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Not all slot machines are designed for mass appeal. Niche games targeted at a specific audience have their place, too.
In the last several years, one game that has earned its niche is Roulette from Bally. This isn't one of the big multi-station systems such as Shuffle Master's Rapid Roulette. It's a single-player game on a 32-inch vertical screen.
Single-player Roulette has been a single-zero game, but now Bally has come out with a double-zero game. Each number has a 1 in 37 chance of turning up on any given spin on the single-zero version, and it's 1 in 38 in the double-zero game.
If payoffs were the same in Roulette as table roulette, there would be a house edge of 2.7 percent on the single-zero game, and 5.26 percent on the double-zero version. That's the same as saying a payback of 97.3 percent with one zero and 94.74 percent with two.
Dollar slots often have paybacks higher than 94.74 percent, and some high-denomination slots even reach or exceed that single-zero 97.3 percent. Bally does offer Roulette for denominations up to $100.
But the game also is offered in denominations as low as a penny, and casinos like their penny games returning in the mid-to-high 80 percents. A game with the same odds as table roulette would never get a chance on casino floors as a penny slot --- or as 2-cent or nickel games.
Some versions of Roulette return 36-for-1 on a winning single-number bet. On a one-credit bet, the wager is immediately deducted from your credits on the screen. If you win, 36 credits are added onto your credit meter. At a table, we'd say 35-to-1. Your one-credit bet would stay on the table, and if you won, you'd get to keep the bet in addition to 35 credits in winnings. Either way, you have your original credit plus 35 more.
To make Roulette work on a low-denomination slot format, some machines have lower payoffs. A reader who wrote to ask about the effect of using two zeroes on the machines reported seeing a 32-for-1 return on a penny game.
At 32-for-1, the house edge on a single-number bet on a single-zero game is 13.5 percent, for a payback of 86.5 percent. With a double-zero virtual wheel, that house edge rises to 15.8 percent, or a 84.2 percent return. If the return rises to 33-for-1, paybacks go up to 89.2 percent with one zero, or 86.8 percent with two. At 34-for-1, it's 91.9 percent with one zero, 89.5 percent with two, and to round off the possible payoffs of less than roulette standards, at 35-for-1 it's 94.6 percent with one zero and 92.1 percent with two.
Here's the short version of how to calculate it. On a single-zero game, there are 37 possible outcomes. For the game to pay players 100 percent, machine payoffs would have to be 37-for-1. If it pays only 32-for-1, that's a shortfall of five units on the payback. Divide that five-unit shortfall by the 37 possibilities, then multiply by 100 to convert to percent, and you have a house edge of 13.5 percent.
The payback percentage is just the opposite way of looking at the house edge. In the 100 percent total, the house keeps 13.5 percent, and the players get back the remaining 86.5 percent.
With a double-zero game, there are 38 possible outcomes, and a 100 percent game would pay 38-for-1, or 37-to-1. Divide the number of coins the payoff is short by 38 instead of by 37, then multiply by 100 to get the house edge in percent. In the case of a 32-for-1 payoff, it's a six-unit shortfall, so we divide 6 by 38, which multiplied by 100 gives us a 15.8 percent house edge.
Want the long explanation? Suppose we have a single-zero wheel and we bet $1 on number 17 on each of 37 spins in which each number turns up once. We risk a total of $37. On our one winner, the machine has already taken our $1 bet before the spin, but it gives us back $32 when our number comes up.
So what we have left at the end of those 37 electronic spins is $32. The house has kept $5 of our $37. From there, you can follow the same procedure described above --- divide our $5 in losses by $37 risked, then multiply by 100 and you see the house has kept 13.5 percent of our wagers. That's the house edge. Subtract that from 100 percent, and that gives us an 86.5 percent payback.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.