CLASS II SLOT MACHINES EXPLAINED

3 CLASS II SLOT MACHINES EXPLAINED
In a previous article we explained the general differences between Class III and Class II slot machines. Most of our coverage here will be about ‘Class III’ machines since those are the type you’re most likely to encounter in a major casino jurisdiction (Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City) or online. There’s still a fair amount of ‘Class II‘ machines out there and it’s good to have an understanding of what they are and how they work.

The most common place to encounter a Class II machine is at a slots parlor attached to a horse racing track or at a Native American Casino. The Class II games have become more sophisticated as the technological tools that drive them have improved. They’ve reached the point that most ‘casual gamblers’ won’t be able to tell the difference between a Class II and Class III slot machine. There are significant differences in terms of strategy and tactics (particularly with Class II video poker machines) but for the ‘recreational player’ these are of little relevance.

 

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WHAT ARE CLASS II SLOT MACHINES

Simply put, Class II slot machines attempt to replicate the traditional ‘Las Vegas style‘ Class III slot machine experience while staying within regulatory guidelines. The Class system is outlined by the Federal Government in The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and this act defines Class II 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.

Initially, this legalized high stakes bingo games which were popular at one point and held in warehouse like ‘bingo halls’. As tribal councils began to upgrade their gaming offerings they sought a more ‘casino like‘ atmosphere and experience. In some cases, they were able to successfully add Class III games to their offerings but in some area the political climate was such that this was not an option. It was in this environment that the ‘Class II’ slot machines were born. The Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida have been at the cutting edge of these games and spared no expense to replicate a Class III experience in a Class II jurisdiction. They hired engineers that had worked for major slot machine manufacturers like IGT to develop the in-house computer system to make it work while their casino operations side worked with slots and video poker manufacturers to create games that would work within their system.

HOW CLASS II SLOT MACHINES WORK

HOW CLASS II SLOT MACHINES WORK

It’s hard for most people to tell the difference other than the LED bingo card in the corner of the screen that shows the card patterns with every spin. Seminole Hard Rock Casino Operations VP explains what happens ‘under the hood’ to satisfy the legal requirements of a bingo game: “We have a 20-millisecond window, and anyone (in the casino) pushing the Play button during that window is put in the game for that common ball draw. It must be at least two players, but the maximum is unlimited. If it is a minimum of two, one of them gets a bingo—a winning pattern.

The odds of specific bingo game wins are then extrapolated to slot or video poker results with similar odds. There are some other algorithmic processes to determine the outcome on some games but the end result is the same: you pull a slot machine handle and spin the reels. Between that time and the time they stop spinning you are imperceptibly ‘entered’ into a multiplayer bingo game. The results are ‘reported‘ by the pattern of the reels when they stop and if you’re lucky you win a prize. You’ve had an experience virtually identical to a slot machine in Las Vegas while ‘behind the scenes’ the result has been determined in such a way to be legal in a jurisdiction where bingo is permitted but slot machines based on random number generators are not.

Casinos that operate Class II slot machines insist that they offer similar odds to Class III machines. The analogy they use is of a scratch off lottery ticket–instead of scratching off a card you’re pulling a slot machine handle to determine if you ‘win a prize‘. Although there’s likely a lot of truth to this concept most serious gambling experts suggest that you seek out Class III games whenever possible. This is particularly true for video poker–the Class II video poker games are essentially unplayable (we’ll discuss that in detail in a future article).