Video Lottery Terminals or ‘VLT’s’ are increasingly common in some states with lottery operations. As the name suggests, they are video gaming machines run by the state lottery. Lotteries that offer these games include versions of slot machines, video poker, video keno, etc. These games may look the same from state to state but many operate differently.

In fact, it’s impossible to generalize how ‘VLT’s’ operate. In Oregon and South Dakota, the VLTs found in bars and similar locations are ‘Las Vegas-style‘ Class III machines operating from a random number generator (RNG) within the device itself. In other states, the games are random but get their results from a central processing center.

The randomization takes place at this central location and allows the lottery to monitor in real time win rates and jackpot distribution. Still, other lotteries have VLT’s that are more like video versions of scratch cards or video ‘pull tab‘ machines. With these machines every hand/spin/deal or whatever is ‘predetermined‘. It doesn’t matter how much these devices *look* like slot or video poker machines–the player has no control over the outcome in the same way that he has no control over a scratch-off ticket. He just initiates the process to reveal the ‘outcome‘.

The problem is that states don’t go out of their way to reveal how their video lottery devices work ‘under the hood‘ which means the players are unable to know exactly how the outcomes are determined. In theory, it may not matter–winning percentages are often similar from one type to another and the ultimate outcome is ‘you pay your money, you take your chance‘. Some gamblers, however, object to the lack of transparency and suggest that the player has a right to know if a game is completely random and if so how that ‘randomness’ is derived.