry has been at a technological standstill ever since.

Acres’s newest innovation Foundation is designed to reinvigorate an industry currently incapable of meeting modern consumer demands. Armed with a massive amount of real-time data, an adaptable credit meter on any game, and bonuses deployable to a player’s mobile device, casinos will be able to optimize every customer relationship and maximize long-term profitability.

About MaxBet Media

Two gambling enthusiasts, with a passion for all things gambling. Whether pressing our luck in the high limit room, testing the money line in the sportsbook, or just making friendly wagers on the back nine… we love to gamble! Our careers in the gaming industry have shown us that this industry is filled with some amazing people, with even more amazing stories. Our goal is to help provide a platform for those stories to be shared, while also helping everyone look good in the process.

About Landon Michael Jones

Manager and Co-Founder

Landon’s fascination with the casino industry began when he was just 12 years old and ultimately landed him in Las Vegas, where he earned a degree in hospitality management from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). For over a decade, Landon has been involved in various aspects of the gaming industry, including operations, management, and supply & distribution.

Landon’s tenacity and passion afforded him the opportunity to serve the gaming industry’s key players and regions throughout the United States. Landon enjoys collaborating with industry leaders to create the ultimate gaming experience for the end-user.

About Mike McKiski

Manager and Co-Founder

A seasoned gaming industry executive and expert in building, marketing, and monetizing gambling related technologies, Mike McKiski currently serves as President of MaxBet Media, Inc., the digital media upstart delivering an unfiltered, authentic, and at times irreverent look at the people who are driving the gambling industry forward. 

As he was founding MaxBet Media, Inc., McKiski worked for PlayAGS, Inc. (NYSE: AGS) serving as the company’s Vice President of Sales, with revenue responsibility for the Western United States and all of Canada.  Under McKiski’s leadership the revenue team doubled in size and grew revenues over 300%. He is a market transformation catalyst who has been at the forefront of launching mobile and social marketing products for hundreds of casino operators across the continent.

Media Contact

Philip Beere, Creative Director
PJ Media •

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