Video Slots – The Essential Guide & Facts
Ever since the rise of their popularity in the 90s, video slots have become extremely popular in both large and small casinos. Video slot machines are considered to be more popular than their mechanical counterparts and most electronic games that are featured at casinos. In fact, video slots have turned into visual extravaganzas, with the help of catchy background scores, colorful animations, film clips and motion effects, all of which entices the player, and makes it easier for them to spend more time at the slots.
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Here we are going to talk about the history of video slots and what lies in store for the future. We are also going to discuss other features that are responsible for the popularity of video slots such as multiple paylines, the use of random number generators, linked games and increased hit frequencies. Here we are going to talk about the opportunities of winning big thanks to the many options that are featured on exciting and highly addictive video slots.
In the Beginning…
The popular video slot machines of today have their roots in the 3-reel mechanical slot machines. The video slots still use the same concept but have been repackaged to make them more visually appealing to the player. Whether it is at the casino or online, slots are usually on video, which is able to offer player with far more excitement as compared to the mechanical version.
Just like the mechanical powered slot machines, the video slots and online slots are both easy to play. All the player has to do is make a wager, choose their paylines and push the button to make the reels spin. That being said, there are quite a few important things one needs to know before playing video slots, whether online or at the brick and mortar casino. Since the results of all modern slots that use mechanical reels is determined using a random number generator, the following need to be considered before playing;
- The house always has the edge with slot machines since it always pays less than the true odds of a game.
- As compared to reel slots, the video slots offer less of the total payback on the main game.
- Online slots are quite similar to video slots that are played at the casino.
- Almost all slots use their bonus events as the main attraction for players.
Video Slot’s Popularity in the U.S.
In the UK and US, video slots are considered to be the most popular games in any casino. More people play on the slot machines than any other game, including blackjack and poker. But, it wasn’t always that way. The first video slots were not fully accepted by the people since there were rumors of video slots minimized their chances of winning.
One of the main reasons for their distrust in video slots was the use of the random number generator, which would pick the numbers that were to be displayed on the screen once the reels stopped spinning. While it is true that nothing in the known universe that’s above quantum level can really be random, the random number generator, on the other hand, comes really close, making it hard for players to notice even when patterns repeat themselves.
The following are a few key points regarding the random number generator;
- The display of the early video slots was flat and had low resolution, which was visually unappealing.
- The early video slots used three animated reels that were similar to the mechanical slots, which made them look like low-grade imitations of the legendary mechanical powered slot machines.
- Since computers were not common in the 80s, many players did not trust it when it came to slots.
- The early video slots did not feature any of the bonus games that are the main feature in slots today, nor did they have a catchy background score that would keep the player’s interested while they played the slots.
While the mechanical powered slots were also computerized, since home computers were not widely used and people weren’t exactly as tech savvy as they are today, most players believed that the video slots could be tampered with to show a certain result. But, all that changed in the 90s, as more and more people were using home computers and new features were being introduced to the video slot format which eventually helped break the reluctance which was once shown by players.
Important Events in the History of Video Slots
- 1975 – The Fortune Coin video slot which is the first slot to use a video screen is introduced by the Fortune Coin Company.
- 1979 – Under the leadership of Si Redd, the company Sircoma introduces its first video poker game. Video poker becomes widely accepted by casino owners and players, which sets the stage for the video format in casino games. Sircoma was then rebranded and renamed IGT, which is a worldwide leader in slot machines.
- 1994 – The Bally Game Maker is introduced by Bally Technologies, which is the first game to feature multiple games on the same machine. This could only be possible because of the video format, and allowed users to choose the game they wanted to play by tapping on the screen.
- 1995 – The Australian owned, slot manufacturer Aristocrat Technologies rolls out its five reel slot game which also includes never seen before features such as free spin bonuses. While this slot machine was not fully accepted in the US, it gained immense popularity in Europe and the UK, which eventually led to its popularity in the US.
- 1996 – The Odyssey video slots are introduced by Silicon Gaming, which introduces radical new features to the video slot format such as the use of high tech algorithms, large size screens, various bonus features and high quality animation and sound. The Odyssey video slot game was considered to be the future of slot machines at the time, but unfortunately, it was unable to gain favor amongst casinos and players.
- 1997 – The Reel ‘Em In slot game is introduced by WMS Gaming and is first video slot game to achieve major success in casinos across the United States.
WMS Gaming introduced its slot game ‘Reel ‘Em In’ garnered immense popularity which helped shift the casino gaming landscape towards the video format. While the 3-reel video slots remained the crowd favorite for the next three years after the release of the Reel ‘Em In slot game, eventually video slots was able to gain popularity and become the major profit maker it is today for casinos. Looking back, there were a few other pieces of the puzzle that fell into place which eventually helped video slots gain attention and recognition.
Multiple Bonus Events
While the first video slots featured a single bonus event, nowadays, video slots feature many bonus rounds such as, Pick’ Em bonuses and free spin bonuses, along with other variations of the two, which adds to the excitement of the video slot games we play today.
Aristocrat manufacturers is considered to be the pioneer for Hyperlink games with its Pacific Rim and Cash Express slots, both of which gain immense popularity in the US. The introduction of these two games paved the way for future slot manufacturers to design slots that featured progressive jackpots, where players could win thousands of dollars.
Pop Culture Themes
Slot machines that are themed have gained huge popularity over the years. Some of the most notable pop culture themed slots are Bally’s Michael Jackson, IGT’s The Twilight Zone, Aristocrat’s The Big Bank Theory, and WMS’ Lord of the Rings. All of these themed slot machines whether they are online or video slots have become widely popular and the themes coupled with high quality graphics, free spin bonuses and other features makes pop culture themed slots a winner by slot players.
Community Style Slots
In these community-style slot games the players can either win or lose together. The first community style slot machine was Road Rally which was introduced in the 80s, but it wasn’t until a full two decades later that the community-style slots were able to gain momentum. The popularity of this type of slot machine really took off after the introduction of ‘Monopoly Big Event’ by WMS Gaming and IGT’s ‘Wheel of Fortune Super Spin.’
Slots with Special Effects
Some popular themed slots come along with special chairs that are similar to those found in EFX Cinemas. This enables players to have a truly immersive experience. These special chairs can shake, rock and move. They also come with surround sound speakers which creates an incredible environment for the player.
It is no secret that video slots are the most popular games on the casino floor, with penny slots being the most popular amongst slot games. To make penny slots interesting for the players these games usually feature 20 to 40 paylines.
If it weren’t for the large paylines and the ticket printer that pays out the prize, penny slots would be impractical. The main goal for casino owners has always been to make the penny slots entertaining and feasible for the casinos. Penny slots are designed to be more interactive and entertaining than the 3-reel slots. But, 3-reel slots still retains a loyal following, being the first slot game.
The Significance of Animation and Background Scores
The popularity of Aristocrat’s slot machine based on the 60s TV hit Batman would not be much of a hit if it weren’t for the TV clips and characters that were shown in the slot game. The same goes for Konami’s New Contra. The inclusion of great looking animations, captivating background scores and interesting movie clips gave the player a multi-dimensional experience, which was able to attract more players to the slots.
Video slots offer entertainment for the players especially while they are choosing the casino game they want to play, launching the video clips or taking part in the various bonus events that are featured in many of the video slots that are played today. Whether the player wins or loses, the game developers make sure that they are able to have an incredible experience, and would hopefully come back for more.
- While video slots first gained popularity in the 90s, they have been around since the 70s.
- Video slots that are designed today emphasize on entertaining the player regardless of whether they win or lose.
- The video slot first gained popularity around the Pacific Rim before it was launched in the US.
The Random Number Generator
The modern slot machines that feature mechanical reels work in the same way as video slots. The numbers that are generated by the random number generator are translated into symbols which appear on the digital reels. The following are some of the differences between the video slots and the slots which have mechanical reels;
- The video slots use computer algorithms that enable it to have far more winning combinations as compared to those slots that feature mechanical reels.
- Unlike the mechanical reel version, the video reels do not take up any space inside the slot since they are animated on the screen. This allows the programmer to include more symbols to the reels as previously possible.
- Almost all of the video slots feature bonus events where the player gets to win prizes such as free spins or more coins.
- Video slots also have more paylines as compared to mechanical slots.
Below is an example of the pay table of a five-reel video slot which is found in most modern casinos.
Contrary to popular belief, the five-reel slot is easy. The pay table is of a very basic five reel slot game. While there are many options when it comes to potential combinations, the main ones featured in most five-reel video slots are A-K-Q-J and 10 along with other character symbols.
The maximum that is waged above if 100 coins, but this can usually go up to 500 coins in most five reel video slots. We only see one bonus event featured in this game, which is common when it comes to video slots. The following are of the features that sets the five reel video slot apart from other slots games.
- The player does not have to get the winning symbols on each reel in order to win.
- The payoffs in the five reel video slots are always proportionate to the size of the wager and players get no bonus for the hitting the betting max.
- The winning spins don’t always give the same payouts.
All of the features that have been mentioned above are extremely important for the player to get the full video slot experience. The best part of playing the five reel slot is that the player does not have to get the winning symbol on each of the reels.
The player can get a return for just lining up the winning symbols on the reels on reels 1, 2 and 3, with higher payoffs if they manage to get the wining symbols on reels 4 and 5.
There are also some five reel video slots that feature top paying symbols that allow players to win small returns by getting two of the symbols across starting from the left. Players can also see on the pay table that there are several winning combinations where the player actually gets less than the wager they made. If the player made a wager of one coin on each of the 20 paylines for the 20 coin bet, the three raccoons, three mice, or two hawks to get 15.
The amount of flexibility that is given to the game designers allows them to design games that have a high frequency. There are video slots that also offer up to 50% spins, but most of those slots are ‘less-than-bet-pays’ slots. These slots also don’t amount to those unusually high payback percentages that most players look for in slots such as the Megabucks slots.
Multiple Paylines and Payoffs
For slot players the multiple paylines make up an important part of the whole slot experience. With the advancements in technology, slot machine developers have made it possible for players to win on more than a single payline, and can also win by getting the same symbols on multiple paylines. The following is a quick example of the multiple paylines that are used in most modern slot machines.
Below is what the markings on the reels would look like if they had symbols;
In the first three paylines you can see two hawks with four mice on the fourth payline. In this example, the player got a five-coin payoff with two hawks three times along with a 15-coin with four mouse payoff just once. The 20-coin bet with a single coin per payline gets the total up to a 30-coin return.
It is crucial to incorporate the multiple pays in the total of the games payoffs, and that’s not all, there are also a few other factors which determine the payoffs that are set by the slot designers. These factors include bonus events, scatter pays expanding wilds and wild symbols.
The wild symbols are used as alternates for any of the other symbols excluding the scatter and bonus symbols.
In the example given before, the mouse symbol on the third reel is a wild symbol, in which case the pay is the same, but the four hawks included the payline will look like this;
Now, rather than having 5-credit pays for the two hawk symbols, the player gets 250 credit pay for the two additional hawks. Whenever a wild symbol appears on a payline, the expanding wilds grow to fill all the three spaces of the column.
As a rule of thumb, with the expanding wilds, the symbols also would multiply.
There is no need to line up scatter pays on a payline. In fact, in many slots, the bonus symbols are usually the scatter symbols so if three appear on the screen the player progresses to a bonus event. But, there are also some slot machines, where getting the scatter symbols on screen does not necessarily mean that the player goes to a bonus event.
For example, the slot has a treasure chest symbol that makes 100-coin payoffs if the player manages to get three of them. In the same game the player gets 250 coins for four treasure chest symbols and a thousand for five treasure chest symbols.
The paylines of this game would look like the following:
In this game the spaces where the treasure chest symbols were would not be able to constitute as a win with other symbols. This is because they do not line up starting from reel one and going from left to right.
On the other hand, if they were scatter pays, the player would get the payoff, regardless of their position on the reels.
Bonus Events in Slots
Now, let’s take a quick look at bonus events in slots. The bonuses that are offered in slot machines can either be in the form of free spins, wheel spins, pick a prize events etc. The bonus events are also calculated in the overall game math by the developers, and when it comes to random number sets. Some games also feature a third of payback that come from bonus events. In other words, a game that gives the player a return of 60% at a base level, can add up to 30% of bonuses. Needless to say, the amount of bonus events differ from game to game, but game programmers still include them in their game design.
With all of these options, the slot designers have the opportunity to work with large sets of numbers. Since the reels and the symbols do not exist in a physical sense and are portrayed on digital screens, there is no need to keep reel strips inside the casing of the machine. The slot programmer can include as many as 1,000 symbols on each reel of the slot machine, which can lead to an infinite number of possible combinations that leads to the desired odds. This can be further increased with the use of five-reel slots.
For instance, if each of the five reels features up to 100 symbols, the amount of possible combinations can increase up to 100 x 100 x 100 x 100 x 100. This amounts to a whopping 10 billion possible combinations. This leaves plenty for the designers to work with when it comes to scatter pays, expanding wilds, bonuses and other additional benefits.
- The results of a video slot are always determined with the help of a random number generator.
- The bonuses, wild symbols and scatter pays along with the multiple paylines are increased significantly due to the increased amount of symbols on the digital reels.
- The large set of symbols that the game developers work with allows them to include more features in a single game than ever before.
- Basic Paylines – Traditionally, the payoffs in slot machines have revolved mainly around the paylines that were set by the game manufacturers. In the popular three wheel slot machine the configuration has always been a single line down the middle.
- Five-Paylines – When the five reel video slot became popular in the early 90s, this changed the world of slots forever, the possibility of having five paylines increased the number of bonus features significantly.
- Payline Zigzag – this concept has grown further with the addition of zigzag paylines in the more modern slots. The zigzag paylines are those which zig and zag across the reels. Today, slot machines having up to 40 paylines are a common sight on casino floors.
What Difference does Multiple Paylines Make
There are a number of benefits of having multiple paylines such as:
- The addition of more paylines in a slot means more opportunities of winning on one than more line on each spin of the reels.
- This gives the slot developers the flexibility they need to come up with slot games that offer different levels of volatility.
- The addition of multiple paylines offers the players multiple opportunities to win.
- It also makes it easier for the slot developers to create slots with high hit frequencies.
Nowadays, there are numerous slot games that are available which offer different levels of volatility which was only possible because of the five reel slot game, and the ability of slot developers to design games with over one billion possible combinations using 100 random numbers on each reel.
The frequent wins of a smaller quantity are able to yield games of low volatility which in turn keeps the player glued to their seats with the extended game play. On the flip side, in order to yield a higher volatility and have a better shot at winning the jackpot. But, at the same time this also leads to a faster bankroll drain of the player. This means that players have the opportunity to choose how much to bet per payline, and the amount of paylines they would like to play on.
When the video slots first made its debut with five paylines, the button panels on the video slot machines offered the players options such as these:
According to this configuration of the buttons, the player could either bet anywhere from a single coin per spin and could go up to 25. Most of the slot games with additional paylines offer more betting options that go down to a single coin. That being said, not all of the combinations on the coin line are always offered on slots. The following is one example for the 20-line game:
The configuration of the buttons work best when video slots are used, which is similar to the previous slots. These configurations were also mostly found on video slots that offer five cent and nickel denominations. So, the most you will spend on the game is five cents. Usually, slot players cover more paylines by using up to 25 cents.
When the penny slot first gained popularity and the minimum bet was reduced to just one cent, profitability of the video slots became the number one priority of casino owners. This meant that casino owners wanted to make sure that the players of these new slots were betting enough to keep the games profitable. This led the game designers to come up with the ‘forced bet’ machine. In a forced bet game featuring 40 lines, the button panel looks something like this:
The ‘Bet 40’ button that was added to the button panel covers all of the paylines at one coin for each line. These games allow players to bet at least one coin per payline, but does not allow players to bet using one coin.
Betting the Lines
Below are some of the basics that every player needs to understand when it comes to multiline video slots:
- In most of the video slot machines that are built today, including the online slot games the payouts are usually proportionate to the amount of coins that have been wagered by the player on each of the paylines.
- The slot machines which feature larger bets on all of the paylines are then balanced by a higher amount of frequent wins.
- In the multiline video slots it is possible for the winning combination to land on any of the paylines.
Below is an example of how this process works in the multiline video slot:
- In a slot machine that features 20 lines, getting three of the ‘10’ symbols get the player a five coin payoff.
- The odds of this hypothetical game are set so that the three ‘10s’ occur at an average of one per every 100 plays on each of the paylines.
- If the player decides to bet only one coin on one of the paylines, each of the three ‘10s’ win would pay off five times as much of the original bet. But, this only occurs once after every one hundred plays.
- A three-10s payoff of five coins will pay one fourth as much as the original 20-coin bet if the player bet a coin on each of the 20 paylines.
- Players are able to collect up to 20 three 10s pays per every 100 spins rather than just one whenever they bet on all lines.
What we see in the above example is that the slot machine will always balance out the wins with the amount that is bet, but will only make three quarters of the payment of the total number of wagers on a single slot machine. When the player bets a single coin per line they wager 100 coins for the 100 spins they get to take.
The players then get to collect up to five coins when they get three 10s on the reels, with one five coin payoff for every 100 coins being reduced to a single coin that is collected per every 20 wagers. Betting a single coin for every line, after 100 spins the player will have spent 2,000 coins. This means the player gets to collect the five coin pay every 20 times per one hundred spins, so the three 10s are paying off 100 coins per every 2,000 coins that are waged. This amount is then reduced to one coin per 20 wagered, which is similar to if the player was betting a single coin.
No Payline Slots
While there are some slot machines which use the scatter symbols where the player gets pain each time three or more of the scatter symbols appear on the reels. But, a majority of the wins in slot machines today still require the winning symbols to be lining up from left to right before they can win a payoff or bonus event.
The well known slot manufacturer, Aristocrat Technologies was the first to take the concept of scatter symbols that are used in slot machines and make it a part of the entire game. This is known as ‘Reel Power’ and it has gained so much in popularity that every slot manufacturer today designs slots which feature their own version of the no paylines slot game. Unlike the scatter pays, the winning symbols on the reels need to appear in line from left to right, and unlike the older slots with traditional paylines, in the Reel Power games, the winning symbols can appear anywhere on the reels. In other words, in the Reel Power games the player is betting on reels rather than paylines.
For example, if a player buys less than five reels in the Reel Power games, the winning symbols can appear anywhere on the bought reels and do not have to be in line from left to right like in the traditional slot machines.
Apart from that, the player of the Reel Power games can also win on the center payline as well. While the winning symbols must appear from left to right on adjacent reels, they do not need to be positioned in line within the five reels that were bought. While this new concept was not adopted by the early slot machines, in the Reel Power slots the only thing that matters is that the symbols be on adjacent reels. It doesn’t matter whether the symbols are in the top, middle or bottom position on the adjacent reels.
The Reel Power slots offer 243 possible ways for players to win, which is why these games are not referred to the Reel Power but ‘243-ways-to-win’ games. The Reel Power games that make use of the ‘free spins’ bonuses are considered to be the most volatile amongst slot machines. These slots are also known as ‘Xtra Reel Power’ by some of the most established slot machine manufacturers such as Aristocrat Technologies. The Xtra Reel Power offers players with 1,024 possible ways to win, and with that many possibilities, these games are more volatile than the Reel Power slots.
Slots with Cascading Reels
The slots that feature cascading reels use traditional paylines, with each of the symbols being turned into individual tiles. So, whenever a player gets the winning combinations, they are paid the corresponding amount. Since these are video slots, the winning symbols then disappear automatically and other symbols take their place. Since there is a tradeoff at a higher percentage of losing your spins in these games as compared to others, which is why the slots featuring cascading reels appear to be more volatile.
- The multiple paylines on the cascading reels slots allow players to have a variety of options when it comes to bets.
- Some of the cascading reels slots require the player to cover all of the paylines.
- In the cascading reels slot game the winning symbols are more likely to appear on any of the paylines.
- The Reel Power games offer players with 243 ways to hit the winning combination, and they don’t require the winning symbols to line up on the paylines as it was with the traditional slot games.
- The cascading reels slot games offer more chances for players to win with each new game.
Payback Percentage vs. Hit Frequency
The payback percentage and the hit frequency are two factors that affect slot games whether it’s on networked and server based slot games. These two features work quite similar to the mechanical reel slots.
- The hit frequency in slots is about the same proportion of spins that pay money.
- The payback percentage in these slots is the proportion of wagers that are returned to the player in the form of winnings.
- The slot games that feature a higher hit frequency also feature payback percentages that are higher, lower or can also be the same as the game with a low hit frequency.
When there is a sufficient amount of returns in the high pay combinations, the game that offers a lower percentage of winning spins may also have higher payback percentages as compared to the game that offers more winning spins but puts more of its returns in the low paying wins.
The Difference Between Gambling and Entertainment Slots
When it comes to video slot machines casino owners like to make a distinction between gambling and entertainment games. The following are some of the features where casino industry professionals like to make a distinction between the two.
- Entertainment games offer higher hit frequencies with a lower probability of hitting a jackpot.
- Entertainment games have been designed to offer the players with an extended play time.
- Players can lose faster on gambling games if they are unable to hit any big wins.
- Gambling games offer low hit frequencies but offer more chances to hit the big payoffs.
There are also some other factors that come in when it comes to the difference between gambling and entertainment video slot games.
- Both online and video slots offer more potential paying combinations.
- The bonus events factor into the payback percentage and the hit frequency features.
- Two-third of the overall slot payouts are on the main game. But, this depends on the game’s manufacturer.
Altering the Hit Frequency
In video slots there are more potential paying combinations. Most video slots offer extra low paying symbols, for example, A, K, Q, J, 10. But, there are ways to make the example given above into a high hit frequency game. The following lines should simplify the arithmetic behind the single payline.
- The total amount of mice symbols can be enhanced on the first three reels.
- The total number of hawks can also be increased on the first two reels.
- The mice symbols on the fourth and fifth squares can be reduced.
- This can then allow the number of hawks on other squares of the reel to be increased.
The same process can be carried out with other symbols as well. The key here is that there should not be the same number as each of the symbols on the reels. For instance, if the number of symbols on each reel is 30, which is a small amount as compared to other slots, we get the following results:
- Up to 2.43 million possible combinations on a five reel slot.
- The payoff for the hawk symbols on the first two reels can be won with 900 two reel combinations.
- The player can win a payoff on either two or more of the hawk symbols once per every 45 spins.
- When five hawks appear on the first reel, with four symbols on the second reel, there are 20 two hawk combinations.
The slot designers are able to work with low payoffs such as those that come once after 45 spins, but they are unable to have higher payoffs on five hawk symbols coming often otherwise the game would not be profitable. This means that the slot designers can put fewer payoffs on subsequent reels.
So, if there are five hawks on the first reel, with four hawks on the second and three on the third, two on the fourth and one on the fifth, that takes the total to 120 five-hawk combinations. This also provides players with 2.43 million five-reel possibilities which would give players a payout once per 20,250 spins.
The following will happen if the game designers want to have a game that has a low hit frequency, with a better chance of winning a larger jackpot:
- Whenever there are two hawks on the first reel, three on the second reel there can only be six two-hawk combos.
- The two symbol payer on the game will now appear once after every 150 plays.
- If three hawk symbols were to be placed on the third and fourth reels and five on the last reel, there would be a total of 270 five-hawk combos.
- The jackpot would not pay only once every 9,000 spins.
Entertainment and Gambling Signposts
In the example that was given above the pay table has not been changed at all, except for the hit frequency on the low pay winner by altering the amount of hawk symbols that were on the first two reels. While the difference is hard to see, in casinos, these differences can be much larger and also much easier to see.
- Slots which have higher jackpots are considered to gambling games as in games that have a low hit frequency.
- The slots which use stacked symbols where the player gets to have big wins on more than one payline simultaneously is usually referred to as gambling games.
- The slots that feature free spins and bonus events are also considered to be gambling games.
- The slots that feature pick’ em bonuses as their main bonus feature are called entertainment games.
Players can sue the big jackpots along with the stacked symbols and bonus events as guides to what the playing experience is going to be like. But, since there are always more than one slot machine on a casino floor, if the player finds that the slot that they are playing is not meeting their expectations, they can simply move on to the next slot machine.
- The hit frequency in slot machines does not necessarily correspond to the payback percentage all the time.
- The hit frequencies in slots can be either increased or decreased by simply changing the proportions of the symbols on the reels.
- While there are no hard and fast rules, casinos mostly offer high hit frequency slots for entertainment and the low hit frequency slots for gambling.
- The stacked symbols, larger jackpots and free spin bonuses are just some of the features that are used in gambling slots.
- Hit frequency and pick’ em bonuses are mostly used in entertainment slots.
Server Based and Networked Slots
Nowadays, casinos do not need to replace an entire machine just to change their game. All they have to do is change the software that has been used for a particular game. It is no secret that slots are chip based games, so in order to change the nature of the game you have to change the chip that is powering it. While the procedures and regulations that go into changing chips in slots differ from state to state, changing a slot game looks like the following:
- Under the supervision of the gaming board a casino employee first unlocks the slot machine door.
- The CPU is then removed and the door is locked.
- The CPU is then taken to the manufacturer or back shop.
- The evidence tape is broken and the chip is removed.
- A new chip is then inserted into the game and the box is resealed with evidence tape.
- The CPU is placed into the machine and the door is relocked.
While the slot players always have questions on the slot machine payback percentage being changed routinely, but whether the payback percentage is changed every week, fortnight or weekday is up to the casino owners. Although, it should be noted that changing the game chip of a single video slot can be time consuming. Besides that, changing the game chips of all of the slots that are on the casino floor will not only be time consuming but also be a costly undertaking as well. That being said, there is a solution to this problem that has been explored in the form of server based gaming.
The server based games makes it easier for casino owners to upload the games that they want straight onto the hard drive of the video slot game from a remote location. While the use of this technology is not wide spread, this type of game is in use in some casinos. This is due to the fact that not all casinos have the technology in place to support these new devices.
Another reason is because they are very expensive to integrate an already fully functioning casino with this new technology. And lastly, making the transition from the traditional slots to server based games is going to be a lengthy process. But, for those casinos that have the infrastructure in place, server based slots offer the following benefits:
- The casino can use the server based technology to attract players with targeted bonuses.
- The server based games can allow casinos to have a two way communication between them and the players.
- It is possible to change the games on different machines all at once regardless of the size of the casino.
- A timer can be set on each of the slot games to change automatically, which would be much more convenient.
Less Time Needed to Change a Machine
The point and click option of choosing games for a particular machine or all of the slot machines in a casino means that there is a significant reduction in the amount of time that is needed to make those changes. Since operators are able to make changes to the paybacks or games with a simple click of a mouse, making the changes is a matter of seconds, rather than hours and days it took to change the machine’s chip on traditional slots.
Casinos get to make Changes According to their Needs
While this is not currently being widely used by American casinos, server based slots give casinos the ability to make specific changes to the games that will ultimately benefit their business. This also includes the changes that help attract new players to the slot machines in a casino. For instance, if the casino owners find that more people prefer to play the video poker slots during the day and play slots at night, the casino owners can set their video games to change according to the specified time in order to attract more players.
While making these changes does require some regulatory approval, the one thing that regulators agree on is that they will not approve of any changes being made automatically when it comes to the payback percentages. The regulators in the US block those casinos where a 92% payback percentage is offered for games to attract players during low traffic times, but drop their payback percentages down to 85% during busy weekends.
All Casino Games can be changed at Once
The operator can identify the machines on the casino floor that can be altered after getting approval from the regulators. This would include identifying individual machines or whole banks of machines that are scattered throughout the casino, so that they can all be changed simultaneously. Once those machines and games have been identified, all the operator has to do is make the necessary changes with a click of a mouse.
Opens Doors to Communication
Casino owners have found out the importance of two-way communication when it comes to slot machines. Thanks to the advancements in technology this can be easily achieved. Well known slot machine manufacturers such as IGT use Service Window as a method of two-way communication. Other companies such as Bally uses iDeck while Aristocrat uses Media Window to connect players with the casino. In those casinos where two-way communication has been activated the players can expect to find the following:
- Players can use the cocktail server to order their favorite drinks.
- Players are allowed to check or redeem reward points through the server.
- Players can make hotel or restaurant reservations beforehand.
- Players can out the services that are provided by other casinos.
The casinos that have activated this technology can send players individual messages automatically and can also:
- Offer the players rewards based on their playing history.
- Offer bonus games or tournaments.
- Offer compensation if a venue is fully booked.
For instance, if a show is scheduled to start and there are still many tickets left, the system scan the information on players and identify all those who would qualify for complimentary tickets to the show. While players can either accept or decline the complimentary tickets that are offered, this practice works wonders when it comes to building rapport with the players.
Another benefit is that there are no added costs to the casino since the tickets would have gone to waste anyway. Lastly, including tournaments or special games helps enhance the player experience and builds an interest in players who would normally not want to spend more time at the casino.
This process can be as simple as getting a special bonus prize delivered to your iDeck, Service Window or Media Window whenever you hit the target amount. Apart from that, players that hit the wagering target amount can find that their winning totals are matched with other qualified players for a certain amount of time, while the top scoring players get an extra bonus. Since server based games are not being used widely in the US, and even the casinos that do use server based games do not offer elaborate prizes slot machine manufacturers are hoping that the server based casino game is able to gain more popularity, but in the end, it is up to the casinos and the users to decide.
The Process of Delivering Casino Games
When it comes to delivering casino games the process is not as simple as sending a particular game directly to the machine on the casino floor which does not require regulations. But, server based games require screening from regulatory bodies before they can be given permission to be used in the casino. If and when a particular game is passed by the regulatory body, it is then sent to the casinos. The regulations concerning casino games differ from state to state. To get a quick idea of the kinds of laws that are in use in the US here’s an example of the state of Indiana:
- Casinos within a state subscribe to monthly updates from casino games manufacturers.
- A sample of the games are then sent by the manufacturer to the casino.
- The ones that are selected are then sent to the gaming board.
- After the casino games are approved by the gaming board, they are delivered to the casino.
- These games are installed in the casino’s server room which is secured using a double-lock system.
- Loading each of the games requires both a member from the gaming board and an employee of the casino to be logged in.
- The double lock system that is used to secure the game’s chip and its contents prevents any unwanted tinkering that’s unauthorized by the casino or a third party.
- All of the changes which are carried out on the games need to be approved by the gaming board first before launched.
Networked Casino Games
Regardless of whether a casino game has been delivered remotely or not, the practice of networking the different machines in a casino has opened up new avenues when it comes to gaming experience and interactivity in both home and casino games. WMS Gaming has been a pioneer in delivering networked casino games, and has launched many popular titles such as the Lord of the Rings slot machine and the Star Trek slot machine. The benefit of using networked casino games are as follows:
- Players are able to create their own identity before they start to play a casino game.
- Players are able to unlock new features such as bonus packages and better graphics during a game.
- Whenever a player logs in to a particular casino game then can begin the game from where they left, without having to start off all over again.
- Those who play casino games from the comfort of their home can also log onto to a free play site to play new casino games, interact with other players and even share ideas with game developers.
- Players are also able to earn special badges which they can share with their friends via social media.
- During each free play event in a game the players can unlock special bonuses for the next time they log in to play at the online casino.
The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek slots were two games that were well received by casino players, especially amongst those players who have grown up in the digital age, and have started playing in casinos.
- The server based casino slots can significantly reduce the time it takes to change slot games.
- Every change to the slot machine needs to be approved by the game regulatory board of that state.
- The use of server based casino games have made possible new varieties of bonuses along with enhancing the communication between the players.
- Multiple bonuses and a more interactive user experience are two of the major benefits of using server based casino games.
The server based casino games has made it easier for players to get the full gaming experience from the comfort of their home.
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