A Pachinko Machine is a device rather like a pinball machine, used for amusement and prizes.
Although originally strictly mechanical, modern pachinko machines are a cross between a pinball machine and a video slot machine.
The machines are widespread in Japan in establishments called “Pachinko Parlors”, which also often feature slot machines.
The player purchases a large number of small steel balls which are inserted, in bulk, into the machine.
Originally, machines had a spring-loaded lever for shooting the balls individually, but modern machines use a round “throttle” that merely controls how quickly an electrically fired plunger shoots the balls onto the playfield. The balls then drop through an array of pins, and usually simply fall through to the bottom, but occasionally fall into certain gates which make the machine pay out more balls.
Most current machines include a slot machine (these are called “pachi-slo“), and the big winnings are ultimately paid not from the balls falling into gates, but from the slot machine matches that follow. In many modern machines the balls have nothing to do with determining winnings, which are based strictly on electronic random number generators.
The winnings are in the form of more balls, which the player may either use to keep playing, or exchange for tokens or prizes such as pens or cigarette lighters.