So far we’ve looked at two examples of gaming machines you may encounter on the floor, both with ties to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act:
- Class II Machines, which are effectively machines that aid the betting and participation in games of Bingo
- Class III Machines, which for the purposes of regulations are most casino games, but for the purposes of talking about slot machine style gaming is Vegas-style slots
Other machine types go beyond the IGRA into other forms of approved betting scenarios. For this week’s review we look at one that covers another relatively widespread gambling scenario that has been adapted through video technology: Horse racing.
Like Bingo Machines, but Using Horse Racing
Similar to how Bingo machines effectively allow you to see a slot machine-style outcome but you’re really playing Bingo, Historic Horse Racing machines let you bet on the outcome of horse races, just like you could at any Off Track Betting parlor or horse racing facility.
Where it diverges, however, is that you’re betting on historical races, which takes out the challenge of each horse race needing to actually be run out in real time – since they’ve already happened, you can accelerate to the outcome and the confirmation of whether a bet was a winner or a loser.
There are two main companies providing solutions, and both specialize in solutions for horse racing operators, designed to align with regulations for horse racing to minimize issues around legality or state support. The earliest ones, and still a popular solution, was developed by AmTote and is known today as PariMax, while Exacta Systems has quickly gained attention for their system, a more recent entry in the market.
Bet on Horses, See Reels Animate
The machines are set up so you can choose to actually watch or replay the actual outcome, if that interests you, or tuck it away and focus on the reels, which simply animate an outcome that coincides with the results of your wager. Bonuses are therefore completely predetermined, as the outcome of the horse race was decided in the past, and so the game is just providing slot machine-style entertainment.
Since these are horse racing betting terminals, they follow the same pari-mutuel rules that govern horse racing, so like the Bingo games you’re betting along with others linked to the same race. Similar to horse racing, where you can bet offsite, it’s not unreasonable to expect as these systems grow people in different locations can and would be linked, growing the overall prize pool, just like actual horse racing, and the way the bets are made at each station could impact the overall prize payout.
In pari-mutual racing, the racetrack operator gets a percentage cut out of the overall prize pool, so that’s how they make their money – that’s the house edge. The rest is distributed based on the bets, and the outcome of the horse race. As such the way machines pay out may “feel” different since it will closely follow how actual horse racing pays. But like in actual horse racing, there’s less risky and more risky scenarios you can bet, and the payouts and frequency of wins can track accordingly.
This allows horse racing operators to have two ways to draw in players – those familiar with and comfortable with horse racing may like the ability to bet in a new way, while slot players can get a similar experience playing games, with the underlying horse racing systems allowing for wagering on machines that look and feel like slots.
One last difference: Since horse racing is usually governed by different laws than casinos, many allow those 18 and up to visit. This can extend to Historic Horse Racing machines as well. This also will pop up when we talk about Video Lottery Terminals next week.
Similar to how Bingo games have evolved to have a nearly zero difference in look and feel to Vegas-style slot machines, Historic Horse Racing games continue to evolve to leverage improving technology and computer capabilities. Exacta’s systems are designed to let for other types of games to be swapped in if legality changes in a given market, so this also prepares operators for the future if other types of gaming become legal. But until then, horse racing operators, who have been pinched for some time, may find new life with these games.
Watch and Learn
Rosie’s Gaming Emporium, a company that is opening a series of gaming parlors with Off Track Betting and Historical Horse Racing machines in Virginia, is using games made by Exacta Systems. They had an introductory video that they’ve taken down, but a similar video they did with the Virginian Pilot is still available:
They have a feature called “Autocap,” which preselects the best chances of winning based on the odds at the time. With that enabled, the game plays an awful lot like a slot machine because you don’t have to do anything other than hit spin, and the Easy Bet buttons exist to further facilitate that and bring it more in line with a slot machine. This is how they provide machines that would be attractive to the more traditional slot machine player.
Have you ever played Historical Horse Racing machines? Did you like them? Share your thoughts in the comments!