Slot machines come in many different formats. Some feature one reel, some have 10 reels, and some offer hundreds of thousands of ways to win.
Rarely, though, is a slot machine named after its number of pay lines. For example, you don’t call a 10-pay line slot a 10 Liner.
Eight Liners, however, are an exception to the norm. These slot machines are exclusive to Texas and very popular there. You can learn more about Eight Liners below along with why they are so controversial in the Lone Star State.
Basic Slots with 8 Paylines
Despite the unique name, an Eight Liner isn’t anything new in the gaming industry. In fact, it’s much closer to a classic slot (3 reels, 1 pay line) than the more complex games that are made today.
These machines normally feature a 3-reel, 8-payline setup. The three reels and eight lines are spread across a 3×3 grid.
You play these games like any other slot by selecting your stake and pushing the spin button. The reels will then spin and determine if you win or lose.
Eight Liners Are Really Popular in Texas
As mentioned in the intro, Eight Liners are found throughout Texas. The Lone Star State doesn’t offer any legal forms of casino gaming.
Therefore, traditional slot machines aren’t available in Texas. The only exception is a cruise ship called the Arkansas Queen. However, the Arkansas Queen only lets people play slot machines when it’s sailing in international water.
Eight Liner machines essentially fill the void for gamblers. These games are available in different types of businesses.
They’re especially prominent in parlors that specialize in Eight Liners (a.k.a. game rooms). You may walk into one of these game rooms and not be able to distinguish it from a normal casino.
Eight Line Slots Take Advantage of Fuzzy Animals Law
In 1995, Texas realized that its laws didn’t do a great job of distinguishing between illegal slot machines and entertainment/arcade games.
Therefore, legislators amended the gaming rules to include a “Fuzzy Animals” exception. This law differentiates an electronic amusement game that offers small prizes from a slot machine.
It states that an electronic gaming machine is legal so long as the prizes are worth less than $5. Furthermore, the prizes can’t be worth more than 10x the value of the original bet.
Law Enforcement Aren’t Fans of These Machines
Operators that run Eight Liners do a good job of skirting Texas’ gaming laws. They know just the right size of prizes to offer to stay within the legal boundaries.
Some even make payouts in tokens. The tokens then make players eligible to win a more-expensive prize, such as an Xbox or smartphone. Thus, game rooms can offer bigger prizes without violating any laws.
Big payouts are part of the allure of slot machines. The Fuzzy Animals law, however, doesn’t create much room for large payouts.
That said, some operators ask developers to produce machines that pay more. They’re hoping that no undercover officers show up and play said games.
They may offer machines that pay over $5 and/or more than 10x the stake. In doing so, they’re violating the Fuzzy Animals statute and venturing into illegal gaming territory.
Some Texas Game Rooms Have Been Fined and Even Shut Down
Police have fined and even closed down some Texas slots parlors that don’t follow the Fuzzy Animals law. They can go undercover into these game rooms and look for machines that pay too much.
If an undercover officer sees that a machine pays more than 10x the bet, for example, they have all the required evidence to cite the venue and its owner.
Those guilty of violating the laws are subject to a Class A misdemeanor. This crime is punishable by confiscation of the device, up to one year in jail, and as much as a $4,000 fine. Repeat violators even risk losing their business licenses permanently.
Will Texas Ever Legalize Regular Slot Machines?
Gaming operators go to incredible lengths to offer slots. However, they can only offer small payouts if they hope to remain legal. At best, they can pay out in tokens, which are eligible for larger prizes.
Texas gamblers, meanwhile, would appreciate normal slot machines that offer bigger prizes. They can’t currently enjoy those due to the state’s strict laws on gaming.
Of course, the legislature could solve this problem by legalizing and regulating casinos. Players would then be able to enjoy regular slots with the latest features and graphics.
The Lone Star State has never really come close to legalizing casinos. However, it has taken bigger steps towards doing so in recent years.
The Las Vegas Sands Corp recently ran a campaign to get gaming legislation passed by 2021. This casino corporation ultimately fell short, but it did at least convince some lawmakers to discuss the matter.
Unfortunately, the Sands’ bill didn’t even draw a committee hearing. It’ll still be a long road towards getting gaming approved in the state.
Even still, the Sands at least got the ball rolling. Perhaps they or another casino corporation will continue lobbying TX politicians on this matter.
What Would Happen to Game Rooms If Regular Slots Became Available?
For the moment, game rooms basically have a monopoly on the Texas slots scene. Their Eight Liners continue to stay popular throughout the state.
Of course, online slots from offshore casinos are also popular in Texas. They provide an alternative for those who want to enjoy slot machines through their smartphone, tablet, and/or computer.
Gamblers who want the live gaming experience, though, have to visit slots parlors. They can legally play for small prizes at these game rooms.
Assuming Texas were ever to regulate casinos, though, then these game rooms would become less and less popular. They’d likely go extinct within a decade or so after casinos were approved.
Speaking of which, Eight Liner slots can’t offer very large prizes or they’ll become illegal. Casino slots, meanwhile, are able to feature much bigger jackpots with progressive slot machines.
The Likely Future of Eight Liners
Eight Line slot machines will probably remain popular in Texas until any major legislative moves are made. Business is booming for operators that feature these games. They’re filling the void left by the absence of legal slots.
Texas doesn’t appear on the verge of changing anything soon regarding their gambling market. No committee even bothered to look at Sands Corp’s bill for legalizing casinos.
I predict that Eight Liners will continue to be popular in the Lone Star State for another 5 to 10 years. These machines could even be the predominant slots after a decade.
The one thing that could ruin my prediction is if lawmakers revise the Fuzzy Animals law or get rid of it. This action would close a loophole and essentially make Eight Liners illegal.
Until that happens, or Texas approves casinos, then Eight Liners will remain the most popular ways to enjoy live slots. Likewise, the game rooms that offer these machines will keep raking in the cash.
Eight Line slot machines are basic games named for the fact that they feature 8 paylines. They offer three reels along with classic symbols, like cherries, bars, and lemons.
These games are wildly popular in Texas due to the lack of other slots options. They appear poised to continue attracting many players until something changes.
Texas definitely isn’t on the verge of regulating casinos any time soon. It may not even amend the Fuzzy Animals law within the near future.
As long as the status quo remains, then Eight Liners will continue being a force in Texas. They are the closest thing that the Lone Star State has to slot machines right now.