Types of Slot Machines
Slot machines are like anything else—they can be categorized into various types. These categorizations can be based on a number of different factors. This page looks at some of the most common ways of dividing slots into types.
One of the easiest ways of organizing slot machines into different types is by looking at their denominations. Some games only accept pennies, while other machines only accept dollars. Some games allow you to choose from multiple dominations.
The most common denominations for slots play include:
Number of Reels
The spinning symbols on the front of the machine are called “reels”. They used to be large hoops made from metal that physically spun inside the machine, but now they’re usually just for show. In fact, on most modern slot games, these reels are just video screens.
Traditional old-school slot machines have three reels, but more advanced slot machine games use five reels. The additional reels make it possible to have even larger jackpots, because it’s correspondingly harder to win on a game with the additional reels.
You can read more about the different number of reels here:
Slots have changed a huge amount over the years going from very basic games with 3 reels to highly interactive games with feature-rich 3d video and immersive sound. Furthermore, you can find different variations of the machines depending on where you are in the world. The list below covers the main types.
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Class II and Class III Slot Machines
Various jurisdictions in the United States categorize slot machines into one of two classes—class II games and class III games. The latter are the traditional slot machine games you’ll find in Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, and other large gambling destinations. The former are usually found in smaller gambling destinations, often in states which only allow casinos operated by local Native American tribes.
A Class III slot machine is also called a “Vegas-style” slot machine. The outcomes of each spin are determined by the spinning of the reels, and each spin is an independent event. Anything can happen on any given spin, in respect to winning or losing, within the parameters of the game.
Class II slot machines, on the other hand, are more like bingo or lottery games. Instead of playing against the house, the way they do in a Vegas-style game, the players are playing against each other, trying to win a jackpot that has more in common with bingo or lottery. The game looks, sounds, and feels like a traditional slot machine, but the math and the mechanism behind the machine is all bingo-based. The results of the games are dependent on the other results—there are a certain number of wins and losses in each given set of numbers.
Flat Top versus Progressive Slot Machines
At one time, most slot machine games had a fixed top jackpot. Games with a fixed top prize are called “flat top” slot machines, and they’re still common. They offer a lower prize for the big winner, but the chances of winning that big prize are far better than the chances of winning a progressive jackpot.
A progressive slot machine has a jackpot that increases over time. This is usually a tremendously large jackpot, on a par with what someone might win playing the lottery. The game takes a tiny percentage of each bet placed and adds it to the jackpot’s total until it’s won, at which point the game starts over with its starting jackpot.
Progressive slot machines can be subcategorized even further. There are progressive slots which have a jackpot that is unique to an individual machine—these are called standalone progressives. Local area network jackpots, on the other hand, have multiple machines in a single casino, all of which share a single jackpot. These are also quite common.
Wide area progressives are linked across multiple casinos. These have the largest jackpots, because theoretically, a huge number of players are contributing to the jackpot every time they spin the wheel, no matter where they are. The most famous example of this type of slot machine is the Megabucks network, which starts at $10 million. On rare occasions, this game has reached $20 and even $30 million before someone won.
Online versus Land Based Slots
Online slot machine games are played on your computer via the Internet. These games work in a similar manner to traditional Vegas-style slots, but the money is all handled over the Internet, too.
Online slots offer distinct advantages and disadvantages over their land-based cousins. One of the big advantages is that the payout percentage for online games is often higher. The Internet casinos don’t have the same overhead costs as land-based casinos, so they’re able to afford a higher payout percentage.
One of the major disadvantages to playing online is that you don’t receive your winnings immediately. They go into your account at the casino, but you have to withdraw the funds, which usually involves processing time via both the casino’s cashier department and via whatever withdrawal method you’re using.
Loose versus Tight Slot Machines
These “types” are almost entirely subjective. A loose game is one that pays out more money more often, while a tight game is just the opposite. There’s no way for the casual casino customer to evaluate the payout percentage on a slot machine game, though, so it’s a matter of opinion as to whether or not a particular game is loose. You can find a variety of opinions on the matter at various Internet gambling forums, though, especially when it comes to online games.
Traditional slot machine games have one payline—right across the center of the three reels. If the symbols make certain combinations, the game pays out.
Newer slot machine games have multiple paylines on five reels. Some of these patterns are quite complicated, but they increase the player’s chances of winning at least something on every spin. Some machines have 3 paylines, 5 paylines, or even 25 paylines. One new type of slot machine is called “243 ways”, which does away with the concept of paylines entirely—if any combination of winning symbols is in the right order from left to right on the screen, then the machine pays out.
Modern slot machines often feature a bewildering array of bonus games and special wild symbols that function in various ways. And that’s just the state of the industry now. More slot machine types are sure to be developed over the coming decades.