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Gaming with Integrity

Closely regulated and monitored, our gaming technology supervision gives Southland credence as an operator committed to lottery integrity and responsibility.

Video Lottery Operation
  • VLT’s
    • Game Parameters
    • Ticket In – Ticket Out
    • Player Tracking
    • Secure Gaming Environment
    • VLT Selection
  • Central Monitoring System
    • Fully Auditable
  • Testing & Certification
    • VLT Retailer
  • VLT Locations & Distribution
    • Rate of Distribution
  • Service

Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs)

A VLT is an easy to play gaming machine, often operated by a combination of touch screens and buttons. VLTs offer a range of familiar games upon which players can place wagers, including keno, lotto, blackjack, roulette, bingo and various forms of card games. VLTs are fully-automated and operate from customary power networks and connections, and are connected to the Central Monitoring System (CMS) through a standard telecommunications or broadband connection.

VLTs incorporate a number of measures to assure secure game play. First, the machines are durably constructed and can only be accessed by authorized, trained personnel. Second, records of game play are generated on hard meters and in electronic form stored both locally within each VLT and within the CMS. Finally, SGVI administers comprehensive training to the lottery Retailers with respect to enforcement of applicable regulations and maintenance of a secure gaming environment.

Game Parameters

Game play parameters are set within the VLT itself. The outcome of all video lottery games played on a VLT is determined by the Random Number Generator (RNG) or equivalent random determinate device contained within each VLT. The key parameters of game play determined by the Government and SGVI are the theoretical win percentage, the amount of wagers and prize payouts, and the aggregate limit on prize payouts. Records of each game played and the amount of all credits paid by players and prizes paid out from the VLT are housed both locally on the VLT and in the CMS, and can be monitored by the Government at all times.

A player inserts money into the VLT to play, and hits a cash out button when the player is finished playing. VLTs can offer one game for play or a large menu of games. At the end of play, the VLT will then print a ticket reflecting the player’s remaining cash balance and/or winnings. The ticket is honored by the video lottery Retailer who pays out to the player the cash awards reflected on the printed ticket. This process for paying player winnings assures cash in the video lottery system is always tracked by the CMS.

Ticket In – Ticket Out (TITO)

VLTs can be equipped to permit players to use their tickets to reinsert in a VLT without the requirement to cash-out a player’s winnings. This is referred to as a ticket-in/ticket-out system, and it enables players to play for a continuous period of time without the need to manage their cash during gameplay. The advantage of the TITO system is that players are able to collect cash awards at their discretion through tickets that may be used to play at different VLTs at a location over periods of time.

Player Tracking

VLTs can be further equipped to support the tracking of individual player gaming through a separate electronic card, which can provide operational insights with respect to the most successful games, locations, and opportunities for additional VLT deployment. More importantly, player tracking permits the launch of customer rewards programs that offer higher volume players benefits provided through marketing and retail partners, such as discounts on hotel stays, apparel, or dining. These benefits augment overall play by increasing customer satisfaction with the video lottery experience.

Secure Gaming Environment

VLTs incorporate a number of measures to assure secure game play. First, the machines are durably constructed, and can only be accessed by authorized, trained personnel. Second, records of game play are reflected on hard meters and in electronic form which are stored locally within each VLT and the CMS. Finally, as approved by the government, SGVI administers comprehensive training to the lottery Retailers with respect to enforcement of applicable regulations and maintenance of a secure gaming environment. Overall the games hardware and software are designed and built according to standards that have been developed over time by various regulated gaming jurisdictions and tested by third party gaming labs for durability, security, fairness, accuracy and accountability to ensure a secure gaming environment.

VLT Selection

VLTs are manufactured by several manufacturing companies that generally produce gaming equipment and gaming networks for video lottery. SGVI has extensively reviewed and tested the competing products available for deployment of video lottery platforms, and has the capability to efficiently choose, consulting with its Government customers, the best VLTs and best game software that maximizes play in a given jurisdiction.

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A video lottery terminal is an easy to play gaming machine, often operated by a combination of touch screens and buttons.

Video Lottery Terminals: Like Slots, But Not Like Slots

Some links in this article include affiliate links, which provide a commission if a purchase is made. Affiliate links have no impact on our recommendations.

So far we’ve written about three other types of gaming machines that all look and feel like slots, but only one is actually slots:

The final machine type we’ll explore is most diverse because the jurisdiction is different than the others, and that is the Video Lottery Terminal (VLT). In some states, like New York, they refer to them as Video Gaming Machines (VGMs) but we’re basically talking the same thing here.

Differing Approaches, Just Like Lotteries

The VLT gets its ability to sanction games through the state lottery, and the state lottery therefore sets many of the rules regarding the games. As such, each state approaches things a little differently. Some states allow their lotteries to authorize such gaming; others don’t. Some lotteries allow their games to run with a random number generator, like in Rhode Island, effectively making their games Class III in nature; others, like New York, don’t, having them operate therefore more like a Bingo or Historic Horse Racing machine where the outcome is determined outside the game.

As such, there is no one specific definition. But since the most common VLT is not a Class III gaming experience, we’ll focus on the type of gaming not covered, and seen in states like New York and Delaware, where the VLTs communicate with a central server and their outcomes are pulled from there.

Such systems tend to operate more like a scratch-off or a pull tabs model – just like you buy a scratch-off from a pre-determined set of cards produced and there’s a set number of winners and losers, the same goes for VLT bets. A certain number of outcomes have been set up, and each bet you “buy” an outcome that comes from the central terminal, which could be a winner or a loser. Therefore, the payback comes from the fact that since all the possible outcomes are already decided before wagers are taken, they know exactly how much money will be taken in, and paid out, in a set of wagers that will be made.

So, similar to Bingo and Historic Horse Racing, the actual spinning and stopping of the reels are for entertainment only, and the actual outcome is coming from outside the machine.

In a way you are still competing with others in the facility as they’re also playing and hoping to get the winners and not the losers. But you’re not really competing against them anymore than you are when buying scratch-offs. If they take a lot of losing combinations, though, the number of remaining spins that are winners could be higher accordingly.

One outcome is the range of payouts tend to be more advantageous in terms of the legal requirements; for instance, in Delaware, games must pay between 87 and 95% (although a facility can get permission if they want to go higher than 95%). In New York, games must pay higher than 90 percent back; this is a big deal since many places set penny slots lower than 90 percent as a general rule.

Lotteries also report their payouts, so you can see how they pay out. And indeed you can see the outcomes of these laws when you examine state-run lottery VLT states like Delaware, New York and Rhode Island in the payback data collected by sites like American Casino Guide. All of the states and the sites listed within them offer paybacks above 90 percent as a whole, and in some cases in New York approach 94 percent, which is very high.

For awhile I lived not all that far from Empire City Casino, a racing with New York Lottery VGMs that was recently acquired by MGM. I did find my money generally lasted longer there and I had more winning trips; that is usually consistent with a higher payback model if proven over the long term.

A number of changes seem to be getting implemented as part of the takeover by MGM, including a heavy watering down of the freeplay model they used to offer, which could indicate the beginning of a change in payback there, but they still have to contend with the state minimums.

Have you played VLTs or VGMs before? Do you like them? Share our feedback in the comments below!

Video Lottery Terminals: Like Slots, But Not Like Slots Some links in this article include affiliate links, which provide a commission if a purchase is made. Affiliate links have no impact on