The first couple bingo machines were fixed payout. You
always got the same number of credits for 3, 4, or 5-in-line
Advancing odds changed that. You can maybe increase
the number of credits you can win by depositing more
coins/credits before shooting the first ball (and
sometimes after the first ball, on games with the
stop and shop score booster feature).
A typical 3-in-line payout on an early machine
with ten odds steps would be:
2 4 6 8 12 16 24 32 48 64
The first coin inserted would reset the machine to the 2 level, successive
coins would increase it zero or more steps. Zero is the
main reason the machines are considered gambling devices
in many areas. You can deposit a coin and the odds may not
increase (at least they never get worse, like on some
early one-ball machines).
In the late 70's in a effort to distance the games from
legal definitions of gambling devices, the advancing
odds feature disappeared again on some machines. In addition,
there were a few games made between 1956 and the late
70's that didn't have this feature either. These games
were usually for territories where standard bingos were
The special game on Safari, it is
unusual in that rather than giving you the option to take
your payout after the 3rd, 4th, or
5th ball, the fifth ball actually determined whether
you won or not.
See the Safari flyer.
auto-mission coin divider
Not something the player sees. Behind the coin door
is a mechanism that diverts inserted coins into one of
two cash boxes.
The location owner has access to one,
and the operator the other. The idea was to have the game
automatically split the take (and to some extent allow
the location to recycle coins without needing to
get into the main cash box).
The split was adjustable from 1/1 to 1/5.
Similar to the hold/double hold feature, but
drops balls based on what section
in the section scoring area they are in.
Playfield hole #16 does something special, such
as awarding an extra ball.
The ballyhole was also used to light features automatically for
the NEXT game played, like enabling all the
blue section scores
A three number blue section on a magic screen layout
would pay some huge amount. Early screen games usually
paid based on the green odds:
- 2 in blue scores like 5 in green
- 3 in blue scores like 5 in green
Later screen games just paid a fixed amout:
- 3 in blue scores 200
- 3 in blue scores 600
- 2 in blue scores 600!
The bump feature was used to give the playfield a
hard nudge when a button was pushed. A large
solenoid did the actual jerking of the playfield.
The idea was
to give the player a way to bump the ball off a post/spring
without risking tilting the game.
It was only used on Hi-Fi.
Most early bingo's made no distinction on how an
in-line scoring win was achieved.
When colored lines were
added, though, it became more important how the in-line
score was formed on the card. For example, 3-in-line on a red line
could be worth more that 3-in-line on a yellow line.
On many games where you could rearrange the numbers/sections,
the colored lines/sections scored independently, so you could
often get a 3-in-line in yellow, then rearrange to
score a 3-in-line in red using the same numbers and get paid
for both wins!
A high payout (e.g. 200 or 400) awarded for lighting the
four corner numbers of the main card or super cards.
On a couple games, the "corners" were a little unusual,
but the concept was the same.
In most bingos with in-line scoring, the five number
diagonal lines forming a big X through the main card
counted. Games with diagonal scores generally
allowed any diagonal line three numbers or longer to
double duty numbers
On Twist - a number
could appear twice on the same magic card,
so making that number lights two positions on the 5x5 card.
On Miss America games, sometimes sliding the magic lines would put the same number twice on one card, and on Miami Beach and Parade, opening the curtain/extra lines would reveal multiple instances of the same number.
double or nothing
This feature was implemented differently on a few machines.
You could either take your payout, or you could try for
When attempting double-or-nothing,
sometimes you played another game (usually three ball) with
a specific objective, or sometimes the machine just
made a few noises as it generated a random result and
then paid you double or zip.
Appeared on a couple mystic line games.
You could change the payout multiplier for the
The gotcha was that if you made
one color 2x, you would make another color 1/2x.
On games where you could move numbers around or
changed spotted numbers, the game usually disabled the
feature before the fourth ball was shot. Payout was
generally enabled after the fourth ball was shot!
allowed the player to moved/spot numbers after the fourth
or after the fifth ball was shot, so it was possible to
arrange the numbers for the highest win.
Extended time was
often tied to rollover buttons. The left rollover would
enable after-fourth, the right rollover would enable
Note that the rollovers themselves were
features that were not always enabled, but had to be
bought at mystery intervals using coins/credits.
Almost all the bingo's are five ball games, and
you have the option to try and get up to three extra
balls by playing credits or depositing coins after the
fifth ball is shot.
The likelyhood of getting extra balls decreases as the
payout odds/feature levels increase, and getting
successive extra balls is less likely than getting the
In some games, it's actually impossible to get an
extra ball 50% of the time if certain features are lit!
Similar to the magic curtain, but only
one additional horizontal line at the top/bottom of a
7x5 card is exposed when a panel slides open.
This may be the single best feature to have on a
bingo for home use. The OK game level was
actually based on the green odds level. To get the best
possible OK game, you needed to have the green
odds at maximum, which is pretty tough (and expensive)
The futurity feature allowed you to accumulate OK games
in an additive fashion until you got to the maximum
game. The futurity count on the backglass displayed a
number between one and twelve. The orange section
award on the magic screen would add 1,2,3,5,9,or
12 to the futurity count. When you can get the futurity
count up to 12, then you can play
the machine with practically everything enabled, all
odds at/near maximum, extended/extra time/play
at maximum, etc.
Unless you are really unlucky, you should rack up
a huge payoff when finally playing your futurity game.
Appeared only on Mystic Gate.
The rebound rubber could be lifted up so the ball
would pass beneath it and then deflect sideways out
across the second row of numbers on the playfield,
letting you bypass holes 1-6.
"Gate" was also used on the backglass to
describe the purple section on
Golden Gate and Silver Sails.
A special award on a couple of the magic screen
The golden game is a special no extra ball
similar to an OK game, but rather than
shooting balls for the usual in-line scoring
or section scoring, you are limited to a
magic screen that only has gold colored
You need to put either two or three balls in the same
section to win a payout displayed on the backglass.
The player could drop all the balls in the even or
odd numbered holes and shoot them again.
Double hold let you do it twice.
This was implemented using
offset holes in the shutter panel where the
panel would slide up and sideways to release
the correct balls.
It's a pretty neat feature!
On most games, you win credits by getting a minimum of
three adjacent numbers lit in a vertical/horizontal line
or the two corner-to-corner diagonal lines of
the 5x5 card.
A couple games also included some extra 3-in-line and
4-in-line diagonals, and a few games also had 6-in-line
scoring on 3x6 (18 holes) or 4x6 cards (24 holes).
The other major scoring style is section scoring.
"Allows players to play off replays immediately or
at a later date".
Ok, what that means is there is a switch on the
side of the cabinet that can be turned by a key. Every
time you closed the switch, one credit is added to the
It's pretty handy if you don't have the machine
"misadjusted" to allow free play, as you can quickly
add credits to the game without putting in coins.
When the games were operated, it was supposed to allow
you to take your winnings in the form of an IOU. When
you came back at another time, the location could put your
credits back on the game using the key.
There was an interesting other use. Many late model
games restricted the total number of coins you could
insert into the machine for one game, but there was no
restriction on the number of credits you could play. So
instead of putting in coins, toss the bartender some bills
and let him put the credits on, then you can play as many as
you want per game.
Using a concept similar to overlapping/shifting cards, the Twist used a unique mechanism.
The standard in-line scoring
pattern was displayed on the backglass, but the card
behind it is actually 5x16 big. You are only
seeing a 5x5 view of it. You score in whatever 5x5 view
you push the R-button in.
The same number may appear more than once on a card. The
marketing people dubbed this double duty numbers.
It is actually a magic screen mechanism that has the
numbers attached to the screen panels. The purple
highlight in the pic is the viewable area.
The card is 5x9, but 4 lines are initally hidden
by vertical panels (like a rolltop desk slats).
The screen slides right at mystery intervals
revealing the additional numbers beneath,
thus increasing the possible scoring combinations.
Miami Beach was the only machine to use this concept
as the main feature of the game.
The first feature that mechanically moved numbers!
The numbers on the bingo card were on strips that
could be moved one position by turning knobs/pushing
buttons on the foot rail.
Usually, the numbered strips were the vertical columns of
the card, and they could be shifted up/down one position.
When a column was shifted up, the top number "wrapped"
and became the bottom number. The bottom number wrapped to
the top when shifting down.
bally:miss_america introduced horizontally shifting
lines that used two 5x5 cards next to each other.
A number could be slid from one card to the other.
The third type of magic line is the cleverest. It is
a horizontal line consisting of four numbers. The numbers
would shift right through all four positions. When
a number fell off the right side, it reappeared on the left.
For example, here is the four possible magic line positions
on Cypress Gardens:
magic number doubling
On a few six card games, scores are doubled
on certain cards if you make a ball in the "magic number"
The magic number is randomly chosen before the
first ball is shot.
A variation on magic squares.
Six numbers are connected together with a chain, and
they wind around such that a number can appear in
any position within a 2x3 rectangle.
A mechanism is under the top line of playfield holes
which allows you to physically move the balls left or
right one hole every time a button is pushed.
A ball in hole #1 cannot be pushed left, so if a
ball in hole #2 is pushed left, and there is a ball
in hole #1, #2 has no place to go. It rolls down the
playfield to land elsewhere.
Similarly, holes #6 and #7 have the same effect when
shifting balls to the right.
First introduced in
the numbers on the card are stationary, but a
moving metal screen is slid across them.
has in-line scoring and irregularly shaped colored
In the sections, rather than needing 3,4,or 5-in-line,
you can get 3,4, or 5-in-section to score. While some sections
have numbers that are in a line, to win in a section, the
lit numbers DO NOT need to be adjacent!
Screen Home Position
Screen Position B
Screen Position E
Screen Position G
In the screen home position, the standard three color
in-line scoring is available. As the screen is slid left,
the in-line scoring is replaced with section scoring.
At position B, the scoring is a combination of both
methods. By position E, in-line scoring is gone
Also notice how in position B, the green diagonal
is now over three numbers that could not be a diagonal
winner on the screen in the home position, but only
three numbers are in the diagonal line!
Some of the numbers on the bingo card are are mounted
on wheels (behind the backglass), and pushing buttons
on the foot rail allows you to rotate the wheels
to rearrange the numbers into paying combinations.
The wheels have 4 numbers mounted on each. Here is
the standard layout for magic square A. The first
table shows the "home" position of the numbers, and
the second table shows the numbers rotated one position:
The 4-number squares were
initially used in the corners of the card, so people
also called the feature "turning corners".
First appearing on Border Beauty, this new
game type took the section scoring
idea from the magic screen games
and got rid of the in-line scoring that
had been on every bingo up until now.
While they were at it, they removed five holes
from the playfield, and decided four colors (red/yellow/green/blue)
were better than three.
Mystic Line Home Position
Mystic Line Winner
The nasty trick was that one number
in each color group was white with a corresponding colored
star. That number counted as the fifth number in the color
only, otherwise it only counted as a lit star. (e.g. the
four blue lit plus the blue star would pay 5-in-blue. Two
blue lit plus the blue star is worth nothing).
So you really have five balls and you have to get at least
three out of four in the color to win.
Unlike the magic screen games, the color sections
were stationary and you moved the numbers behind
the metal panel that had the color pattern painted
The main card is 4x5 (four rows, five columns). The center
column was a Magic Line - it could
be moved up or down one position. The two columns on
the left could be swapped with themselves, and so
could the two columns on the right.
Keeping in mind the popularity of the OK game feature,
they added this as a standard item on almost all mystic line games, and called it
the Red Letter Feature. 3 or 2 balls
in the star numbers would award the red letter game.
In addition, all mystic line games had a 3 or 4 star numbers
score some fixed number of credits.
next game award
A great idea from the one-ball games.
you do on the current game will enable a feature
automatically on the next game. Are you going to
play again?...of course!
next play guarantee
The pressure to make the games appear
less like gambling devices produced this
Lighted panels on the backglass would tell you
what the next coin played would do: advance odds,
award features, etc.
You didn't know how much the scores/features might
advance, but you were guaranteed at least one step.
A nickel is big money is 1954, but chump change in
1965, so Bally started making their machines accept
Inserting a quarter would cycle the machine once, and
add four credits to the replay register.
A next game award on steroids. On a
section scoring game, there is an orange section
on the magic screen.
Two or more balls in
the orange will give you a free game with guaranteed
minimum odds and features lit (you could still deposit more
coins/credits to try and further improve the
One of the letters in the name of the game on the backglass would
be lit in red, and the corresponding letter on a center
S/I cards strip would define the guaranteed minimums.
The OK game was also called a red letter game on
later model bingos and they added another level to the
Do you take the two in the orange and hope for a better game next time,
or do you forget the orange, move the screen to a different
position and go for a high payout this game?
One-ball games came before the in-line bingo's, and
the name is literal. After depositing coins to determine
payout odds and features, the player shot one ball to
determine the winner.
There were actually a few one-ball games made with five
balls. The first four balls would be shot into a channel
on the left top of the playfield by "skill", thus
qualifying the fifth ball to be used to roll around the
playfield and drop into a hole to determine win/lose.
The skill consisted of pulling the ball shooter all the
way back and letting it go. Of course, the whole point
was to try and convince the law that the game was not
a gambling device, but required actual player talent to
determine the outcome.
I doubt the court was impressed.
The game has one main card, usually a 5x5 grid of
Usually, at least three numbers next to each other
on either a horizontal, vertical, or the main 5 number
diagonals are required to win.
There were, however, a few variations that occured
over the years. The dimensions of the card, 2-in-line
winners, and winning on the other diagonal combinations
were all features that were used.
Another common feature was corners scoring.
orange scores as green
On games with an orange section,
making 3 or more balls in the orange section scores
the green odds
On a section scoring game,
with the OK game feature, the
color of the section to win the OK game is orange.
You needed to make two balls in the five ball
orange section to win.
A 5x9 array of numbers in the backglass with two
vertical bars that the player could move to
pick the 5x5 card that they wanted to use within the
Red, green, blue, and sometimes white buttons
on/around the coin door could be pressed to
limit what a depositied coin/credit would try and
The blue button was for scores only, the
green button for features only, the red button for
both scores and features, and the white button for
odd game-specific features.
Why bother? Well, if you are playing in red button
mode, the scores may increment one step, and a
magic square may advance one step.
If you are playing blue button, however,
the scores may increase three steps, but you have
no chance for any features to improve.
Oddly enough, this feature appeared on the second
game Bally made (Spot Lite), and then
didn't surface again for another 9 years.
On a section scoring game,
with the golden game feature, the
color of the section to win the golden game is purple.
red letter game
See the OK game.
The setup of the next game
was determined by what letter in the game name on the
backglass was lit in red.
On most games there is a pair or buttons on the
lower left (yellow) and right (red) of the playfield
that award a feature when the ball rolls over it.
On early games,
the rollovers spotted numbers.
On most games, they moved the extended/extra time/play
feature to after-4th for the yellow, and after-5th for
United's answer to Bally's magic squares, the
eight numbers forming a square around the
center number of the 5x5 main card could be rotated around.
3-in-line scores as 4-in-line, and
sometimes 4-in-line scores as 5-in-line.
the boost only occurs with certain patterns on the card,
like a colored vertical line, or
particular section on a section scoring game.
Unlike in-line scoring, section scoring
determined winners by balls being in the same colored
pattern on the card, and most importantly, the
numbers did not need to be adjacent to win.
See magic screen for a picture.
At sometime during the game, the player would
choose whether to enabled a super card,
a super line or some other game feature.
A score booster, but you get to decide sometime
during the game which color you want the boost to
A big knob on the coin door could be turned to
choose spotted numbers on the bingo card.
Usually the knob was disabled before the 3rd, 4th, or 5th
balls was shot.
On a couple of late six card games, the knob was
removed and buttons on the foot rail could be pressed
to pick one of the six cards to have it's center number
The game type has 6 5x5 bingo cards on the backglass.
Most games enable one card per coin/credit guaranteed,
but a few enable the additional cards on mystery intervals.
Individual numbers light on all enabled cards at the
same time, and wins on each card were scored separately,
although only the highest winner on each card counted (i.e.
if you had two 3-in-line winners on the same card, you
got paid for only one. If you had a 3-in-line and a
4-in-line on the same card, you got paid the 4-in-line
To encourage maximum coins to be played, the payouts
generally increased for successive cards. The max payout
for a game is usually only obtainable on card #6.
A game within the game. You needed to shoot the first ball
into the number (or numbers) lit on the
skill shot display on the backglass.
If you succeed, you immediately
get paid an award that was independent of the normal
A game within a game that appeared on
This game was completely independent from
the normal bingo card scoring, and appeared to
be intended for people who found the regular bingo
play too complex.
The initial style of
play was alternating even/odd holes. You need to make an
even numbered hole on the first ball, odd on the second,
If you succeed on the third ball, you can stop and take
the payout, or you can go double-or-nothing on the fourth.
Succeed again, and you can stop or go for double-or-nothing
on the fifth ball.
Many United games had this feature. The letters
in the game name would light up as special playfield
holes or rollover buttons were hit. When some/all
of the game name was lit, a bonus was awarded.
In some machines, the lit letters would hold over from
Spotting is the lighting of a number
when a ball is not in the corresponding numbered hole.
spottem usually refers to free numbers lit
before the first ball is shot, and is a feature awarded on
can be heard when people make a ball in a hole
that has been spotted, effectively wasting the ball!
See spot numbers.
Some numbers on the backglass, usually four,
are outline with a star.
Lighting all star numbers
pays a big fixed award or one of the color 5-in-line
stop and shop score booster
At some point in the game after
shooting two or three balls, you can deposit
more coins/credits to try in increase the odds/scores.
Appeared only on Bonus 7. Three numbers on on
the card have sunbursts drawn around them. If you get
two or three of the numbers lit, the next game will
have the special game at maxmimum payout.
This was the only machine that had
any connection between the main game and the
special game. It's also the hardest special
game to win.
The normal bingo card was 25 numbers in a 5x5 grid.
A supercard was a smaller 3x3 card on the backglass in
addition to the main card, and usually 3-in-line on
a supercard paid 4-in-line scores.
On some games, corners scoring also applied to the
A horizontal or vertical line of numbers on the card
that pays more than the normal 3,4, or 5-in-line payouts.
On a couple of games, the super line was separate from the main card,
and was a row of six numbers. You would use a knob on the front of
the game to select three adjacent numbers within the line. You then
got paid if you lit two are more adjacent numbers in the set of three
that you selected. The payout was usually 2-in-superline scores
as 4-in-line, and all 3-in-superline scores as 5-in-line.
section scoring combined with score boosting.
Certain color sections on the magic screen,
usually marked with thin black lines, would score
Two numbers lit in this section would pay like three,
three pay like four, etc.
Odds multiplier awarded at mystery intervals or
sometimes by rollover buttons.
The multiplier effect may work on all wins, or wins
only on colored lines.
This type of game has three 5x5 bingo cards on the backglass.
Some games enable one card per coin/credit guaranteed,
others enable the additional cards on
triple deck advancing odds/scores
Early bingos sometimes used the idea of colored lines
and had score booster features tied to the colors.
Big Show, bally
standardized the in-line scoring games to
have red, yellow, and green lines.
Triple deck odds made the payout for 3,4, or 5-in-line
depend on the colored line the win was in.
For example, 3-in-line in red might
pay 8, but three-in-line in green could pay 64.
This really introduced a whole new level
of gambling to the game. Do you take a
guaranteed 3-in-line winner in red and get paid 8,
or do you rearrange the numbers and go for a 3 in
line in green that pays 64?
The ability to move the numbers around via features
like magic squares and
magic lines added further strategy to the
game play, and reduced the luck factor.
Two numbers get lit when you make either of them.
Two 5x5 cards are the primary scoring cards on the
A common feature on this type of game was to have
horizontal magic lines spanning the two cards
such that numbers could be shifted from one card to
ok, here's the catch-all category, and it
covers games that I don't know or they are
A short-lived game type first introduced with
Big Wheel, only two games of this type were made.
The numbers are arranged in a circle, and a
spinning disk inside the circle can
be rotated to put the numbers into colored sections.
Since your couldn't actually move the numbers, just what
color they were in, the game is not the easiest to
An improved select-a-spot. Certain holes
on the playfield are wild. If you make one of these holes,
you can use a knob on the front door to light
a different number.
It is possible to light any
of the 25 numbers with the knob, but to make it harder,
the 25 numbers are divided into two color groups.
Making hole 1-3 will allow you to pick a number
in one color group, making 4-7 the other color
group. If you have both color groups enabled, then
potting a ball in any hole #1-#7 will allow you to
spot a number in either color group