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When I wake up the first thing I do after making coffee is check social media. It's normally just to see what's happening in Las Vegas news but my feeds are filled with real human beings too.

Not too long ago, there was an alert that the Sigma Derby game at MGM Grand was missing from it's normal location near the sportsbook. There was confusion on whether or not the game was taken off the floor or if it was moved to a new location. Fortunately, MGM Grand had simply relocated the cult favorite casino game more towards the middle of the mammoth casino floor. You could hear the sighs of relief dotted all across America.

Sigma Derby isn't the most popular casino game around. If it were, you would find it in more than two Las Vegas casinos (MGM Grand on the Vegas Strip and The D in Downtown Vegas). Having said that, good luck trying to get a seat to play the game. Depending on the time of day, seats may be stacked three people deep waiting to play the coin-operated horse racing game.

An electronic horse racing game, Sigma Derby was introduced in the mid-'80s to mediocre response. Today the game is as retro as retro gets in a casino.

An electronic horse racing game, Sigma Derby was introduced in the mid-'80s to mediocre response. Today the game is as retro as retro gets in a casino. Five horses race around an enclosed track that's surrounded by the bettors. Unlike graceful real life race horses these electronic horses bop up and down while moving around the track.

You play the game by choosing two horses to finish in first and second place. There are 10 two-horse combinations with varying odds to choose from. Coincidentally there are 10 seats for players.

Each wager costs 25 cents but you can bet more than one credit per two-horse combination and you can bet on multiple combinations. Since the game hasn't been modified since it was introduced you'll have to get quarters from the cashier or a nearby change machine to place your bets.

If your two-horse combination wins a race your betting station receives credits based on the odds posted around the track. You can leave the credits in the game or cash out your quarters. If you win more than 500 credits you'll be paid by hand so you don't have to deal with lugging around 500 quarters. If you like that old school feel of quarter residue on your fingers you might want to cash out and reload your station after every few races. Or you can just wait until you're done and fill a bucket of quarters to bring to the cashier.

New races begin 30 seconds after a race ends so you can end up dropping much more money than you expect. You may want to limit yourself to one roll of quarters. Otherwise it's easy to get caught up in the fun.

Sigma Derby may be a fun time with vintage technology, but it's not an especially smart bet. Games are programmed to have a 10 to 20 percent house edge for the casino. That's among the worst bets you can make in the casino.

Nobody plays Sigma Derby because it's a money maker. They play it because of its a fun game with vintage technology, low limits and complimentary drink service.

MGM Resorts says that the new location of their Sigma Derby game at MGM Grand has made it more popular than ever. At The D, you can find Sigma Derby upstairs near the sportsbook in the vintage casino.

Marc Meltzer
Marc grew up in New York City and now resides in Las Vegas. He grew up loving and playing baseball. It’s his number one love followed closely by football and casinos. Life in casinos started in Atlantic City but has become more of a lifestyle now that he lives in Las Vegas. Exploring casinos and learning all they have to offer has really become an obsession. Today Marc writes about the casino business, hotels, dining, drinking, technology, gaming and sports. Marc writes the blog



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