UNDERSTANDING CLASS II/VLT VIDEO KENO MACHINES

We’ve posted several articles about Class II slot machines in that area of this site and much of this information is also of relevance to video keno players. In our video keno discussion we talked about the randomness of the game due to the presence of the ‘random number generator’ (RNG). While the majority of video keno machines you’ll come across in land based casinos and virtually all of the ones you’ll encounter online are based on the RNG there are some that are not.

The exceptions are known as ‘Class II’ gaming devices and we’ll explain exactly what these are in just a moment. In addition, there are video lottery terminals (VLT’s) that share many characteristics with video keno machines but are also not based on a random number generator. In most ways, both types of machines look identical to ‘traditional’ video keno machines but have a number of important differences that you should be aware of.

WHAT ARE CLASS II VIDEO KENO MACHINES?

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act defines three ‘classes’ of gaming that may be permitted under specific circumstances. The first is ‘Class I’ gaming which is defined as ‘gaming associated with tribal ceremonies’ and ‘social card games’. These are governed by the various tribal councils and are not significant for this discussion. ‘Class III’ gaming is also known as ‘casino’ or ‘Las Vegas‘ style gaming–these are the kind of games you’d find in a casino in Nevada including RNG based gaming machines and table games. ‘Class II’ gaming is defined as “the game commonly known as bingo (whether or not electronic, computer, or other technological aids are used in connection therewith) and, if played in the same location as the bingo, pull tabs, punch board, tip jars, instant bingo, and other games similar to bingo.”

Most Class II machines are found at tribal casinos or in slots parlors attached to horse tracks. At first glance, they bear little resemblance to anything having to do with bingo and that’s by design. Tribal casinos have been trying to create a more ‘casino like’ experience in recent years and gaming machine manufacturers have complied. The result has been Class II slot machines, video poker machines and video keno machines that are based on bingo games instead of random number generators. The video games are all run ‘under the hood’ with the results ‘reported’ by the slot reels, video poker hand, or keno ball draw. Were it not for the LED bingo card in the corner of the screen you might forget that these games have any relationship to bingo at all.

What’s important to understand is that the ‘outcome’ of a Class II machine is determined before the keno draw. The bingo game that runs in the background determines winners and what prizes they’ll receive and that information is transmitted to the game screen. If you’re determined to be a winner what balls you selected simply don’t matter–the machine will indicate a win.

WHAT ARE VLT VIDEO KENO MACHINES?

Very similar to Class II video keno machines are VLT (video lottery terminal) machines. These machines are operated by state lotteries and are all tied into a central processing system. Once again, the exterior appearance of these games is either similar or identical to traditional slot machines, video poker or keno machines. But as was the case with Class II machines, the results of these games are not random and/or determined by a random number generator (RNG). There are a fixed number of winners that are determined by the central computer operated by the state lottery commission. Two states in the United States (Oregon & South Dakota) offer ‘Class III’ video lottery games including keno and poker that are controlled by a RNG. Every other state with video keno machines in the VLT format are not truly random.

SHOULD YOU PLAY THESE GAMES?

That’s a very good question. If you’re a casual gambler or a recreational player you might not have noticed a difference had we not pointed it out. You’d have a similar experience on a Class II or Class III machine despite what happens ‘under the hood’ to determine the outcome. Both the Class II machines and the VLT terminals have more in common with lottery scratch off tickets than with games you’d find in Las Vegas. If you’re a lottery player, you won’t have any problem with this concept. If you’re a more advanced player or an ‘advantage gambler’ you’ll likely not enjoy the experience–the knowledge that the game is not random will drive you nuts.