When it comes to casino games, Pachinko may be a name you have never heard before, and that’s not very surprising! While it’s hugely popular in Japan, Pachinko has not spread very far into the rest of the world. As any gaming enthusiast will know, we want to know all about every type of game out there, so we have put together some info for you regarding this intriguing form of entertainment.
How Pachinko Works
At first glance Pachinko looks a bit like a slot machine and a pinball machine got together and had a baby. Your first glance wouldn’t be too wrong as that’s pretty much exactly how it works!
The machine is upright just like a slot machine and players sit in front of it, feeding money in. The colours are bright and flashing lights and fun ditties are just as cheerful as that of any slot. The difference comes in that the playing field isn’t a number of reels; it is instead what looks exactly like a pinball machine. This is where the similarity ends. In pinball, the player can control the ball once it has been launched from the reserve. However, in Pachinko the balls simply fall from the top and meet various obstacles on the way down to the bottom. Depending on the items it hits or cups they fall into or miss, different numbers of balls call be gained (think of the balls as chips).
The player does control one bit, and that’s the launch of the ball from the reserve onto the playing board. This is the most exciting part of the game that sets itself aside from a slot machine. Depending on how high you launch the balls, they will drop into the game in different locations, so the player does actually have some element of control over the outcome of the game. When playing a slot machine, despite various superstitions, the speed or frequency with which you hit the button does not affect the outcome of the reel spin.
Pachinko is also markedly different in how winnings are claimed. When you win chips on a slot machine, they fall out of the machine into your bucket and can be used again to play another round, or cashed out. However, when you pay your coin to play a game of pachinko, the balls fall into a reserve from which they can be launched into the game. Even if you win more balls, they will also fall into the reserve; so all your winnings are stored in one place. When you decide that you would like to cash out, players press a button on the machine and an attendant comes over to claim the balls and escort them to a prize desk.
This is where Japanese law has significantly changed things. It’s actually completely illegal to play any game for money in Japan, so Pachinko parlours are not allowed to exchange the balls for cash. Instead, players can choose from a variety of prizes. They can range from electronics, to bicycles or even vouchers for local grocery stores. However, almost all parlours will have the option of a ‘special gift’. This prize can only be claimed with a large number of balls, and is usually a simple gold or silver-plated mannequin or figurine. Players can then go to another shop nearby where they can sell the figurine for cash, thereby claiming their winnings. This is kept nominally legal by the shop not being technically associated with the parlour, thereby keeping the businesses separate. It’s a chance the parlours take and one that they seldom get called on.
Pachinko around the World
Pachinko is not a game that is commonly seen around the world, and there are only one or two casinos in Vegas that even have a machine like it. The major reason for this is that the game is designed specifically to exclude the need for chips or money payouts and doesn’t fit with the structure of slot machine style gaming for money. It would be quite troublesome to have the need for an attendant to assist every time someone on the casino floor in the MGM needed to cash out, for example.
That being said, with the advent of games being available almost anywhere online, digital versions of the game are available for play everywhere around the world. There are several very popular Pachinko games that can be played online, and the balls are translated directly as cash in these versions. The concept of the game has certainly been incorporated into slots as bonus rounds or special features.
Pachinko may be relatively unheard of at present, but it’s starting to appear more regularly at online casinos and it’s almost certain that in the future, it will become a favourite with players across the globe.