Slot machines burst onto the American gambling scene in the 1930’s and have captivated risk-takers with their bright lights, shiny reels and a chance of striking it rich with their jackpots. Fast-forward to the 1980’s, and slot machines were deemed to be more profitable than table games like blackjack or craps. For the most part, the same remains true today. From Las Vegas, Reno and Atlantic City casinos to racetracks, barges, and riverboats along the Mississippi River, slot machines are still big business.
How Does a Slot Machine Work?
Named after the slot where cash, tokens or even new paper tickets are inserted, slots is a game for all skill levels. The object of the game is to win money from the machine. This happens by matching a set of symbols that roll and stop at random once its lever is pulled or button is pressed. The amount bet on each spin varies between machines. Most offer a variety of winning combinations which are linked to different rewards (extra spins, cash, etc.) and usually displayed on the machine itself.
There are several kinds of slots available nowadays, from the classic lever-and-spinning-reel variety to vivid display video slots. Regardless of their technological advancement since the 1930’s, slot machines are still categorized into two groups: class II or class III.
Class II Slot Machines
• All machines or terminals are linked together so that players end up competing against each other for a common prize.
• Winners are determined via a Video Lottery Terminal (VLT), much like a lottery scratch card.
• With a set quantity of wins and losses, they are preprogrammed to pay out at particular times.
• Not every game is guaranteed to have a winner, but play will continue until a winner is determined.
• Machines are interactive and, just like with the game of Bingo, players must announce their win in order to claim their reward. Prizes are not given automatically.
• These types of slot machines can be found primarily on Indian gaming reservations and ‘Racinos’, which are establishments that not only allow class II slots on premises but also have a live horse racetrack.
Class III Slot Machines
• Typically known as ‘Vegas-style’ or traditional slots, these are what most people think of when they envision a slot machine.
• Each terminal is independent of the rest, with players competing against the house or casino for a pay-out prize.
• Winners are determined via a Random Number Generator (RNG), giving every terminal the same chance of winning during every game.
• Despite misconceptions about a slot machine being ‘due to hit’, they aren’t preprogrammed to pay out at any particular time.
• If a player uses a terminal that someone else just abandoned and wins the jackpot, the likelihood that the previous player would have won if they stayed longer is very low. The RNG is timed down the millisecond of when a button is hit or lever is pulled, which must be done at a precise time in order to win each particular game.
• Wins are instantaneous and prizes are doled out immediately.