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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Outcome of 88 Fortunes bonus predetermined?

1 June 2016

Question: Are the Indian casinos as fair as the non-Indian casinos?

Answer: A common misconception is that you leave behind state and federal laws and are subject to tribal regulations only once you step onto the reservation.

A Native American casino executive once told me that his casino was subject to stricter regulations than the non-Native American casinos near him. According to the Indian Gaming website, "tribal gaming is regulated by tribal governments, Congress, the Interior Department and the National Indian Gaming Commission, as well as by states under the terms of negotiated tribal-state gaming compacts" [so the casino can offer Class III games].

Games like bingo, pull-tabs and other non-banked games are defined as Class II games by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). Tribes can self-regulate Class II games, but they must adopt "a gaming ordinance approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission" and they regulate with Commission oversight.

IGRA defines Class III gaming as anything that is not Class I (social games) or Class II. Class III includes the traditional casino table games and slot machines.

A Class III slot machine has an internal random number generator and determines the results of its spins independently of any other system. A Class II slot machine, on the other hand, is a bingo drawing under the hood and it depends on a bingo drawing conducted on a central server to determine its results.

The different way a Class II slot machine operates sometimes gives players the impression that bonus rounds are rigged and their choices don't matter. On old Class II machines, that was true. The outcome of the bonus round was determined by the bingo pattern covered in the base game. Players could associate patterns with bonus round outcomes.

To make the playing experience of Class II machines more like that on a Class III machines, some Class II machines use a separate bingo drawing to determine the outcome of the bonus round, so the outcome is no longer determined by the pattern covered in the base game. Your choices still don't matter — the outcome is still determined by a bingo drawing — but at least it's a separate drawing from the one that triggered the bonus round.

It's important to keep in mind the regulations under which a slot machine must operate. You can't assume that just because a particular slot game operates a certain way in your local casino, the slot game operates the same way in all other casinos.

Which brings us to the next question.


Question: I just read your article on 88 Fortunes slot machine and wanted to point out an error. At the casino I play at, the three 88 Fortunes machines are linked and when I have hit the bonus round and looked at the progressives on the machine next to me, the other machine has reset one of the bonuses. Without fail that is the one I end up with.

This proves that the machine determines the win, prior to any picks. That is why I feel like it is rigged to be unfair.

Answer: The original article was about how an 88 Fortunes machine does not reveal the "babies" under the coins at the conclusion of the bonus round. I feel that every machine that has a pick-em bonus should reveal the values under the items not picked at the conclusion of the bonus. Despite that, I surmised that the chances really are 1 in 4 for each progressive.

The writer of this question did not specify where his casino is. It's possible that he's playing a Class II machine that must use a bingo drawing to determine the progressive won instead of the player's choices. Even if this is the case, if the chances of hitting each progressive are 1 in 4, then the chances are the same as the Class III version and the machine is just as fair.

And now for a cliffhanger.

I'll go check out the 88 Fortunes slots at my local casinos to see if the linked machines reset the progressive before a player has completed the round.

You won't have to wait until next season for the answer. Just next week.


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