Class II vs. Class III Slot Machines – What Are the Main Differences?

Row of Slot Machines Class 2 Vs. Class 3

A slot machine looks like a slot machine at first glance. However, various types of slots exist throughout the gaming industry.

The best-known example is a Class III slot machine. These slots are the ones found in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and most other jurisdictions.

Class II slot machines, on the other hand, aren’t quite as famous. Nevertheless, they’re available in many tribal casinos.

Depending upon where you live, you might come across either Class II or Class III games. In this case, you’ll likely want to know the differences between the two. The following post explains more on how each type of machine works and how they differ from each other.

What Is a Class II Slot Machine?

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 gives tribes the chance to negotiate casino compacts with their respective states. Most of these negotiations result in tribes being able to offer Class II gaming.

Class II refers to bingo, poker, pull tabs, and punchboards. Of course, these games aren’t exactly big money-makers for casinos. Slot machines are kings when it comes to revenue.

Given the limitations of Class II gaming, tribal casinos can’t just roll out regular slot machines. They instead must get inventive to stay competitive with commercial casinos.

Developers have helped tribal establishments get around these limitations. They produce slot machines that operate through bingo-style results.

A central server runs bingo games somewhere on the casino property. These games are decided so rapidly that they mimic fast-paced slots results.

Tribes can legally offer these machines because the results are produced through bingo. However, most gamblers can’t tell the difference between one of these slots and those found in commercial casinos.

What Is a Class III Slot Machine?

A Class III machine is essentially the type that everybody envisions when it comes to slots. It uses a random number generator (RNG) to produce randomized outcomes.

An RNG is a program that’s constantly running different number combinations. The program then selects one of these combinations to determine a result.

Row of Slot Machines

Given that an RNG operates so quickly, you’d find it impossible to “time up” a slot spin. Every spin that you make will be totally random.

State gaming regulators check RNGs to ensure that they’re working properly. They also ensure that payouts and their respective odds are as stated by the developer.

Key Differences Between Class II and Class III Slots

You’ve probably spotted some differences between Class II and Class III gaming already. However, the following points more thoroughly illustrate the differences between these slots.

The information in this section is important because if you don’t understand why the classes are different you’re likely to lose more money. Take your time and read this section as many times as you need to make sure that you have a complete understanding of the differences.

Class III Machines Use an RNG

You can’t see the RNG at work when playing a slot machine. Regardless, you can guarantee that it’s working within any slot found at a commercial casino.

The goal for slot software developers and their associated casinos is to deliver random results. After all, slots are supposed to be completely luck-based games.

Casinos wouldn’t be in business very long if everybody figured out a way to beat slot machines. That said, their developers ensure that these games never work in a predictable pattern.

For your part, you can take comfort in knowing that casinos don’t manipulate the results. The RNG randomizes everything to the point where no two spins are alike. Additionally, state regulators check RNGs to make sure that they work properly.

Class II Slots Rely on Bingo Results

A Class II slot machine substitutes bingo for the RNG. A central server runs bingo games that produce slots results in a roundabout way.

Of course, you and players never have to worry about this bingo action happening in the background. It takes place so quickly that you’ll rarely ever experience a slow moment while playing.

Instead, you’ll spin the reels and quickly find out if you’ve won or lost. Assuming the bingo server is working quickly enough, you can enjoy spin after spin with no time wasted.

Class III Slot Machines Are Found in Commercial Casinos

Location is another key area where Class II and Class III slot machines. The Class III variety is usually only found in commercial casinos.

A commercial casino is one that’s fully licensed by the respective state government. It’s also usually owned by a large corporation (MGM Resorts).

MGM Grand Las Vegas

These gambling establishments are widely available in major gaming destinations like Atlantic City, Biloxi, Las Vegas, and Reno. They’re also found in plenty of states, such as Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Class II Games Are Typically in Tribal Casinos

As discussed before, tribes have the right to fair negotiations for casino gaming. These discussions don’t always lead to legal casinos, but they at least open up the possibility.

Plenty of states have successfully negotiated compacts with their local tribes. The result is a wide variety of tribal casinos across the US.

Most of these casinos aren’t allowed to offer Class III slot machines. That said, they tab developers to produce Class II games for them instead.

Class II slots may not work exactly like those found in commercial venues. Nevertheless, they look and play just like a regular slot machine.

Class III Slots Offer the Industry’s Biggest Jackpots

If you want to win life-changing money through slots, then you should definitely visit commercial casinos. After all, these establishments largely feature of the biggest jackpots.

You’ll especially find life-changing prizes through the Class III machines in Las Vegas. The Megabucks jackpot here can feature prizes worth eight figures!

Even if you don’t play for a massive eight-figure jackpot in Vegas, you can still find multimillion-dollar prizes on other Class III machines throughout the industry.

Class II slots can also feature huge payouts. However, they don’t match Class III games for the absolute largest jackpots.

Class II Slot Machines Display Bingo Cards Onscreen

You may not be able to tell the difference between a Class II and regular slot machine based on the way they play. However, you’ll definitely be able to tell when a Class II slot displays a bingo card.

Some of these games show the bingo action that’s taking place in the background. You’ll see a small card at the top of the screen along with balls quickly appearing.

This display is to show you what’s happening with the server. You’ll probably have no idea what’s actually going on at first glance. If you play these games long enough, though, you may get a feel for whether you’ve won and lost based on the cards.

Which Type of Slot Machine Is Better?

Assuming you get to try both Class II and Class III slot machines, you may develop a preference for one type.

I can’t predict with 100% accuracy which style of slot you’ll like. However, I’m going to guess that you would lean towards Class III machines.

Column of Casino Slots

They operate through a normal RNG process and run smoothly. Furthermore, they collectively feature the biggest jackpots and most-popular themes.

However, none of this is to say that Class II games are chopped liver. They can also feature large payouts and entertaining themes.

In the end, your preference could simply come down to what type of slot you win more with. Assuming you earn a windfall on one class of machine or the other, then you’re most likely fall in love with it.


You don’t necessarily have to know the differences between Class II and Class III slot machines before enjoying them. After all, they both feature the same playing process.

However, you might have some questions about how they differ. The most notable difference is in how results are decided. A Class II slot uses bingo games, while a Class III machine relies on an RNG.

Additionally, Class II slot machines are normally housed in tribal casinos. The Class III variety, meanwhile, is commonly associated with commercial establishments.

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