Casinos have more slot machines than all of the other games combined. But unlike many casino games, the slots still have some secrets.
Looking to play slots online? Check out one of the sites above!
Here’s a list of 15 slot machine secrets the casinos don’t want you to know about.
If you’re gambling, you’re giving it to them voluntarily. Casino rewards programs and loyalty cards, like MGM Resorts International’s M Life and Caesars Entertainment’s Total Rewards, allow casinos. Some games are way more of a ripoff than others — even by casino standards.
1. Slot placement isn’t random
Although casinos would like you to think that everything on the floor is placed in a completely random way for ease of access and aesthetics, this certainly isn’t the case.
Every square foot of the casino is analyzed, measured, and reported on by the casino gaming department. Traffic patterns are monitored and value is placed on certain areas of the casino to determine which slots or games to place in that area.
Usually, the highest yield slots are placed in the most popular locations in the casino. On top of this, the most popular slots are also placed in these areas to attract players into the casino to play.
So now you know that those slots that are most prominent and visible are the ones that make the most money for the casino, which means they’re also the most disadvantageous for the player. Head towards the back of the casino next time you want to play slot machines to find a better value.
2. Some slots pay out more than others
Not all slot machines are created equal, and this means they all don’t pay out at the same rate.
Generally speaking, video slots pay out less than classic reel slots. This is because reel slots are cheaper to run and maintain, and aren’t as appealing to the player as the video slot.
Video slots are now extravagant and have pop-culture themes, which attracts more players. Because of this, the casinos can dial down the payout rate.
Alternatively, the classic slots aren’t as popular or appealing anymore so the casinos will dial up the payout rate to attract more players, and subsequently keep you at the slot longer. I suggest you do a bit of searching on the internet about slot payout rates as this information is widely available, particularly for popular gaming locations.
3. The slots club doesn’t exist to reward you
This is one of the biggest cons in the gambling industry. You know how the casinos promote themselves as giving back to the player and rewarding you for your play? This is all a lie.
Now, I’m not saying you won’t get some free play credits, access to promotions, and other comps for being a part of the slot or player’s club, but this isn’t why it exists. It exists to provide the casino marketing department with player data so that they can attract and retain you as a customer.
Yes, that’s right, all the free money and comps you get out of the casino are from the marketing department. They will analyze your play, movement, likes, dislikes, and betting patterns to determine how best to market themselves to you so that you return.
The slots club is a powerful marketing tool, and while it’s always a good idea to join and use your card whenever you play, don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is all done to reward you.
4. You can’t win at slots in the long run
People do win at slots all the time. They have big wins and small wins; the problem is that on a long enough timeline it’s impossible to win.
Slots are manufactured and programmed in a way to ensure that they only pay back a certain percentage of the money that’s placed into them by players. Usually, this is in the range of 70-90% but it can be far worse or better depending on where you’re playing.
No one would ever play if you didn’t win from time to time, so this is also built into the machines. Some casinos don’t want you to know this and in some US states, they don’t even have to tell you what the payout rate is. Fortunately, there are many states that do provide it to players, and I highly recommend taking advantage of that information.
Although it’s pretty common these days for players to know that you can’t win in the long run, some still don’t know, and those that are oblivious to this fact are loved by casinos.
5. Max betting is the best option
This one may seem counter-intuitive but it’s true. On most slots, max betting activates all the bonuses and jackpots and increases your odds of getting lucky and winning, which makes it the best option for players.
Can Casinos Control Your Winnings Check
Although it doesn’t make too much of a difference, it still creates more favorable conditions for the player. The casinos don’t want you to know this because they want you to bet small and more often at a worse payout rate, which makes them more money in the long run.
One thing you certainly don’t want to do though is max-bet above your bankroll and burn through more money than you intended to. Playing more than you can afford to lose is playing right into the casino’s hands. If you can’t afford the max bet on a slot then drop down in denominations or move to a machine where the max bet is smaller and works within your bankroll.
6. Class 2 slots aren’t really slots at all
Sometimes you’ll come across slot machines that are classified as class 2 slots. These are usually found on native Indian reservations or racinos in the United States.
These aren’t traditional slots like what you would find in Las Vegas. Vegas slots are Class 3 slots and are proper slot machine games.
Class 2 slots are actually pre-programmed bingo games which present a slot face for entertainment purposes. Class 3 slots are usually illegal in the jurisdictions that have these slots bingo games, so game manufacturers and casinos combined their forces to come up with this alternative.
Sometimes you’ll see a small bingo card on the bottom corner of the screen which will straight away tell you that this is a class 2 slot machine. So, be warned, these machines are not slots at all and you’ll be effectively playing computer bingo when you start spinning on these.
7. Video slots pay out less than classic slots
Big fancy video slots will almost always pay out less than classic reel slots. This is because of the fact they’re more entertaining, draw more players and action, and cost the casinos a lot more to run and maintain.
These big machines often take up two to three times the amount of space compared to classic slots and tend to cost the casinos a lot more to keep them running. In order to maximize profits, the casinos will then dial down the payout rate on these machines so they still make enough money on them.
Immersive video slots are a huge moneymaker for the casino, so don’t go in thinking you have the same chance of winning on these compared to traditional old school slots. If you’re looking for better chances to win on slot machines, then stick to the classic slots.
8. Slots are completely random
Casinos don’t want you to know this, but slot machines are completely random in nature. Although they are weighted to pay out at a certain rate, this is still in line with the randomness of results that a slot will produce.
Each spin is completely independent of the previous spin. As an example, if you were to win the jackpot on one spin, then the likelihood of winning the jackpot on the next spin is exactly the same. No previous events impact future events. This isn’t how they work.
Casinos don’t want you to know this because they want you to think slots are “hot” or “cold”, because that will cloud your judgment in respect to how much you play and gamble. This works out better for them in the long run so they are happy for these myths to grow and spread.
9. All of your play is tracked
From the moment you sit down at a slot and enter your player card and cash, every movement you make is tracked automatically by the casino. Slot machines are now networked and have sophisticated hardware and software to track everything you do.
This information is collected, analyzed, and insight reports are developed and delivered to the casino marketing department so they can work out the best possible way to market their casino and slots to you so that you keep coming back and play more. If you don’t want your play tracked then simply don’t use your player’s card, but then you won’t get any casino comps.
In the near future, if it’s not being used already, casino marketing departments will start using security infrastructure to monitor and track your play irrespective of whether you use your card or not. Facial recognition programs will detect you, associate you with a player’s card or create a new player account and track everything you do on a video feed.
This is a bit scary and it shows the lengths casinos will go to. If you play online, everything is tracked under your player account, so it’s easier for online casinos to monitor what you do in this respect.
10. Payout tickets are more likely to be put back into a machine
Over the past 20 years, casinos have slowly phased out cash payouts at slots. These days you’ll likely receive a ticket when you cash out, which you then must take to a cash-out machine or the cage to exchange for cash.
While the casinos will claim this is for your convenience, one of the main reasons they’ve made this change is to disassociate you from the fact you’re holding money. This is similar to what they do with chips on table games.
Psychological studies have proven that people are far more likely to gamble more with a ticket or chips, as opposed to cash. So don’t be fooled into placing your ticket into another slot on the way to cashing out, they’ve done this on purpose. I’d recommend that you always cash the tickets out for cash every time, instead of keeping it for play later.
11. Slot arms don’t exist as much anymore because they slow down play
Back in the day, pretty much every slot machine had an arm, or lever, that you pull to activate the spin. These days it’s much harder to find machines that have these.
While there are a few reasons for this, the main reason and the one the casinos don’t want you to know is because using a lever is much slower when compared to pressing a button. Casinos want you to be playing as quickly as possible when it comes to slots because the more you spin the more the odds move in their favor.
So by having buttons instead of levers the game moves a lot faster. Some may even say they’ve removed the lever so people don’t refer to slot machines as one-armed bandits anymore, but that may just be here-say.
12. Games are designed to be played as fast as possible
As we touched on in the previous secret, casinos want you to play whatever game you’re on as quickly as possible. While one of the main measurements on a slot is the time spent playing, they also want you to play as quickly as possible.
This increases the yield on the machine for the casino, meaning they make more money. Consider this, if you have a bank of widely popular slots which many people want to play, and it takes 20 seconds per spin, that’s quite a lot of time.
If a spin takes five seconds then you’re getting four times the amount of play on that machine which results in much more money passing through. So, all the time the casinos are trying to think of ways to make games happen much faster. They don’t want you playing slowly, so make sure you take your time next time you sit down at a slot. After all, the more time you play the more entertainment value you get.
13. Slot sounds and graphics are designed to make you feel happy
One thing that casinos certainly don’t want you to know about is the fact that slot machine manufacturers have teams of psychologists and researchers that provide advice on what sounds, colors, movements and graphics to use in games in order to make the player feel as happy as possible.
This is both good and bad. Firstly, it’s good if you’re playing for entertainment’s sake and know your limits when it comes to how much money you’re willing to play with. If this is the case then why not play a game that’s designed to make you feel happy.
Secondly, it’s bad when it comes to problem gamblers who don’t know when to stop and are chasing that happy feeling that the games give them. So this is a two-way street; that’s for sure. Casinos probably don’t want you to know this because it isn’t a great look.
14. Sometimes a win isn’t a win
One recent trend on slots is to play a jingle and show an animation showing that a player has had a win; this used to be a good thing and it meant you were making a profit, but not so much these days.
Much to the ire of lawmakers and the regulators, slot machines now play this jingle and imply a win, even when the spin results in less money won than you actually wagered on that spin in the first place. So this is essentially a loss and it’s trying to trick the player into thinking that they won.
Regulators are trying to have this outlawed but it will take some time. So, next time you’re playing don’t be fooled by the animation and sounds and the on-screen advice that says you’ve had a win. Make sure you check how much you ‘won’ when compared to how much you bet, before you celebrate.
15. Major progressive jackpots are played across multiple venues
Have you ever walked past a progressive jackpot slot machine and stared in awe at the huge jackpot which is currently available and is running into the millions of dollars?
If so, then you may not be aware that these slots are actually linked nationwide and the jackpot is played across thousands and thousands of machines and the casinos actually have no part in this prize.
Casinos don’t want you to know this of course; they want you to think that it’s just that machine so that you sit down and play and spin away thinking that you’re the only person who could possibly win that prize at that time.
These major progressive jackpot machines actually take a small cut from each bet you make and divert it to the major jackpot. So you should never play on one of these unless your ultimate goal is to win the life-changing money, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
Casinos are designed to make money just like any business. The slot machines are a big piece of the profit puzzle so the casinos do everything they can to make them more profitable.
Now that you know these 15 slot machine secrets the casinos don’t want you to know you can gamble as an informed player. If you love slots there’s no reason to stop playing, but you should know these secrets before you play again.
Return to player (RTP) is one of the most-important concepts to slots players. Payback determines how much the average player wins from a slot machine.
A slots game with 95% RTP, for example, would theoretically deliver $0.95 back for every $1 wagered. A slot machine with 88% payback would only offer $0.88 for each dollar wagered.
Gamblers want to know slots’ RTP for obvious reasons. Knowing a machine’s payout percentage provides an indication on your long-term odds of winning.
But one of the most-common fears is that casinos can simply change slots odds whenever they feel like it. Many gamblers are convinced that casinos alter RTP for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to lower payback during busy hours or simply earn more overall profits.
This fear seems valid when considering that players don’t see the inner workings of slot machines. But are casinos really able to alter payback on a whim?
I’m going to discuss this matter by looking at how casinos change RTP, common beliefs on the subject and casino limitations in controlling payback.
Slot machine RTP is determined by the pay table and how often each prize is programmed to hit.
The pay schedule shows how many credits each symbol combination delivers. The pay table only tells so much, though, and doesn’t show how often each payout is programmed hit.
Each symbol features a certain number of “stops,” which determine how often it’ll land on the reels. Low-paying icons are always programmed with more stops than high-paying symbols.This aspect makes perfect sense when considering that casinos would lose money if they showered you with the jackpot and other large payouts. Instead, games offer lots of smaller prizes and rarely pay the jackpot.
A random number generator (RNG) ultimately determines which symbol combinations come up on each spin. Contrary to common opinion, the RNG does not determine payback.
Instead, this program merely cycles through different symbol combinations to determine the results of your spin. The RNG is more likely to include symbols that have a higher number of stops.
An RNG has no recollection of what happens on your previous spins. Instead, its main job is to come up with random results.
Again, icons with many stops will be chosen by the RNG more frequently than other symbols.
Casinos don’t need to worry about programming payout percentages — this is the game developer’s job. Instead, they simply consider what RTP they want to order for a given game.
Providers give land-based casinos a number of options to choose from when ordering payback.
Here’s an example:
- MGM Grand wants to order Aristocrat’s Game of Thrones.
- Aristocrat offers RTP choices of 88.0%, 90.0%, 92.0%, and 94.0%.
- MGM selects the version with 92.0% payback.
Online slots developers usually offer a uniform RTP for any game that they produce. Internet casinos that license their slots are then forced to use the provider’s chosen payout percentage.
But a minority of online slots providers do let casinos choose from preset RTP amounts (covered later).
How casinos change payout percentages depends upon the style of game. Payback for most land-based slot machines is determined by the EPROM chip located inside.
A gambling establishment can alter a machine’s RTP as long as they have the EPROM chip, which is sometimes the case. Theoretically, any casino that has these chips can change payback whenever they like.
The catch, though, is that many gambling jurisdictions require the casinos to report when they alter a game’s RTP. This process requires that a casino manager spends time filling out paperwork.
Some slot machines operate on downloadable software, which comes from a central server. In these cases, the casino doesn’t have to open a game and change a chip.
Instead, they can simply download the software to alter RTP. But just as with replacing an EPROM chip, casinos need to follow their jurisdiction’s guidelines when changing server-based payout percentages.
For starters, gambling venues can’t make these changes when somebody is playing a machine. Furthermore, they have to wait a certain amount of time before altering any game settings.
What’s the Common Belief about Casinos Changing Slots Payback?
Some slots players believe that casino owners and management can change RTP across the board by simply flipping a switch. This theory has been furthered propelled bythe rise of video slots.
Very few land-based slot machines operate on mechanical reels and levers these days. Instead, casinos mainly feature video slots that run through software programs.
Of course, gamblers’ fears are only magnified when dealing with online casinos. These websites are headquartered far away from most players, leading to concerns that internet casinos can do anything they want to slots payback without anybody knowing.
But what else beyond suspected greed leads players to believe that casinos will cheat them through lower RTP?
A driving force behind conspiracy theories is how slot machines are the streakiest casino game. Most slots only see players win around 20-40% of their spins, even with every payline activated.
Such low hit frequency leads gamblers to experience long losing streaks. In turn, these cold streaks cause players to theorize that casinos have changed RTP.
What’s the Real Story Behind Casinos’ Ability to Alter RTP?
Contrary to what some players believe, casinos don’t simply alter payout percentages whenever they feel like winning more money. Instead, gambling venues must go through the proper channels.
Earlier I covered how many jurisdictions require casinos to submit paperwork before changing the EPROM chip inside a slot machine.
Not only does an important employee waste time filling out paperwork and sending it to the local gambling control commission, but the casino must also pay for another EPROM chip. These chips are expensive, meaning it’s not economically viable to continue changing RTP.
Of course, server-based slot machines can be altered faster without opening machines. But there are deterrents from doing this as well.
Some Las Vegas slot machines are so popular that they have people standing off to the side waiting to play. Therefore, casinos can’t change RTP for these games until things slow down in the middle of the night.
More importantly, gambling establishments don’t like tying up games and preventing people from playing. This creates another situation where it doesn’t make economic sense to put games down for maintenance just to constantly change payback.
Casino employees’ time is valuable, especially with regard to managers. It would be a waste of resources and manpower to alter RTP from machine to machine.
Of course, none of this subsides fears that online casinos can change payout percentages as they please. But gaming sites face roadblocks in this regard too.
In fewer cases, online casinos can choose from different RTP options just like land-based establishments. Realtime Gaming (RTG) commonly does this by offering their clients payout percentages ranging from 91.0% to 97.5%.
Casinos must decide on the chosen payback when ordering a certain game. They can’t, however, ask RTG to change payout percentages back and forth every day.
RTG allows gaming sites to choose from different payout percentages due to the various bonuses offered through their software setup. RTG offers total casino packages where they handle the bonuses, games, and more. Clients have some flexibility here and can either choose high bonuses with low slots RTP or vice versa.
In any case, you can see that there’s nothing nefarious going on with the average online casino and game provider. This is especially true when considering that many slots developers and casinos undergo third-party auditing to ensure that their games offer fair and random results.
Is there Any Truth to the Idea That Casinos Can Change Payback with a Switch?
Earlier I mentioned how some players believe that casinos can merely flip a switch to change all of their slot machines’ RTP.
I dismiss this idea, because casinos need to go through the proper channels to change payback. But is there any shred of truth to the switch-flipping concept?
A 2006 New York Times piece offers evidence that it’s possible for casinos to quickly change RTP for many different games.
This article revolves around a Treasure Island casino executive named Justin Beltram, who discusses how his casino was undergoing a technology experiment at the time.
The piece reads that “with a few clicks of his mouse” Beltram can reprogram the “denominations required to play, payback percentages, even game themes” for all of Treasure Island’s 1,790 slot machines.
Much of the article deals with how easy it is to change settings in server-based slots versus the EPROM-chip games. Beltram notes that he could change a game’s settings within “20 seconds” using this technology, compared to the lengthy and complicated process of opening machines to alter settings.
The executive also squashed the notion that his casino would abuse this power to win more money from players. Beltram insists that such practices would be bad for business and possibly lead to trouble with gaming regulators.
David G. Schwartz, director for UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, did express concerns about casinos changing payback through servers. “Let’s say you’re playing at 2 and you’re doing great and you come back at 6 and the pay tables have changed,” explains Schwartz.
While this is a valid concern, lowering odds and causing players to lose more is counterproductive to business. Nobody wants to play at a casino where they think that the odds are stacked against them.
Beltram notes that the goal of server-based slot machines is all about quickly catering to players’ demands. He told a story about a high roller who wanted to play a $25 Double Diamond machine. This game didn’t have server technology, forcing Treasure Island to order the chip from IGT and quickly replace the coin denomination before the high roller could begin playing.
Overall, the article suggests that while it’s possible for casinos to quickly change slots payback with server technology, this concept is more about meeting customer demands than anything.
Long story short, casino managers don’t have time to sit in their back office and switch RTP every time that they see somebody winning. Casinos already have the edge over players, and it’s not worth the time or repercussions to con gamblers.
The thought that casinos instantaneously change all of their slots payback is only one misbelief regarding the subject. Here are a few more myths surrounding how casinos handle slots RTP.
Slots Payback Happens on a Cycle
Some gamblers are convinced that slots payout percentages happen on a cycle. This idea stems from the belief that slot machines are programmed to offer payouts at specific intervals.
Here’s an example of how one might conceptualize this:
- Jackpot pays exactly once every 1 million spins.
- 1,000-coin prize pays every 250,000 spins.
- 500-coin prize pays every 50,000 spins.
- 100-coin prize pays every 10,000 spins.
- 50-coin prize pays every 5,000 spins.
- 5-coin prize pays every 50 spins.
- 1-coin prize pays every 10 spins.
Players who believe that slot machines work like this often think that they can win a jackpot by playing at the right point. They look for a jackpot that hasn’t been won in a while and start playing in hopes that the game is nearing the end of its payout cycle.
But slots results are determined by an RNG, which has no recollection of previous payouts and merely continues generating random results.
Jackpots and other payouts are programmed with specific odds. Certain jackpots may very well be programmed to pay every 1 million spins on average.
But the key is that this prize doesn’t have to pay out after exactly 1 million rounds. Instead, the jackpot can hit at 500k spins or 2 million spins.
Casinos Change RTP during the Day and Night
Another common slots myth is that casinos alter payout percentages throughout the day. This theory is based on the logic that slot machines are more generous during the less-busy day hours and tighter during the busier evening hours.
It makes sense to believe that casinos would tighten payback when they have more slots customers. Doing so would enable them to earn far more profits.
If a slot has a 5% house edge, this means that casinos are winning a nickel for every dollar wagered by players. Assuming a gambler bets $600 per hour, the casino is making $30 on average (600 x 0.05).
The last thing a gambling establishment wants to do is lower payback and discourage people from playing during busy hours.
Many gamblers already become suspicious that payback has changed when they go through cold streaks. Casinos don’t want to add fuel to this fire by actually altering RTP just to increase an advantage that they already have.
Native American Casinos can Do Whatever They Want
I’ve covered the limitations facing gaming sites and commercial land-based casinos when altering slots payout percentages. But what about Native American casinos?
Can Casinos Control Your Winnings Cash
Some slots players believe that US tribal casinos can do whatever they want, because they’re located on sovereign ground. The reality, though, is that Native American casinos don’t have as much free rein as people think.
These casinos must comply with gambling regulations set forth by the tribe’s gambling commission. These standards are defined by negotiations between tribes and the state where they’re located.
Once the state and tribe come to an agreement, the pact must be approved by the US Department of the Interior.
Contrary to some players’ opinions, Native American gambling venues don’t make rules as they go and change slots payback whenever. Instead, they too have regulations that are discussed and approved by multiple parties.
Many gamblers picture casinos fiendishly lowering slots RTP to maximize their profits. But these theories are the result of misunderstandings about how the gambling industry works.
Most land-based and online casinos operate in jurisdictions that impose restrictions on alerting payout percentages. Some jurisdictions go as far as to require paperwork every time that casinos want to change RTP.
In other cases, gambling venues can quickly change payback through server technology. Even this comes with restrictions, though, including a machine being down while the casino changes payback.
You can generally assume that most land-based slot machines offer anywhere from 88% to 95% RTP. Penny and nickel slots comprise the lower end, while quarter denominations and above constitute the higher end.
Online slots usually deliver between 95% and 97% payback. You can google individual slots or game providers to research online payout percentages.
You have little reason to fear casinos lowering RTP to a ridiculously small percentage. They have too much at stake if they’re caught, and gambling jurisdictions have rules against doing so.