A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:
Q. When you see a slot machine like Wheel of Fortune or Seinfeld or Wonder Woman, are the people who were in those shows paid?
A. Licenses for themed games have to be negotiated with the copyright holder. The owners of the TV shows, movies, board games and other intellectual property used in slot themes are paid. So are any actors, hosts or other personnel whose images or voices are used in the games.
In Seinfeld, main characters played by Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards are featured, as are Jerry Stiller as Frank Costanza and Larry Thomas as the Soup Nazi. Their images and performances would have to be covered in the license.
On the other hand, the original Wheel of Fortune slots did not include images and performances by hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White. A license had to be negotiated to compensate the owners of the game show, but it did not have to include the hosts. Some later Wheel games do include Sajak and White, so they would have to be compensated.
Which actors and performances are included in the license are considerations in game design. When choosing video clips, gamemakers must confine themselves to scenes that feature the actors covered in the license. If a character not covered by the license appears in a desired scene, then either a fee must be negotiated for the actor playing that character or the scene may not be used.
Q. Is there a good system for picking numbers at keno? Does it make a difference if it’s live keno or video keno? Is it better to pick the same numbers every time or to change them up?
A. Keno is a game of pure chance. There are 80 numbers in all, and 20 are drawn for a game, sometimes called a race.
Results are random, and every number has a 1 in 4 chance of being drawn in any game. It makes no difference whether the game is live or on video. Odds for any number or any set of numbers is the same on every game.
If one of the numbers you select is 17, there is a 1 in 4 chance of it being drawn. If 17 hasn’t been drawn in the last game, the 10 games or any other number of games, the chances of it coming up in the next game are still 1 in 4. If it’s been drawn in the last game, the last 10 games or any other number of games, the odds on the next game are still 1 in 4.
Staying with your chosen number set for multiple games gives you the same chance of winning as changing up in every game. Your decisions and choices make no difference in the odds of winning.
I don’t play keno often, but when I do I usually stay with the same number set for multiple plays. That’s because I choose family birthdays, anniversaries, uniform numbers of favorite Chicago Cubs or other numbers that have meaning to me. It’s just for fun — the choices enhance my interest in the game but not my chances of winning.
Q. If blackjack paid extra for two-card 21s in hearts or diamonds, would they call it redjack?
A. Probably not. The blackjack game is too well established.
I have actually seen blackjack games that paid 2-1 for two-card 21s in diamonds. It was part of a Two-for-Tuesday promotion that included double top jackpots on slots and two-for-one drink and buffet deals. Alas, the game name remained blackjack.