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What to expect from video gaming at bars

John Grochowski

John Grochowski

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Updated: October 22, 2012 6:15AM



The opening in Morton Grove and Rockford of the first test sites for video gambling at Illinois bars and restaurants has prompted several emails from readers wondering just what kinds of games they’ll get.

The basics are simple. Machines are multigame units, with a mix of video slots and video poker. You touch the screen to choose the game you want. There is a maximum bet of $2 and a maximum payout of $500. No facility may have more than five machines.

Beyond that, readers asked for a few specifics that I’ll try to answer.

◆ Games will have random number generators, just like those in casinos. One reader asked if machines will be video lottery terminals like those in New York, where the effect is an electronic stack of scratch-off cards. Whatever is on those “cards” determines your outcome, and player decisions make no difference.

That’s not the case here. These are RNG games, and any result is possible on every spin. Your choices, including video poker strategy, do matter, and you can win even if no one else is playing.

◆ There is a central monitoring system, but it’s there for game security and to monitor the money coming into and going out of the machines, not to determine outcome. With the potential for thousands of machines in hundreds, if not thousands, of locations, up-to-date electronic monitoring systems were essential for the Illinois Gaming Board to regulate video gaming.

◆ Even games of the same theme and look will be somewhat different than those in casinos. When I toured WMS Gaming’s new facility on the North Side several weeks ago, I asked how much change had to be made in translating games for the new environment. I was told a surprising amount of work had to be done with the math of the games to keep the payback percentages up while reducing the top jackpots.

The most obvious change will be the simplest. Quarter video poker games that pay a $1,000 jackpot on a royal flush when five coins are wagered will be able to pay only $500 in bars and restaurants. Video poker paybacks will be a percent lower than casino games that match the rest of the pay tables.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44); Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at casinoanswerman.com.



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