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What are the classes of slot machines?23 May 2009
The two classes of slot machines are a completely arbitrary distinction that arose from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). IGRA doesn't really define classes of slot machines. Rather, it defines classes of gaming.
Class I gaming is defined as traditional tribal and social gaming for minimal prizes.
Class II gaming is defined as games of chance such as bingo and pull-tabs. Native American casinos are allowed to offer these types of games as long as the state in which they are located allows other entities (like churches and schools) to offer these games.
Class III gaming is defined as the traditional casino games, including slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, etc. Native American casinos require state compacts in order to offer Class III games.
Now let's look at these classes as they pertain to slot machines. Class III is easy. These are the slot machines you find in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tunica, and everywhere else until IGRA. These machines contain Random Number Generators (RNG) and determine the results of their spins and bonus rounds completely on their own.
Tribal casinos could offer bingo, but slots are where the real money is. They looked for a way to turn a bingo drawing into a slot machine.
The result is the Class II slot machine. A central computer performs a bingo drawing and sends the results down to the machines. Each machine then uses the numbers drawn to cover spots on a bingo card, which is displayed somewhere on the machine. The pattern covered on the card determines the result of the spin.
Voila. Tribal casinos could now offer slot machines without state compacts because the machines are based on a bingo drawing and not an RNG.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at email@example.com. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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