A video lottery terminal or VLT is a gaming machine that allows gamblers to bet on the outcome of a video game.
The outcome of each wager on a VLT is random. VLT operators are not able to program the total amount wagered, or payouts, through the central computer system. A minimum percentage payout usually is written into that jurisdiction's law. That percentage is realized not by manipulation of the game, but by adjusting the expected overall payout.
Some lottery devices that appear to be VLTs actually are computerized scratch-off lottery tickets, as the terminal does not contain a random number generator (RNG); the results that are displayed are controlled by the central computer. These devices display results from a fixed pool.
It may look like a regular slot machine and play like one, but a video lottery terminal differs quite a bit in terms of how winners are determined.
VLTs are usually equated more with games like bingo, pull-tabs, scratch-offs, or lotto than they are with slot machines. This is because there are a pre-determined number of winners, and players are competing with each other for a prize rather than against the house. There is also not necessarily a winner in each game.
Video Lottery Terminals (Class II machines)
VLTs are most often found in Indian gaming casinos or “racinos” (location with both a horse racetrack, as well as a casino). Each machine or terminal in a casino is linked together, forcing players to compete against one another for the prize, and with a set number of wins an losses, the group of machines is preprogramed to payout at specific times.
The only catch is that players must announce their win in order to get the payout, because the games are interactive. Although not every game has a winner, the game will be ongoing until a winner is determined.
As indicated by the name, VLT winners are determined much like a lottery scratch card. Basically, when a game starts on a VLT, the system the machines are connected to randomly chooses a “scratch-off ticket” from those that remain. Once it receives the information regarding the winner, it sends the results to the VLT to reveal the winner, typically in some entertaining way.
Obviously, the machine doesn’t have the ability to actually scratch off a ticket, but it does choose the winner from a pool, similar to a lottery ticket. Once all the outcomes in a pool are chosen, the central system receives a new pool.
The payouts can be slightly different on VLTs, as well. According to readybetgo.com, “The final results wouldn’t be noticeably different if the RNG simply picked one number from a group of numbers. Thus the mathematic methods of supplying the decisions in VLTs may be radically different than traditional RNG methods. But in the end, 1 in 10 is still 1 in 10, and 1 in 5,000 is still 1 in 5,000.” This goes on to say that the reason VLTs can be slightly tighter is that they’re offered in areas where there is little competition. In fact, the typical payout is anywhere from 85% to 92%. So, if you’re playing in a casino that offers both VLTs and tradition slots, you’re probably better off with the latter.