Pachinko is a Japanese gaming device that originated in the 1920s as a children’s toy. By 1930 it was an adult pastime. Shut down during the World War II years, pachinko parlors have re-surged with a vengeance since then. Originally pachinko machines were mechanical devices but the modern day equipment resembles a cross between a pinball machine and a video slot game.
Pachinko machines are found in pachinko parlors that are widespread in Japan. The parlors have a near identical environment and can be made out from far. They have loud decor and fancy architecture and are filled with cigarette smoke, the loud din of the machines, high decibel music and flashing lights. There is a great variety in the machines, which come in different sizes, decorations, color, light arrangement and music. There is also a variety in skill level with some machines operating at very high speeds and having gates that are difficult to access and other machines that are slower and require less expertise.
The initial supply of metal balls has to be bought. The earlier machines had a spring-loaded lever for shooting the balls, but today this function is carried out by an electrically operated throttle. In the machines the balls go through a series of obstacles and can either get out of play or generate more balls. Initially it is easy to get the ball into a gate that pays more balls. But the payout is restricted to a few balls.
Once the player crosses a limit the rapid payout mode is activated with lights and sound. Now it gets more difficult to get the balls into the paying gates but the payouts are larger. In some cases they can go up to 100 balls. One of the reasons that pachinko machines are so popular is that they can be easily customized to the player’s needs. The players can adjust the multiplier according to their skill level. A higher multiplier will result in higher payouts.
When the player is through playing he gets the balls he has won. He can keep these for use next time or exchange them for voucher with which he can purchase the next days grocery or exchange them for gifts ranging from pens to scooters. Under Japanese law the balls cannot be exchanged for cash, but there is an undercover market in which the vouchers can discreetly be cashed.