How To Tell If A Slot Machine Is Progressive – Just a few decades ago, these games were targeted at women and the elderly. Casino managers do not take these games or the people who play them seriously.
All this began to change in the mid-1980s, but these changes took place during the 1990s.
How To Tell If A Slot Machine Is Progressive
1. “Time on Device” (TOD) is the number 1 indicator that casinos and slot machine manufacturers are concerned with.
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Casino and gambling machine manufacturers have figured out that the number one predictor of a game’s profitability is the average amount of time gamblers spend on that device. When designing new games, slot machine manufacturers (IGT, Bally, WMS, etc.) focus on features that increase this amount.
One way to look at a game with a high “time on device” is how well it gets the bettor into the “zone.” This is a state of mind where it is just a gambler and a machine. According to some anecdotal reports, this type of thinking takes the place of worrying about winning big.
You can think of this area as a place where time and normal social pressures have no meaning.
Most casino games use a deck of cards or a pair of dice or something similar to generate their random results. These are examples of games where you know the odds of winning the bet.
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After all, there are 52 cards in the deck, so the odds of getting a particular card is 51 to 1. All other possibilities can be calculated if you know the make-up of the deck.
There are only 6 sides on the die in the game of craps, so there is a limited number of combinations. Calculating the odds of any outcome is relatively simple math.
But in slot machines, you have symbols that pay out at a certain rate when you get a certain combination of those symbols on the screen at the same time in a row. But you have no way of determining the odds of getting a certain symbol on a particular spin.
Therefore, the house edge for slot machines is often higher than the house edge for other games. Blackjack has a low house edge between 0.5% and 1% (assuming you play well). Even if you play poorly, the house edge at blackjack can be as high as 4% or more.
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But the house edge for most slots is 5% or more. And you have no way of knowing whether the game you are playing has a house edge of 5% or 25%. In fact, 2 similar machines sitting next to each other can have vastly different payback ratios.
The casino industry changed dramatically in the mid-1980s. At that time, slot machines were considered a distraction for women. Girlfriend and husband are real gamblers and addicted to games like blackjack and craps.
Slots didn’t even have stools in front of them in those days. They are placed in the hallway or near the elevator – the idea is to avoid taking up space on the gambling floor. They are located in areas where people move from point A to point B.
It only took a decade for slot machines to start generating twice as much annual revenue as all table games combined. By 2003, gambling machines generated 85% of casino revenue.
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You often see 65% or 70% referrals on websites, by the way. My best guess is that this number was true at one time, but the internet is like a noisy chamber. When someone wrote a page that cited statistics, other webmasters published similar pages by paraphrasing the previous page. Few online writers spend much time doing actual research from legitimate print sources.
A progressive jackpot game is one where the size of the jackpot grows with every spin of the reels. You can find 3 types of progressive slots:
A local advanced is a network with a group of other slot machines within the same casino. Playing on any machine makes the jackpot for all those games grow. If the jackpot is hit on any machine, the jackpot on all machines returns to its starting point. (It’s a shared jackpot.)
Wide area progressives are games that are networked across multiple casinos. These are games where the jackpots get high enough to compete with lottery games.
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The biggest example of wide area advancement is Megabucks. The jackpot for this game starts at $10 million and grows until it gets hit. The jackpot has increased to more than 30 million dollars on at least 2 different occasions.
Although the odds of winning a progressive jackpot are significantly better than the odds of winning the lottery, a progressive jackpot is still a bet where the odds are stacked against you in an almost understandable way. The chance of winning the lottery is about 1 in half a million. The chance of winning the MegaBucks jackpot is about 1 in a quarter million.
Another difference is that you will see less frequent payouts when playing on MegaBucks slots. It is a slot machine, after all.
Modern slots are made up of over 1200+ individual components that are put together by 300+ people from design to manufacturing and assembly of those components. The relevant section now includes items that Charles Fey, the inventor of the slot machine, would not recognize:
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These games used to be straightforward. You insert a coin, pull a lever, and find a combination of symbols across the pay lines. Now you have to choose how much to bet, insert paper money or tickets, and press a button or screen to start the game. You can bet as little as $1 per line per spin or $100 per line per spin – on the same machine.
The reels are 3D animations on the video screen, and instead of a single pay line, you have dozens of potential ways to win (and/or lose). The pay table is available on the screen, but you have to go to another screen to see it.
And many of these games are now connected to other games and computer programs that collect data into the hands of the marketing department of the casino.
Many factors have increased the popularity of these games throughout the United States. Some of this has to do with the economy during the Reagan and Bush administrations.
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Those two administrations cut federal funding to most states during the recession. Those state governments need to find ways to generate revenue without directly raising taxes. Legislating and taxing gambling is an easy way to do it.
While this is going on, video games in general are growing in popularity. And since most machine gamblers are women and the elderly who play low stakes, industry spokespeople have begun to discuss their industry using a redefined word – “gaming”, instead of “gambling”.
The combination of these factors with the technological innovations that occurred at the time created a perfect storm that made slot machines by far the largest source of revenue in the US gambling industry.
In 2000, slot machines were only legal in 31 states. Since then, they have been legalized and regulated in 10 additional states. Other states are considering legalization as well.
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But these nearly 1 million machines are not the only examples of the industry in action. There are countless underground machines even in states where gambling is illegal. These games are unlicensed and unregulated—you’ll find them in bars, gas stations, and restaurants in states like Texas, where there are no legalized casinos.
These unregulated games are often billed as “amusement devices” or “games of chance”. In Texas, the term used for them is “8 liners”, and the entire business (“game room”) is dedicated to giving gamers the chance to play for prizes that you can easily buy at Dollar General. I visited a game room where you could win a dozen cans of creamed corn or some gardening tools.
It looks like 800,000+ slot machines in one country will set a record. But it doesn’t. It just made the US #2 worldwide.
The number 1 country for slot machines is Japan. They have nearly 5 million slot games in the country. And considering that Japan has about 1/3 the population of the United States, the number of slots per capita is considerable.
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For every 27 people in Japan, you will find a slot machine. In the United States, you will find one slot machine for every 350 people.
So, yes, we have a lot of gaps in the United States. But we don’t come close to the slot machine fever they have in Japan.
Another example of how the gambling landscape in the United States has changed is the rise of local gamblers. The population of Las Vegas quadrupled from 1980 to 2010, from 450,000 to 2 million. But 2/3 of Vegas residents gamble.
And 2/3 of those gamblers play at least monthly, for 4+ hours per session.