Why Do Types of Machines Differ in Different States?

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The array of gaming options continues to evolve – and increase. But why are there so many types out there nowadays, a player wonders:

Why do some states allow RNG games while others use horse racing or electronic bingo machines and do these machines have better odds?


The reason for the differing game options largely has to do with what a state has legalized. Where traditional Vegas-style slots are approved (those are the Class III machines that rely on a Random Number Generator, or RNG), traditionally that’s what you’ll most often find.

Tribal gaming markets where Vegas style slots aren’t approved, or are limited in quantity, will many times feature Bingo machines to get around this – they were basically developed as a legal workaround as Bingo machines were effectively allowed without state approval.

Historic Horse Racing games have popped up where slot machines may not be legal, but betting on a horse race is, and here too the machines are a legal loophole to work within what’s allowed in a given state.

There’s even other types of games out there, like those found in Washington State casinos or New York racinos, which both tend to operate more like electronic pull tabs or scratchers than a slot machine in structure.

Whether these games have better odds can depend on how they’re set up, and we dove into this recently here on You Asked! at least when it comes to Bingo machines, but generally, for various reasons, they will tend to be a better gamble, particularly on lower denominations, due to the structure of the games. 

For instance, New York racino machines must all have at least a 90 percent payback percentage, including at the 1 cent denomination level. Compared to what 1 cent slots pay back in Atlantic City, it tends to be a better long-term bet. (No wonder, then, that some of these racinos are applying for traditional casino licenses to not only offer live table games, but offer real slots with better long-term earnings for the house.)

A lot of Historic Horse Racing systems have house advantages that are lower than what low denomination slots would traditionally provide as well. And while Bingo is up to the payout structure that a casino opts to offer, anecdotal information points to better payouts, in part because casinos want players to trust them and they think a looser casino floor will encourage this. But casinos could set their slots looser too – and some do as a marketing advantage.

So ultimately, as the various methods of building slot-like games evolve and get more similar in look and feel to actual Vegas-style slots, it’s fair to expect they’ll be similar in structure and payout, if not a touch better due to how they’re regulated and designed. So they’re certainly fine to play from that perspective.

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