And then there was one. The beloved Sigma Derby game is now in only one US casino after MGM Grand removed their installation from the casino floor.
What is Sigma Derby?
Sigma Derby is a mechanical horse race game that was introduced in 1985.
The game has had ups and downs in popularity. The horse racing game was initially embraced, but that changed as gambling preferences evolved to newer games.
However, in the past 10 years or so, Sigma Derby saw a resurgence in popularity with a near cultlike audience.
Sigma Derby hit a special place in the hearts of casino guests. Unlike most games in casinos today, Sigma Derby is a coin-operated machine that’s a throwback to a different era of casino gambling.
The minimum wager for Sigma Derby is a quarter. Even more nostalgic, the machines haven’t been modified to accept dollars like many older games.
The mechanical toy horses in Sigma Derby don’t run smoothly. They bounce around the racetrack like they were born in the mid-1980s. Each game has 10 betting stations.
The low price to play in combination with the vintage feel, slow pace (90 seconds between races) and social environment made this game popular for gamblers looking for an inexpensive and fun time at the casino.
Why Did MGM Grand remove Sigma Derby?
Las Vegas was home to the last two Sigma Derby games in casinos. They’ve been a special attraction for years, and visitors would visit MGM Grand and The D specifically to play these games. Sadly, the end has been near for a while.
Sigma Derby, at MGM Grand, had been closed for repairs almost as much as it’s been operational over the past few years. MGM Grand has some dedicated technicians who tried to keep their Sigma Derby game working. Unfortunately, it was time to pull the plug.
Sigma Derby is more than 30 years old and no longer manufactured. Finding replacement parts to fix the game becomes more difficult every year. The game was breaking down so frequently and its parts are nearly impossible to find, thus keeping the game on the floor was a labor of love.
An unnamed source told Vital Vegas that MGM Grand has “done everything possible to prolong its active lifespan, but that’s simply no longer possible.”
Depending on the resource, Sigma Derby has a house edge for the casino of between 10 to 20 percent. Regardless of the house edge, the low limits can’t make Sigma Derby a very profitable game for MGM Grand.
The popular casino game lives on at The D
There’s only one Sigma Derby game remaining in a casino. The D Las Vegas has the game in the “Vintage Vegas” section of the casino along with numerous older slot machines.
“We’re proud to share that the D Las Vegas is now officially home to the only Sigma Derby horse-racing slot machine in Las Vegas, and one of the very few left in the world,” said Derek Stevens, owner of The D. “We look forward to welcoming even more guests from around the world to stop by and place a bet on their favorite horse.”
Located next to Sigma Derby on the second floor is the Fortune Cup horse racing game. This isn’t a vintage game like most of the other games in this section of the casino. Fortune Cup is the latest horse racing game to hit casinos and offers an alternative to those looking to bet on plastic ponies.
Fortune Cup is a bit too slick for the most diehard Sigma Derby fans. The horses run smoothly, the video betting stations can seem complicated and there’s just a lack of kitsch found with the older horse racing game.
However, Fortune Cup offers the amenities that many casino customers are looking for an electronic game today. Best of all, like Sigma Derby, it’s located close to the Vue Bar at The D.
Fortune Cup can be found in many casinos around the country, but its popularity is hit and miss.
While it outperforms slot machines in some casinos, it remains empty in others. The experience isn’t the same as Sigma Derby, but it’s sufficient for some gamblers looking for a change.