How on earth can a pinball machine compete against a video slot machine as a gambling device?
Well, in reality, a gambling pinball machine can’t compete directly against a video slot machine, but it can come close enough to make it a serious contendor as a valid casino gaming device. Let’s look at the numbers. The typical slot machine pay out 90% back to player. It costs 40 cents (min bet) per spin when playing all lines. A player playing at a steady pace will make 6 bets per minute. All of this factors out to making $14.40 per hour.
The gambling pinball machine would be a game that has a much higher degree of chance than a modern pinball game. A ratio of 25% skill and 75% chance would be needed to keep skill as a major factor away when trying to appeal to the average casino player. Think of a 1950s Gottlieb game that has a lot of chaos, keeping the ball out of the players control and holes (both trap holes and gobble holes) being a major feature because even the most skilled players can’t consistently shoot at them.
The good part is the many jurisdictions require gaming devices to pay out at a minimum of 85%, so our gambling pinball machine would need to pay out at that as a minimum. Much shorter game time would be required (compared to a modern pinball machine), but similar to game times of wood rail games (20 seconds per ball at three balls per play), being 60 seconds. Now for the earnings capability. The cost would be one dollar per play. At 60 seconds per play (average), the game would gross $60 per hour, and paying back $51 equals $9.00 per hour. Not the $14.40, but many casinos like to have a variety of gaming choices for their customers.
Example Gambling Pinball Machine:
At first glance, this game looks just like a regular flipper pinball machine, but upon closer examination, 3 gobble holes are seen on the playfield and the flipper return lanes are missing at the bottom. The three holes have three lamps each (1 advance, 3 advances, and 5 advances) and a fourth lamp (Double Lit Advances). The Pops and Slingshots rotate the three award lamps and the “Double” lamp lights once every 5 pop hits. All balls that drain in a gobble hole score the lit advances.
All good pinball players know that it is very difficult to shoot at a hole that doesnt have a deflector or scoop behind it. Slow moving balls are the ones that find their way into these holes. So we can make the replays won fairly significant for this feature. Obviously, completing 30 advances (1:3375) can give a big award such as a progressive jackpot. These game would have the typical slot machine buttons such as bet multiplier and cash out.
There would be an element of skill that would give experienced pinball players a slight edge, but for the most part, the “Big Awards” would be generated from “Chance”. Now the part that purist pinball players won’t like. The games should be offered in both a mechanical game version and as a video pinball version. Modern pinball simulators have gotten good enough to use for this purpose. Slot Machines are available in both video and reel versions and so should our gambling pinball machine.