Taking a Spin in the Redzone: We tested Aristocrat Gaming’s NFL-licensed slots

October 23, 2023 8:56 PM
Photo: Courtesy Major League Content
  • Steve Chen — CEO, Major League Content
October 23, 2023 8:56 PM
  • Steve Chen — CEO, Major League Content

The annulment of PASPA by the US Supreme Court in 2018 introduced sports betting to many US states. But it didn’t only change the minds of legislators. It also created a shift in sports leagues towards legal gambling.

Be it placing wagers on the football playoffs in a legal sportsbook or predicting a Super Bowl favorite in an office pool, the National Football League (NFL) has owed a lot of its popularity to gambling for decades. Historically, the league opposed legalizing sports betting, claiming it would compromise the game and expose players to risky opportunities. But in an interview with NBC before the 2023 season-opening game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained the change of heart: “One of the reasons we oppose legalized sports betting is because of the risk to the integrity of the game,” but then he added: “When the Supreme Court overruled that, we have to be in that space.”

Today, the NFL has three official sports betting partners, sportsbooks that operate inside stadiums, and betting kiosks. To top it off, this year’s Super Bowl will be hosted in Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders. It signifies a massive turn for a league that previously refused to mention Las Vegas in Super Bowl commercials.

But the new relationship between the NFL and gambling doesn’t stop with sports betting. It extends to casino gambling as well.

NFL-licensed casino games were introduced to gridiron fans in September 2022, when BetMGM launched its exclusive Jets Deluxe slot, developed in partnership with Everi Digital. Likewise, the company released Pittsburgh Steelers Roulette and Pittsburgh Steelers Blackjack in Pennsylvania in 2021. However, these titles mainly target regional audiences, and some are only available in specific locations.

Australian slot giant Aristocrat Gaming took things to another level, and two years after forming a partnership with the NFL in 2021, it began distributing its NFL Super Bowl Jackpots slots to casino floors in August 2023. The gradual rollout included some select casino floors in Nevada, California, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Arizona, with steady deployment to more locations planned to follow in the forthcoming months.

Although the NFL Super Bowl Jackpots slot machine has been available in several casino locations across the country, Aristocrat took the opportunity to unveil the slot at the G2E Gaming Conference in Las Vegas, where many in the industry got a chance to see it for the first time.

With Super Bowl LVIII coming to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, it was only fair for a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan like myself to check the slot and see what it’s all about.

My first meeting with the NFL Super Bowl Jackpots slot was actually on the Venetian casino floor, a day before the conference started. It was a high, four-cabinet tower, and I noticed the NFL logo and football graphics. So naturally, I was drawn to it like many other football fans that were there.

You can choose your own NFL team, which I found to be very engaging and fun. It’s not only the images on the reels and backdrop that are filled with your team logo and colors. There’s also game footage on the top screen. So you get a bit of a game day experience on the casino floor.

As the Las Vegas Raiders hosted the Green Bay Packers that weekend, there were tons of football fans in town. So many congregated around the slot, stood behind the players, and watched the spins and footage as the games. Well done Aristocrat for creating a communal slot that brings players together on the casino floor!

As expected from Aristocrat Gaming, the visuals are sharp. The football helmet, jersey, and team logo are all designed beautifully atop a backdrop celebrating each team’s colors (black and gold in my case – Go Steelers!). Still, low-paying symbols of nachos and hot dogs were a bit generic.

The Free Games bonus round was exciting, allowing you to pick a Double, Triple, or Quadruple Cash Blitz, awarding 15, 12, and 10 free games, respectively. Although I did trigger some wins, the multipliers seemed pretty low to me. So many credits but not a lot of cash at the end. I played for quite some time and didn’t trigger many winning spins. So, if you’re a football fan looking for a low-variance slot, this one isn’t for you. But if you have enough budget and want to try going for the touchdown, a nice jackpot is waiting at the endzone – it was over a million dollars while I was playing.

To sum up, I didn’t win any money on the NFL Super Bowl Jackpots slot. I actually lost quite a bit. But as gambling is all about entertainment, and this slot is packed with football, and it brought together so many NFL fans to celebrate the game of football on the casino floor – it’s probably one of the most worthwhile, fun losses I’ve ever had on the casino floor.” I’ll definitely come back to play this slot and recommend you give it a try.

But most importantly, remember that it’s all about fun and never a way to make money. So always gamble responsibly.”

CEO of Aristocrat Gaming, Hector Fernandez, mentioned how the game brings the “excitement and energy of the NFL” to the casino floor.  The Vice President of Gaming Operations for Aristocrat Gaming, Ryan Scott, confirmed this, “Those games have served as a center of energy on the floor”, impressing the G2E audience so much that “the crowd behind the game will either cheer or boo the player whether they make [the field goal] or not”.

Scott also highlighted some of the unique benefits of the official NFL licensed slot, “With our deal with the NFL and NFLPA, we can use Super Bowl. So operators have a chance to have the Super Bowl on their floor for the Super Bowl”.

The game features a few bonus features players will recognize from watching football on Sundays, including a Red Zone Bonus and a Field Goal Challenge. You can also choose which team you want to brand the game and enjoy a 6-minute highlight reel for each franchise while you play.

Terese Whitehead, the NFL Players Association Vice President, noted that this would “offer a unique opportunity for fans across the country to be engaged in a new way”.

While the Super Bowl Jackpots game is exciting enough on its own, there is more to come for NFL slot fans. Members of Aristocrat Gaming spoke about further NFL slot game launches. Here’s what Steve heard about these games:

  • Super Bowl Link – Featuring Hold & Spins and Wild Card Bonuses, this is another slot that will let players choose their preferred NFL franchise while they play.
  • Winning Drive – Provides players with six different features, including Red Zone Spins, Championship Ring Hunt, and Quarterback Pass.
  • Overtime Cash – Has the Intercepted feature, which turns losing spins into wins. There is also the Overtime Cash Bonus, which is played across 4 quarters.
  • Rings of Victory – A 3-reel progressive jackpot with three bonus games.
  • NFL Kickoff – Features a bonus round where you can take a trip to the red zone and score a touchdown for wins.

There are plenty of fans ready to enjoy these games. Citing Aristocrat Gaming’s own research, Fernandez revealed that as many as 30 million estimated NFL fans already enjoy playing slot machines.

Steve (Ziv) Chen is CEO of Major League Content, which he founded after serving for over two decades in the gambling industry. Before combining his passion for writing with his love of gambling, Steve served in senior roles with leading slots providers and industry operators.