Tracking down the IGT Fortune keno machines

Dec 12, 2000 8:04 AM

It’s with more than a sense of nostalgia that video keno players should check out the older IGT Fortune keno machines. These classic games have three- and four-coin maximum bets and dumping hoppers, and offer one of the better chances to win.

For newcomers in town, these machines are found mostly at the downtown properties such as the El Cortez, Western Hotel, Plaza, Las Vegas Club and Gold Spike. There are also a few circulating around some of the "locals" casinos such as Palace Station, Gold Coast and Skyline.

Unlike the newer models, these classics weren’t designed to accumulate credits, although some have been retrofitted with the software to do so. Instead, they dump coins after every payout. It may seem tedious to re-insert coins after every payoff, but that’s part of the allure of these machines.

Another charming element of these venerable machines is the jackpot bell. For those who are fortunate to hit something, the bell goes off like a doorbell from the 1950s, sort of a sick ringing sound that’s enough to make your molars rattle. But a jackpot is a jackpot, so who’s complaining?

Moreover, the video keno offers are significantly greater than their video poker counterparts. For instance, the top award for hitting 10-out-of-10 spots on a 25-cent keno machine pays $10,000 (with maximum four coins bet), but the "smaller" payoffs are actually better deals.

For example, hitting seven out of seven numbers pays a whopping $7,000 with four coins bet, a significantly better reward than the $1,000 paid by a video poker machine with five coins bet for a Royal Flush. With odds nearly the same (about 40,000-1), you can see you have a much better payoff with the keno jackpot (7,000-1) than with the poker jackpot (800-1).

And you don’t have to hit the top jackpot to make money. Using the 10-out-of-10 example, the odds of hitting all numbers are huge. But with odds of about 7,400-1, the chances of hitting eight-out-of-10 are five times more likely than hitting a Royal, but the payoffs are identical. Yet keno requires only four coins (as opposed to five) to hit the top prize. Such a deal!

Overall, it might be difficult to track down these old timers. And some people won’t like the work of shoveling coins, and many will miss the sound and graphics of more modern machines. But for keno purists, nothing’s more fun than the old IGT Fortune machines.