Why Are Certain Slots Only Available in Certain States?

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Astute players often notice that some games never make it into some states. Is there a reason for that, a player asks?

My question is about online slots. I play online primarily and want to know why certain online games vary state to state. Such as Devils Lock being available in New Jersey vs PA not having that available? I noticed this in casinos as well.

Wendy R.

As you noted, Wendy, this happens in both physical casinos and online casinos. And the reasons for this will be similar, so let’s take a look at the main reasons why a slot machine might not show up in casinos in certain states vs. others.

The Provider is Not Licensed by a State/Tribal Authority

The gaming market is highly regulated, and those regulations tend to be set on a state to state basis, or on a tribe by tribe basis depending on the structure and the type of casino. If a provider isn’t licensed to provide games in a certain market, that would be an easy reason why such games aren’t available.

While it might seem logical that a provider would want to be available in as many markets as possible, and some are, there is a cost aspect to being licensed in various markets, and also having to abide by various regulations for those markets, so sometimes for business simplicity or to manage what can be done, a provider may be more selective as to where they do business when they’re on the smaller side in particular.

You site Devil’s Lock, which is a game by Bluberi – they’re a great example of a provider that isn’t in all markets yet. Devil’s Lock isn’t available in Nevada, for instance, in part because Bluberi is not yet licensed in Nevada (as of this posting).

Online, game providers are still approved by gaming authorities, so if a particular provider isn’t approved for a state, their games aren’t going to show up either.

The Game is Not Certified for a Certain Market

One of the critical steps in a game’s development is being tested by a third-party company. The game, too, has to be approved by the gaming commission. So sometimes providers will opt not to release all games and all markets for cost considerations.

This, too, will oftentimes come down to provider budgets and goals, but you’ll see games more likely to skip markets by smaller providers than larger ones, or markets with less casinos than more where the economics may simply not work out.

Online, too, the scenario is similar – games are also lab tested and then games are approved in markets. So these steps are similar.

A Cabinet is Not Available in the Market

Slot machine games for physical casinos are developed to be deployed on specific machinery. This is not unlike a PC or Mac program being deployed to specific Macs or PCs that meet the specifications required – slots are just a more specific variation of this.

Cabinets also have to be approved, and if they are not in a certain market, the games that are made for that cabinet won’t be available for similar reasons.

This is less a concern for online markets, as games are designed to be able to be integrated with various casino platforms. Smaller providers may sometimes partner with a larger distributor to help do so on their behalf.

The Game Maker Doesn’t Have a Relationship with the Casinos There

Even if a provider is approved to make games in a market, and has games that are approved for that market, casinos still need to want to put those games in their casinos. For the physical world, there is a finite amount of space, so all the game providers are fighting for market share to put their new games onto those casino floors.

Online, there isn’t the physical limitation of space, so that does make it a bit easier to build a game library online, and one game can be played by some n number of people vs. the 1 machine, 1 player relationship on a slot floor. 

So that improves the chances the games will find themselves somewhere on the online casinos. But those business relationships still need to be worked out, and if they haven’t happened yet, that can explain why the game isn’t showing up yet.

Exclusivity Windows

The final example of why a game might not be around could be a business decision to give a casino exclusivity for a period of time. For instance, when Anaxi, Aristocrat’s online real money gaming division, launched Buffalo to online slots, BetMGM had an exclusive offering of it for a few weeks before it rolled out to other casinos.

Physical casinos will do this too – exclusive launches at certain casinos for a short window, before the game appears at others and the game’s release expands. Normally this particular angle is touted publicly in marketing, so it’s a big more obvious when this happens.


The slot machine business is a bit complex, and there’s a lot of aspects in play when it comes to why certain things can happen. Hopefully this helps shed light as to why a certain game might not make it to casino floors in a particular area.

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2 Replies to “Why Are Certain Slots Only Available in Certain States?”

  • Chris hill says:

    Please can you tell me if a visitor from another country who does not have a green card and has no rights to work in the USA why are they subject to paying taxes on large slot wins with no way of recovering those taxes at the end of the financial year
    Is this a scam by the inland revenue department on tourists to the USA
    PLEASE let me know

    • FlipTheSwitch.com says:

      Visitors visiting another country are subject to the laws of the country they visit, which includes taxation (some of these taxes many of us don’t ever think about, like sales tax when buying items in a store). Some countries have negotiated tax treaties with the US that can avoid having taxes taken out upfront if the proper paperwork is filed. Others can file to have the money refunded at the end of the tax year (this is the case in Canada, for instance). So we always suggest talking to an accountant familiar with US gaming tax laws (or are savvy enough to do research on your behalf) to determine what can be done if you get a jackpot and are taxed. But we don’t like throwing around the word scam – tax laws are what they are and all of us do our best to deal with them the best way we can.

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