All this began to change in the mid-1980s, but these changes began in the 1990s.
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1. “Time On Device” (TOD) is the #1 metric that casinos and slot machine manufacturers are concerned about.
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Casinos and slot machine manufacturers have realized that the #1 predictor of a game’s profit is the average time the gamer spends on the device. When creating new games, slot machine manufacturers (IGT, Bally, WMS, and others) focus on features that will increase this number.
Another way to look at a game with a high “Device Time” is whether it attracts a “local” bettor. This is a state of mind where it is just a game and a machine. According to some anecdotal reports, this type of thinking replaces the preoccupation with winning a lot of money.
You can think of this place as a place where time and normal social pressures cease to have meaning.
Most casino games use a deck of cards or dice or something comparable to generate their random results. Those are examples of games where you know the odds of winning the game.
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Actually, there are 52 cards in the deck, so the odds of getting a particular card are 51 to 1. All other odds can be calculated if you know how the deck is made.
There are only 6 sides in the game of craps, so there are a limited number of combinations. Calculating the probabilities of any outcome is relatively simple math.
But in a slot machine, you have symbols that pay a certain amount when you get certain combinations of those symbols on the screen at the same time in a line. But you have no way to determine the chances of getting a particular symbol on any given spin.
As a result, the house edge of a slot machine is usually 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 in blackjack can be 4% or more.
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But the house edge for most slot machines is 5% or more. And you have no way of knowing whether the game you are playing has a 5% or 25% house edge. In fact, 2 identical machines sitting next to each other can have different recovery percentages.
The casino industry changed dramatically in the mid-1980s. At that time, slot machines were considered a hindrance to women. The girls and their husbands were the ones who really gambled and were engaged in games like blackjack and craps.
The slots had no seats in front of them in those days. They were placed in the hall or near the elevator—the idea was to avoid taking up space in the gambling area. They were in places where people went from place A to place B.
It only took ten years for slot machines to generate double the annual revenue of all table games combined. In 2003, slot machines generated 85% of casino revenue.
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You will often see 65% or 70% quoted on different websites, by the way. My best guess is that this number WAS true at one time, but the Internet is like a giant echo chamber. Once someone writes a page somewhere citing statistics, other webmasters publish similar pages that describe those earlier pages. Few web writers spend much time doing real research from legitimate publishing sources.
A progressive jackpot game is one in which the size of the top jackpot grows with every spin. You can find 3 types of progressive slots:
A progressive home slot is linked to a group of other slot machines within the same casino. Play on any of those machines makes the jackpot of all those games grow. If the jackpot is hit on one of those machines, the jackpot on all machines goes back to where it started. (It’s a shared jackpot.)
Progressive slots are linked games in many casinos. These are games where the jackpots reach high enough to compete with lottery games.
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A great example of a broad progressive site is Megabucks. The jackpot for this game starts at $10 million and grows until it is hit. The jackpot has grown to over $30 million on 2 separate occasions.
Although the odds of winning a progressive jackpot are better than the odds of winning the lottery, a progressive jackpot is still a bet where the odds are stacked against you in a somewhat understandable way. The odds of winning the lottery are about 1 in half a million. The odds of winning the MegaBucks jackpot are about 1 in a quarter of a million.
Another difference is that you will see smaller payouts more often when you play the MegaBucks slot machine. After all, it’s a slot machine.
Modern slots are made of more than 1200+ components that are put together by 300+ people from design to manufacturing and assembly of those components. The features involved now include things that Charles Fey, the inventor of the slot machine, would not have noticed:
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These games were previously straight. You insert coins, draw a blade, and look for a combination of symbols across the pay line. Now you have to choose how much to bet, insert paper money or tickets, and press the buttons or the screen to start the game. You can bet as little as a penny per line per spin or $100 per line per spin — on one machine.
The reels are 3D animations on the video screen, and instead of one pay line, you have multiple ways to win (and/or lose). The pay table is also available on the screen, but you have to go to another screen to view it.
And many of these games are now linked to other games and computer programs that collect information that goes into the hands of the casinos’ marketing departments.
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 many states during the recession. It was necessary for the governments of those countries to find ways to get money without raising taxes directly. Legalizing and taxing gambling was an easy way to do it.
While this was going on, video games in general were also exploding in popularity. And since most of the people who bet on the machines were women and older people who played for less money, industry advocates began to talk about their industry using a redefined word—”gaming.” , rather than “gambling”.
The combination of these facts and the technological developments that were taking place at the time created the perfect storm that made slot machines the largest source of income in the United States gambling industry. .
In the year 2000, slot machines were legal in only 31 states. Since then they have been legalized and regulated in 10 other countries. Other countries are considering legalization, too.
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But these close to 1 million machines are not the only example of a working industry. There are many underground machines that can be found even in states where gambling machines are illegal. These games are illegal and unregulated – you’ll find them in bars, gas stations and restaurants like Texas, where there are no legal casinos.
These unregulated games are often billed as “entertainment facilities” or “sweepstakes games”. In the state of Texas, the common term for them is “8 liners”, and all businesses (“game rooms”) are dedicated to allowing sports enthusiasts the opportunity to play for prizes that you can easily buy at Dollar General. I visited another game room where you could win 12 cans of popcorn or other garden supplies.
It would seem that 800,000+ slot machines in one country would set a record. But that’s not the case. It just makes the United States #2 in the world.
The #1 country for slot machines is Japan. They have about 5 million slot machine games in the country. And considering that Japan has a population of about 1/3 of the population of the United States, the number of slot machines per person is very large.
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For every 27 people in Japan, you will find a slot machine. In the United States, you will find one cash machine for every 350 people.
So, yes, we have many locations in the United States. But we’re nowhere near the kind of slot machine fever they have in Japan.
Another example of how the state of gambling in the United States has changed is the increase in the number of gamblers in the region. The population of Las Vegas quadrupled from 1980 to 2010, from 450,000 to 2 million people. But 2/3 of Vegas residents gamble.
And 2/3 of those gamblers play at least monthly, for 4+ hours per session.