Class II & Class III Slot Machines Defined

Class II and Class III Slot MachinesIf you walk into a room with two slot machines, and are told one is Class II, the other Class III, could you tell the difference? If you’re a casual gambler, probably not. On the outside, Class II and Class III slot machines look exactly the same. But as with so many things in life, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Class II slot machines are a North American concept, often found in Native American casinos, charitable gaming facilities, and horse tracks with slots parlors (not full casinos) attached. Class III slot machines are the type employed by full-fledged casinos, found throughout integrated resorts in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Macau, etc.

Why Class II Slot Machines?

These games were originally developed to adhere to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA). Native American casinos could only provide gambling games that were legal within the jurisdiction their lands are located on. In many cases, that means traditional (Class III) slot machines are prohibited.

The IGRA defines Class II gaming as:

the game commonly known as bingo (whether or not electronic, computer, or other technological aids are used in connection therewith) … including (if played in the same location as the bingo) pull tabs, punch board, tip jars, instant bingo, and other games similar to bingo.”

Thus the easiest way to describe a Class II slot machine is to compare it to a game of bingo. The only difference is that the machines’ manufacturers cleverly designed them to look and feel like real slot machines.

Why Class III Slot Machine?

Class III Slot MachinesClass III slot machines are the real deal. These are the games that carry multiple features, bonus rounds, huge progressive jackpots. Equipped with a random number generator (RNG), their reels come in all shapes and sizes, as do the potential payouts.

What defines a game as a Class III slot machine is the pure element of unpredictable chance, the way payout percentages are programmed, and the RNG that guarantees an unpredictable outcome with each spin.

Its definition is lax, at best. The IGRA states:

The term “class III gaming” means all forms of gaming that are not class I gaming or class II gaming.”

For the record, Class I gaming has nothing to do with slot machines or anything like them. It refers to “social games” with “minimal value”, played “as a part of, or in connection with, tribal ceremonies or celebrations.” Only Class II and Class III slot machines apply here.

Types of Class II Slot Machines

A Class II slot machine is not actually a slot machine, thus you won’t find that term anywhere on the device. Instead, they go by common names like Bingo Liners, Historic Racing Machines, TapTix and Virtual Lottery Terminal.

Bingo Liners: These are slot machines in appearance, but bingo games within. They are easy to identify, as they actually show a bingo card at the top of the screen. Also like bingo, the player can change their bingo card at any time. When a player spins the reels, bingo numbers are electronically drawn to fill the card. If the bingo card wins, the reels will stop in a winning position. If not, the spin will lose.

Historic Racing Machines: Built on a similar concept, these Class II slot machines require the player to select one of a number of race horses. The winner of the race is based on an actual, historic horse race that took place years ago. Of course, players have no insight as to which race it is, or the real names of the horses involved, thus there’s no way to cheat. Pick the right pony, and the slots spin will be a winner.

TapTix: These games, found in Ontario gaming facilities, are the equivalent of break-open ticket games. Every outcome is predetermined. When a player pushes the spin button, the reels go round, but the machine already knows if it’s going to be a winner or not.

Virtual Lottery Terminal: Common in US states like New York, VLTs give players the experience of a slot machine, but are more akin to scratch-off tickets. Each push of the Spin button is like scratching off a lottery ticket, and the machine already knows if you’re going to win or lose.

Types of Class III Slot Machines

Walk into any real, state/provincially regulated casino, like those in Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, or Macau, and you will find genuine, Class III slot machines. They are also found in every online casino. They typically come in two varieties; Classic 3 Reel Slots, and 5 Reel Video Slots.

Classic 3 Reel Slots: These are known as ‘classic’ slots because in the old days, slot machines had just 3 reels. The goal is to line up 3 alike symbols across the center line. Some 3 reel slots have 3 or 5 winning paylines, running across the top and bottom lines, and diagonally left to right.

5 Reel Video Slots: These are much more common today, especially with modern graphic capabilities. They come in myriad themes, and are often equipped with an array of features, like wilds, free spins, multipliers, and bonus rounds. While the payout percentages are no different from 3 reel classics, the entertainment value—and number of paylines—can be much higher.

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