John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A shuffle through the Gaming mailbag:

Q. A few weeks ago, I played some slot machines that had bingo logos on them. Inside the logos, you could see numbers being added as the reels were spinning.

I got paid off or not according to what happened on the reels and paylines, or in the bonuses. I didn’t really see that those numbers in the bingo area did anything. There were no extra pays and there didn’t seem to be any kind of bingo promotion going on.

Do you know what was happening?

A. You were in a Native American casino, playing a Class II machine.

In definitions for tribal gaming, Class II games are bingo-based, with centrally determined results. The game you’re playing is electronic bingo, with numbers drawn on a central processor and relayed to individual games.

The results of the bingo games are then translated into slot reels or bonuses. The reels, symbols and bonus screens are there as a user-friendly interface, giving players slot machine entertainment.

If you play for long, you can watch the bingo numbers build into patterns, and recognize patterns that will bring winning spins.

Not all Native American casinos have Class II games, and even those that do often have more Class III games than Class II.

Class III slot machines have random number generators determining results at each game – the same as the slots you find in commercial casinos.

Payoffs on Class II slots come from a pool of wagers and cannot exceed the amount wagered on games linked to the central processor. Class III games are banked by the casino.

Nevertheless, payback percentages can be similar. There is nothing to stop a game manufacturer or a casino from setting the odds so that normal results will lead to the same percentages on Class II as Class III games.

Whether a tribal casino has Class II slots, Class III or both is dependent on the sponsoring tribe’s compact with the host state. Some states put a limit on Class III games, leaving the casinos to fill out their floors with Class II slots. Others do not restrict Class III slots. The Connecticut casinos Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, for example, use entirely Class III games with no Class II slots at all.

Q. I go maybe twice a month to a casino that’s a half-hour drive from me. They have a video poker area toward the back of the casino, they have a video poker bar with maybe 10 seats and they have a few other banks of video poker scattered around the casino.

In the video poker area, the 25-cent games are so-so, with 8-5 Jacks or Better (97.3 percent with expert play), 9-6-5 Double Bonus (97.8), 7-5 Bonus Poker (98.0) and 9-5 Double Double Bonus (97.9).

The scattered games aren’t as good: 7-5 JB (96.2). 9-6-4 DB (96.4). 6-5 BP (96.9), and 8-5 DDB (96.8).

But the bar has the real thing: 9-6 JB (99.5), 9-7-5 DB (99.1), 8-5 BP (99.2) and 9-6 DDB (99.0).

Needless to say, I settled in at the bar.

A. Any serious video poker player should take a walk around a casino to check out the pay tables before playing.

A variety of pay tables are available from game manufacturers – primarily IGT for video poker – and casino operators choose which to order to fill their own goals and needs.

Slot execs weigh what will satisfy dedicated video poker players, what will be enough to satisfy others who play on a whim and what will create movement through the casino.

In any case, it’s best to check it all out before you spend your money.