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New York Lottery Machines and the Case of the Curious Repeating Bonuses

Ultimate Fire Link by Bally machines side by side
Written by Joshua

In the past I wrote up some posts talking about some of the differences between standard, Class III/Vegas-style slot machines and some of the slot-like machines that nevertheless work and function differently (primarily in the fact that their outcomes are determined outside the machine).

One of the variations is what you’ll find in casinos connected in New York to the New York Lottery, such as Empire City Casino, Resorts World and Jake’s 58 on Long Island. The games you play in those casinos are not slots, but what are effectively a digital approximation of a scratch card.

In those cases, each spin is effectively the purchase of a digital scratch card out of a pool of possible cards. The outcome of the scratch card value is then rendered in the form of a slot machine.

One quirk out of this is there’s only so many outcomes. While on slot machines those outcomes can get into the millions easily, with scratch cards the pool can be smaller. That’s because prizes can often repeat, and there may be only so many visual outcomes that are rendered for a prize.

Now, if you’re visualizing this through, say, a three reel slot machine, the number of distinct prizes and reel stops are such that it maps out pretty easily. But on more complicated games, it can be harder to get into the nuances of how these games works. The outcome can be a very weird scenario where you get repeated bonuses of the exact same type.

My fellow casinogoer and friend Natasha shared these images awhile ago, and she gave me permission to share them here. All three wins on Ultimate Fire Link took place on the same night, and as you can see by the credit balances came from three different bonuses. But if you look closely, the wager was the same, the final prize was the same, and the balls and ball values were in identical places on the board.

Now, because of the digital scratch-off nature of the machines, the prizes of these bonuses were determined the moment the game was bought. The prize was the same. And the game either only had one way to render this particular prize, or had very few choices and so rendered them the exact same way.

The reality is in this sort of format, it can be difficult to make a complicated game like Fire Link render with the same level of game design complexity as it would in its original, Vegas-style slot glory. The volatility, prize distribution and so on can be identical, but the game can have weird quirks like this to fit into the box of what New York Lottery game products can handle or work within.

While not to the same extreme, I’ve seen scenarios where I get the exact same reel layouts multiple times in relatively close succession. It doesn’t change my enjoyment of the game, but I do notice the differences, and I’m sure other players do too.

Of course, there’s benefits to New York Lottery games, such as the requirement to have all games designed to pay at least 90 percent, higher than many casinos pay at penny denomination, so it can be a better bet.

So if you visit these sorts of facilities, notice these unusual win layouts, and wonder why, it’s a pretty simple explanation. Don’t let it ruin your fun!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.


  • Mind blown. What an interesting read – I had no idea there were these variations in the U.S. What is the motivation for these scratch-card like games? Is it different laws or licenses or something?

    Thanks again,

    • Hey Kevin,

      In the case of New York, it’s what they allowed under the law. The New York Lottery licenses (many with racetracks) were done at a different point than the more traditional casino resorts now also open. There are also some Class II/Bingo operations at some of the tribal gaming facilities. So it’s a bit of a mix of everything there.

      Because certain casinos are through the lottery, the games are run like they are through the lottery as well – in other words, digital variations of a scratch-off.

      • I play at Empire city in ny. So VLT’s. Given that the outcome is decided the second I hit play, does it matter which choices one makes when the free games bonus hits and I push the screen to determine how many games and the multiplier? And in the games like the dancing drums when the bonus involves choosing coins on the screen for mini, minor, major, grand? Or has the outcome been decided and it doesn’t matter at all which I choose

        • Hi Carol,

          When it comes to games like Dancing Drums, the progressive pick is predetermined on every version. So that’s just window dressing for an outcome already decided when that pot closes.

          For bonuses with games/multiplier, I believe in New York it’s going to give you the same result. However, if you were playing in a market with standard slots like Atlantic City or Connecticut, you would get different outcomes (as it’s controlled at that point by the RNG). So in New York, it’s my understanding that the whole bonus is predetermined and so what you’re seeing is just it playing out to that outcome, regardless of choice.

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