Video Game Technologies Slots

VGT is the short version of Video Gaming Technologies, Inc.
VGT is a major player in the North American Class II casino
games market. VGT is responsible for the development,
manufacture, marketing, and distribution of casino games for
Native American casinos restricted to Class II games.

Founded in 1991, VGT now operates more than 20,000 machines
in 140 different casinos and game rooms. Most of their contracts
are with Oklahoma tribal gaming facilities, though they’re
expanding into other markets, particularly the Gulf Coast.
American gamblers who visit a lot of Native American properties
probably recognize the company’s signature Red Screen free spins
feature, a highly-visible effect common to all their latest
titles.

VGT started producing Class II games as soon as the Native
American market opened up in the early 90s. They’re a trusted
name in the industry, an American end-to-end game producer with
specialists working in fields from game design and R&D to
customer support and corporate marketing.

Since the acquisition of VGT by Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. In
October of 2014, the company’s profile has increased
considerably. Aristocrat is one of the biggest names in global
gambling, a premium supplier of gaming tech and services to
casinos and other gambling properties all over the world.
Becoming part of Aristocrat means that VGT’s games may soon
start appearing in land-based and online casinos all over the
world in the next few years.

According to promotional material on their website, they’ve
doubled in size eight times since 2001. They’re the number-one
gaming machine provider in Oklahoma, a massive gambling market
that relies heavily on Class II games. VGT is also the #1
overall provider of Class II machines in the United States, and
the largest privately-owned gaming machine manufacturer in the
country.

What Are Class II Games?

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act that created a market for
VGT’s services also established a three-tiered class system to
identify and regulate different types of gambling games. This
Class system doesn’t apply outside of Native American gaming
laws.

Of the three original classes created by legislation in the
1990s, only Class II and Class III are relevant to today’s
world. That’s because Class I only applies to wagers on
inter-tribal contests. These contests are pretty much ignored by
federal authorities today, and all emphasis is placed on Class
II and III titles.

Class III gaming is what most tribes want to offer – this is
traditional gambling like you’d find in the commercial casinos
of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Class III includes table games
like blackjack and craps, as well as allowances for slot and
video poker machines. But US law stipulates that all tribal
groups have to negotiate private contracts with their state
government in order to offer III gaming.

Without this expensive and difficult contract, tribal groups
are limited to Class II gaming by default. So what’s the
difference? These days, the difference is mostly about
semantics. Class II games have to produce outcomes based on a
bingo-style drawing, rather than the random number generator
used by Class III games.

Modern game designers have created loophole software that
produces a random number generator-style result while still
utilizing a bingo-style drawing system to satisfy their Class II
restrictions. In fact, that’s most of the genius behind the guys
at VGT. They know how to produce games similar to the slots and
video poker machines their customers want while still staying
within the lines of the strict Tribal Class system.

You may have played a Class II game and not even realized it.
By law, all Class II games have to be marked with a symbol that
looks like a bingo card. But because these games now look and
act like traditional gambling machines, unless you knew you were
in a Class II facility ahead of time, you wouldn’t notice any
real difference as a player. VGT succeeds when they produce a
slot machine that perfectly mimics a Class III slot game.

VGT Management

Jamie Odell

Jamie Odell is the head of VGT’s parent company. That makes him also the
ultimate executive in charge of the operations at Virtual Gaming
Technology. Odell has been with Aristocrat since 2009, having
cut his teeth as a managing director (and eventually COO) at
Foster’s. Odell is often credited with single-handedly righting
the ship at Aristocrat – the company is enjoying a renaissance
that began pretty soon after he stepped in the door. VGT’s
parent company’s share price is up 105% since he began his
tenure. The acquisition of interests like VGT (which some
conglomerates may see as too much of a niche producer) is a
direct result of Odell’s leadership.

Jon P. Yarbrough

There’s a great story about
Jon Yarbrough. Supposedly, his first business venture was
splitting profits of a foosball table in a neighborhood bar.
He’s come a long way since then – Yarbrough sold VGT to
Aristocrat for a reported $1.2 billion a few years ago. Though
Yarbrough no longer does the dirty work of designing and
manufacturing games, he has decades of experience in a difficult
industry. At VGT, he serves as part-advisor, part-executive,
part-mascot.

Jay Sevigny

Mr. Sevigny was hand-picked by
Aristocrat CEO Jamie Odell to take over the operation of VGT in
2015. Sevigny’s gaming experience comes from decades working for
big names like Boyd Gaming and Harrah’s Entertainment. He’d been
a member of VGT’s management team in various senior roles since
2006.

VGT Slot Machines

Video Gaming Technologies currently produces 97 slot-style
Class II games. The company also produces a set of eight bonus
games that be added to all of their other games by their
operators, for a grand total of 105 slot-style titles. They
break these games up into five categories:

  1. 3-reel Mechanical Slots
  2. These games are designed to look and
    act like classic-style slot machines. Most of the company’s slot
    machine-style Class II games fall under this category.

  3. 5-reel Mechanical Slots
  4. These games are slightly more complex
    than the company’s 3-reel titles, with additional features
    designed to make the games even more slot-like.

  5. Video Slots
  6. Games in this category are VGT’s attempt to
    replicate the look and feel of the latest Vegas-style video slot
    machines.

  7. Progressive Slots
  8. VGT produces a limited number of local and
    wide-area progressive titles.

  9. Red Spin Gambler Slots
  10. These games are VGT’s latest iteration
    of updated slot-style Class II games.

VGT Slot Game Reviews

Below you’ll find short reviews of twenty-five of VGT’s most
popular Class II slot games. We’ve chosen to cover only their
most-popular and most-available titles, because these are the
games you’re most likely to find when you walk into a tribal
facility powered by VGT technology. For more information on all
of VGT’s titles, point your browser to
their official website, where
they have a short page and description of all their games, slots
or otherwise.

3-Reel Mechanical Slots

Mr. Money Bags

Mr. Money Bags is VGT’s best-known and most popular title.
The “theme” of the game, if there is one, is that the character
Mr. Money Bags is giving away his riches. You can stake your
part of his treasure by lining up symbols on the reels. Mr.
Money Bags accepts wagers of one, two, or three coins. The
company makes the game available in a wide range of
denominations: you’ll find Mr. Money Bags as a $0.25, $0.50,
$1.00, $2.00, $3.00, $5.00, $10.00, or even $25.00 game. With a
top prize of 2,500 credits, it’s about average in terms of VGT’s
returns. The game includes the company’s Red Screen Free-Spin
feature, in which the player can earn up to five free spins.
This feature is triggered randomly with winning spins. According
to VGT’s website, it’s triggered about once every five winning
spins.

Lucky Ducky

If Mr. Money Bags is VGT’s top brand, Lucky Ducky
is a close second. The game doesn’t have much of a plot – the
theme is the Lucky Ducky himself, a rubber ducky character that
VGT makes good use of on several other Class II titles. The main
reason for Lucky Ducky’s appeal is its use of VGT’s most
valuable 3-reel pay table setup, one with a top prize of 10,000
credits. Since Lucky Ducky accepts wagers between $0.25 and $5
per credit, the range of the machine’s top prize is from $2,500
to $50,000. This is among the best top prizes of any three reel
slot setup we’ve ever seen, including Class III games in a
Vegas-style casino.

Crazy Billions

Every game on this short list of VGT’s 3-reel
mechanical Class II games has a gimmick. We did that by design.
You’ll find each of these game’s gimmicks in use on other VGT
titles. We chose Crazy Billions to represent VGT’s titles that
offer multipliers on every reel. This game also uses the
company’s Add-A-Reel feature, which is nothing more than a
unique payout system. Lining up any three symbols on an active
line, and their value could result in a payout. About those
multipliers – they offer 2x, 4x, and 8x your wager on winning
spins. Credits range from $0.25 to $25 each. The game’s top
prize is 3,200 credits, a little above average for this company.

King of Coin

King of Coin is an example of VGT’s simpler
three reel titles. There’s no plot, but the game includes VGT’s
top three-line pay table that rewards a jackpot of up to 10,000
credits. Those credits can be set to multiple values: $0.25,
$0.50, $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, and $25 each. Players can wager
between one and three credits per line. King of Coin includes
the Red Screen Free Spins feature, but offers nothing in the way
of multipliers or other features you may find on some of the
company’s newer releases.

Loose Lizards

Loose Lizards features a pair of animated
lizards along with some other special effects that separate this
title from the herd of three-reel VGT slot games. This game’s
pay table is better than most VGT games, offering a top prize of
7,500 credits. Of course, the Red Screen Free Spin feature is
available, and this title offers multipliers, though only on one
reel. Players can choose their credit size, which ranges from
$0.25 up to $10 per credit. Loose Lizards features a simple
bonus game, called the Bug Money Bonus. When triggered, which is
about once per eight winning spins, the player simply chooses a
bug and a prize amount is revealed.

Reel Fever

Reel Fever uses the same pay table and many of the
same in-game features as Lucky Ducky. That means the big top
prize of 10,000 credits is available on Reel Fever for a
three-coin wager of between $0.75 and $15. Reel Fever is a
fishing-themed slot game, though there’s no themed bonus round
or special video clips or anything. The Red Screen Free Spin
feature is available on Reel Fever. This is one of VGT’s older
titles, but it’s really popular, in part because their main
audience really loves fishing. Don’t laugh – this is part of
VGT’s genius. They know their audience so well, they can produce
an average slot, slap a fish logo on the front, and offer a
decent pay table and be successful. More power to them.

5-Reel Mechanical Slots

Free Spins of Fortune

Free Spins of Fortune is a typical five-reel VGT slot. The
game offers nine lines, and accepts bets of up to twenty credits
per line, for a total max wager of 180 credits. Available
denominations for wagers are $0.01, $0.02, or $0.05, which means
the max bet is $9 per spin. The game offers a top prize of
392,000 credits, or $19,600 at the max bet and max credit size.
That top prize comes from lining up five of the game’s scatter
symbols, which are the game logo. Spinning three or four such
logos results in a win multiplier of 7x and 49x, respectively.
The game is one of VGT’s older five-reel titles, and it doesn’t
have much in the way of plot or effects.

Gemstone Falls

We included this review of Gemstone Falls to show what we
think is a pretty serious flaw on the part of Virtual Gaming
Technologies. Their five-reel mechanical slots are all pretty
much the same game. The same could be said of their three-reel
designs, but many of them include a gimmick that sets them apart
from one another. In the case of Gemstone Falls, Free Spins of
Fortune, and a few of the other games in the company’s five-reel
library, the games lack distinguishing gimmicks. The result is a
slew of boring five-reel games without much replay value. This
is one tone deaf section in a library that (in many other ways)
nails it in terms of variety and replay value. For notes on any
aspect of Gemstone Falls, just read the Free Spins of Fortune
review. All the details are the same – it’s just the symbols and
other accoutrements of the game that are different.

Land of the Free Spins

Land of the Free Spins is
(unfortunately) almost more of the same. It has a single
distinguishing feature that makes it stand out from a crowd of
really tone-dear five-reel Class II games produced by VGT.
Basically, you take Free Spins of Fortune, slap a few patriotic
symbols and stickers on the case and the screen, add a unique
bonus round, and you have Land of the Free Spins. The bonus game
that makes this game different enough from the other five-reel
titles is pretty simple. Lining up three of the game’s flag
symbols triggers the game, in which you select one of five flags
to raise, revealing a random prize amount in the form of
credits. This symbol could be adapted into a scatter symbol,
adding another element to this pretty standard title, but VGT
didn’t go that far. Everything else about this title is
identical to the two described above, down to the top prize and
wagering options.

Mr. Money Bags Free Spinnin’

This is a slight variant on
VGT’s popular Mr. Money Bags title. The credit and wagering
options are identical to the other five-reel titles described
here. The only differences between this title and the original
Mr. Money Bags are slightly-improved graphics and the addition
of the company’s standard Free Spins feature.

Polar High Roller Free Spinnin’

Similarly, this title ports
the company’s popular Polar High Roller title, adds a Red Screen
Free Spins feature, and then follows the company’s standard
outline for five-reel titles. Designed for fans of the original
looking for a little more replay value, Polar High Roller Free
Spinnin’ was the original inspiration for the entire Red Screen
Free Spins reboot series that VGT is still churning out.

Pirate’s Paradise

If you take all the games above, strip away
their gimmicks, features, and other options, and then add a cool
set of pirate-themed bonus games and a unique multiplier system,
you’d have Pirate’s Paradise. All the financial details are
identical to the games described above – it’s a typical five
reel title from VGT in every way except the multipliers and the
three unique bonus title. Each bonus game involved doing some
dastardly deed – stealing treasure, raiding a port, and fighting
in a duel – in exchange for rewards of coins or free spins. The
multiplier system is based on two sets of scatter symbols, one
in the image of a pirate, the other in the image of a parrot.
The pirate scatter symbols reward a 7x multiplier, while the
parrot symbol rewards a 49x multiplier. It’s one of the
better-reviewed five reel games put out by this company, and
it’s easy to see why. It’s the game with the most replay value
of all of them, and the one that has the most visual appeal.
Players love bonuses. Maybe VGT should have included more games
like this in their five-reel library?

Progressive Slots

Easy Money Jackpot

The first of Virtual Gaming’s popular progressive slot
series, Easy Money Jackpot is one of the more entertaining
progressive concepts we’ve come across, Class II status
notwithstanding. It’s actually eight games in one, all classic
titles from their three-reel classic slot series:

  • 777 Bourbon Street
  • Crazy Cherry
  • Hot Red Ruby
  • King of Coin
  • Lucky Ducky
  • Mr. Money Bags
  • Reel Fever
  • Smooth as Silk

While you play these titles, a tiny percentage of each of
your wagers is paid into a large progressive network, the
largest that Virtual Gaming runs. The progressive prize is
totally random, triggered by any max three-coin wager. Since
each game only accepts $1 per credit wagers, this tends to be a
game for medium-to-high budget players. But thanks to the single
pay line and simple rules of each game, overall winnings are
more common than on the more complex five-reel titles available
by the same company. This game’s top progressive payout all-time
is just over a million dollars – impressive for a jackpot that’s
only active in a single state.

Mr. Money Bags Vault

This is a local-area progressive slot with a four-tiered top
jackpot system. Because this is a local progressive, the top
prizes tend to hover in the area of $250,000. This progressive
features two classic Mr. Money Bags variants, which the player
can choose at the beginning of a session, or end at any time and
switch to the other game. This is VGT’s only progressive title
that accepts credits of varying sizes – players can choose coin
sizes of either $0.25, $0.50, or $1 per credit. The top tier
progressive resets to $6,000 and moves up from there. That’s a
pretty high reset value for a small-scale progressive game.
Don’t expect much variation in the game play – if you’ve played
any of VGT’s Mr. Money Bags titles, you’ve played both of the
games in this cabinet, The only real innovation here is the
multi-tier progressive prize.

Hot Red Ruby Progressive

Hot Red Ruby is another local-area progressive, but this one
has even fewer unique features than the recycled Mr. Money Bags
Vault game reviewed above. The Hot Red Ruby game that’s set up
here to act as a progressive slot is identical to the Red Spin
Gambler game described below. It literally looks like the same
game with a progressive jackpot featured added on the top.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun – it is. Between free spins,
multipliers, bonus rounds, and the tempting multi-tiered
progressive top prize that resets to a value of $6,000, it’s an
addictive little progressive slot-style Class II game that might
convince slot fans they’re on a Vegas casino floor. It’s just a
bit repetitive if you’ve already spent some time playing any of
the Red Spin series, reviewed in the section below.

Polar High Roller Progressive

Kudos to VGT for producing the Polar High Roller Progressive
slot, which actually adds some new features to an older title
besides the addition of a progressive top prize. This game
accepts $1 wagers only, and acts much like the Mr. Money Bags
Vault game described above, in that you can choose from two
classic Polar High Roller titles. The cool thing is, each of
these progressive games has a new bonus round and the new Red
Screen Free Spin feature to add to its replay value.

Red Spin Gambler Slots

Mr. Money Bags Deluxe

This is a video slot version
of Virtual Gaming’s most popular slot-style title, Mr. Money
Bags. You can probably tell from the name that this game
includes Virtual Gaming’s Red Spin Free Spins feature, which
rewards a random number of free spins (between one and five) on
about every fifth winning spin. This game’s gimmick is wild
symbols. The familiar Mr. Money Bags logo pays out 2X your
winning wager, or 3x during Red Screen Free Spins features. The
game’s scatter-like system is based on the popular cherry
symbols, two of which wilds pay 9X your winning combination.
Three of those scatter symbols lead to the game’s top prize.
This is a five-line game that allows wagers of up to five
credits per line, for a max bet of twenty-five credits. Those
credits can be worth $0.25, $0.50, $1, $2, $5, or $10. The top
prize is 25,000 credits, for a jackpot of between $6,250 and
$250,000. That’s a huge top prize for a Class II game.

Polar High Roller Multipliers

The Polar High Roller
in the game’s title is a hip polar bear character who spends his
time spinning records and dancing behind a turntable. Okay, so
it’s a weird theme for a five reel video slot, but at least it’s
unique. This is a special video bonus version of the company’s
classic Polar High Roller five-reel game. The game’s top prize
is 50,000 credits, higher than the average video slot from
Virtual Gaming. Since credits go up to $10 apiece, that’s a top
prize of $500,000, one of the company’s largest non-progressive
prizes. During the bonus game, a multiplier is added to each of
up to five free spins, starting at 1x and moving up to 5x. This
bonus game also rewards more free spins, and all the game’s
features can be retriggered.

Ruby’s Red Spin Wilds

Ruby’s Red Spin Wilds includes the Red
Screen Free Spins game that VGT is adding to just about all
their new titles – but that’s not this game’s gimmick. Ruby’s
Red is the company’s first title to use both traditional stacked
and special nudging stacked wild symbols. This allows multiple
stacked wild symbols to form into a block of wild symbols,
rewarding large prizes more often than traditional wild setups
on VGT titles. Ruby’s Red follows VGT’s standard credit size and
payout system, accepting wagers between $0.10 and $10, accepting
bets on up to twenty lines for a maximum wager of 100 credits
per spin. The theme of the game is pretty difficult to pin down
– VGT doesn’t always obsess about cool immersive themes.
Instead, they hope the nudging wild system and more-frequent
bonus wins and multipliers will keep players coming back.

Video Slots

Cats In Action

Cats In Action is a popular video slot
featuring the character Special Agent Felina. The game follows
her attempts to capture a criminal known as Ratsy Rizzo. The
game offers two special features – a free spins round, a bonus
round called Wild Reels, and a random multiplier system that
pops up on all five reels. The Free Spins game is basic – click
an image and you win a set number of spins, between one and
five. The bonus round sees Felina and Ratsy randomly swatting at
the reels, turning symbols wild and forming additional winning
combinations. All the features in the game can be retriggered.
Cats in Action is an attractive game that wouldn’t be out of
place in a bank of video slots in a traditional Class III
casino.

Cameloot

Cameloot is based on the imagery and myth of
Camelot. Cameloot’s main gimmick is its three bonus rounds:
Juggles the Jester, The Wizard’s Wheel, and Newton the Nudger.
Each game is unique – in one, you try to grab a ball from a
juggler, which randomly rewards you a number of credits. In
another, the magician Merlin appears to spin a magic wheel and
reward a random multiplier and number of free spins. In the
final bonus game, a weird-looking goblin creature will pop up
and turn any losing spin into a decent-sized winner. The top
prize is a majestic 25,000 credits, a little above average for
this company’s video slot games. Available credit sizes are one
cent, five cents, and twenty-five cents, and players can wager
up to five credits on nine lines. That gives you a total wager
range of between one and forty-five coins, or $0.01 to $11.45
wagered per spin. That’s a very affordable range for a game that
rewards as much as $6,250.

Charmed Destiny

One of VGT’s newer slot offerings, Charmed
Destiny tells the story of a young magician in training. It’s a
pretty clear nod to Harry Potter fandom, which may be another
smart move on the part of VGT, with new material from the Harry
Potter universe set to hit the big screen. There’s a cool
Wizarding bonus game that involves a slight skill element,
testing your ability to hit a virtual target. This game rewards
both free spins and a multiplier for the triggering win. Charmed
Destiny is a bit of a letdown in terms of its pay structure –
this nine line game allows up to forty-five credits per wager,
but thanks to a limited wager range ($1 and up, all the way to
$25), it’s not really a fit for budget-minded gamblers. The top
prize of 25,000 credits is a big part of its appeal, but the
cost per spin might prohibit some VGT fans from giving it a
spin.

Frankenstein

At thirty lines and a max bet of ten credits per
line, Frankenstein is not one of VGT’s more affordable titles.
In order to gain access to the game’s 30,000 credit top prize,
you have to wager 300 credits per spin. Even at one, two, or
five cents per credit, you’re looking at a bankroll-draining
$3-per-spin, for a top prize not that much higher than other
more affordable Virtual Gaming video slots. Why did they set the
cost so high? Frankenstein is part of their new XSpin system, an
updated bingo-style decision engine that is faster, allowing for
improved graphics and higher replay value. In other words, this
one’s state of the art, and it has a lot of player appeal, with
some of the best-looking graphics and spookiest audio effects
we’ve heard outside a Vegas gambling floor. Frankenstein
features expanding wilds, random wilds, a system similar to
traditional slot scatter symbols, and a win multiplier that’s
randomly triggered and increases your pay out by up to 5x.

Jewels and Gems

A first for Virtual Gaming that they’re sure
to repeat, Jewels and Gems is actually ten mini-games in a
single case. This style of game is designed for smaller
properties that want to cram a lot of variety in a smaller floor
size. This Class II multi-game terminal is just starting to
become popular at Virtual Gaming’s major Oklahoma tribal spots.
Included is everything from a single-line classic slot to a
Keno-style contest, and traditional eight-liner simulation
games. All games include the company’s Red Screen Free-Spin
feature, and most casinos have added Bonus Blast features, to
give the games even more of a video game feel. Virtual Gaming is
at their best when they’re trying to hook players for replay
value, and Jewels and Gems is the first in a long line of
planned multi-game releases. Some commenters suggested that the
Jewels and Gems system is what Aristocrat was going after when
they made their billion dollar bid for VGT. We can’t confirm
that, but it makes for good copy.

Lizards on the Loose

Based on the company’s popular Loose
Lizards single-line slot, Lizards on the Loose is like that
simple game’s cooler older brother. Like Frankenstein described
above, Lizards on the Loose requires a lot of credits for a max
bet, thanks to its forty lines and ten credits per line setup. A
max bet of 400 coins is high, even when the game is only set up
to accept one, two, or five-penny wagers. There’s a payoff,
though – a literal one. The game’s top prize is worth 50,000
credits, the highest of all of Virtual Gaming’s video slots.

VGT Slots: A Summary

Class II tribal gaming isn’t the world’s sexiest topic.
Researching and discussing the merits of an electronic bingo
game designer that mainly services a single state’s gaming
industry isn’t exactly a cherry assignment. Then again, when
that little Class II designer from Oklahoma attracts the
interest of a major multinational company like Aristocrat, it
makes you sit up and take notice.

What is VGT doing that makes it so attractive to an industry
leader? Besides all the design, customer service, and innovation
accolades they’ve racked up since entering the Oklahoma tribal
market in 2001, they’re doing one thing that will always make a
company successful. They understand their audience.

Yes, game manufacturers have to work within existing federal
and state regulations. Yes, small markets like Oklahoma or the
other tribal gaming areas of the United States struggle to
compete with Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and the Internet. VGT
does both of those things, AND they produce games that their
customers are interested in playing over and over again.

To us, it looks like Aristocrat saw a talented design firm
following a similar trajectory that they followed, and were
interested in adding that level of innovation and customer
understanding to their own skill set. Clearly, there was no
threat to Aristocrat’s holdings, since VGT works mainly with
Native American groups in the American Midwest and South. No,
Aristocrat is looking to improve the replay value of their
titles – and perhaps to enter new restricted markets in
Australia and parts of Asia. Though VGT continues to operate as
an independent entity, we expect Aristocrat to begin releasing
titles influence by Virtual Gaming Technology over the next few
years.