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# Ask the Slot Expert: Are Class II slot machines random?

18 December 2019

Question: My husband and I were on a road trip and decided to visit Wind Creek Casino in Atmore, Alabama to stretch our legs. We were there about 20 minutes. I played a 25-cent Wheel of Fortune.

A few spins in I got some message on a small side screen that I had blacked out a bingo card. I didn't know what to do, so I just closed that screen. I then pushed the spin button for my next spin, got the bonus, and landed the wheel for 2000 credits, \$500!

I know it's a Class II casino, but I just don't understand how the slot machines work. Although I'm thrilled I won \$500, I don't like the idea that it's not entirely random. It appears the spins land according to what's on that bingo card on the small screen on the slot machine.

Answer: You have it exactly right. The pattern filled on the bingo card determines what you win on a spin.

You're not right, however, that the results on the machines are not random. They are random, just not determined in the same way as on a Class III machine.

Rather than each machine having an internal RNG and determining its results on its own and independently of any other machine, Class II machines are actually bingo drawings under the hood. You're really playing bingo. The spinning reels and playing cards are just window dressing to reveal the amount you won according to the pattern you covered on your bingo card.

The results are still determined at random. Rather than random numbers from Random Number Generator function, Class II machines use randomly drawn bingo numbers.

It's interesting to note that the winning patterns are not necessarily the usual patters you're striving for in a live bingo game. (I have to admit that I have newfound respect for bingo players after playing in a complimentary session a few months ago. Some of the patterns are complicated and it can be difficult to see if you've covered a pattern when one set of cards is used for multiple patterns.) A winning pattern might be two squares in the second row. You can see some videos in which people go through the help screens on Class II slot machines on YouTube.

Question: A friend of mine hit a hand-pay jackpot using his wife’s players card and they would not pay him. He had to call his wife to come over and get paid. He did not have a player’s card for whatever the reason. This was in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino. So maybe the rules differ from casino to casino. Just curious.

Answer: I'm curious too. The only time I've heard of a casino refusing to pay a legitimate jackpot was when the player was underage.

This incident raises a question: What if the players card belonged to some random person who forgot it? Would the casino then want to pay that person? And another question: If there was a W-2G, in whose name was it issued? And another: What if your friend's wife wasn't with him?

In cases where people have pooled money or someone has given another person money to play with or let someone play their credits on a machine, the casinos pay the person playing the machine. Their reasoning is that they don't have any idea what financial arrangements might be in effect, but they can review the surveillance footage and see who pressed the Spin button. The player gets paid.

Different casinos have different rules for playing on other people's cards, but I think Pay the Player is universal.

Either they didn't understand the proper procedure in this situation or, more likely, they just wanted to passive-aggressively suggest that your friend not play on his wife's card again without saying so explicitly.

Has anyone else had problems getting paid when they've played on another player's card?

Question: I read your column on gaming in Washington state. My lovely lady and I have traveled to both Oregon and Washington on our gaming tours.

We would get skinned alive in Oregon and then win it all back in Washington.

Keep in mind that when you play the scratch ticket machines you know there is a winner in there somewhere. With the RNG machines, you could play all day or night and never win.

On a trip to Canada and back to Washington, we stopped at Angel of the Wind casino and my lady love hit a royal on the way up and a royal on the way back on the same video poker machine.

As far as we are concerned, more power to the scratchers!

Answer: Congratulations on the two royals.

Good point about scratcher-based machines vis-a-vis RNG-based machines. For the casino, there is no volatility on the scratchers. Sure, the casino's actual hold percentage can be all over the place as a prize pool is exhausted. But at the completion of the prize pool, the hold percentage is exactly what the prize pool was designed to hold. On RNG-based machines, it can take millions of hands for the actual hold percentage on a particular video poker paytable to settle in near the theoretical.

For the player, the long-term payback of video poker is determined by the paytable on an RNG-based machine and the odds of getting any particular hand never changes. On scratcher-based video poker, the long-term payback is determined by what's in the prize pool, so the paytable is irrelevant. Furthermore, the odds of winning change with what's left in the prize pool. And, most importantly, because your result is determined by what you've drawn from the prize pool, strategy is also irrelevant.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

#### Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots