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Slot Machine Payouts Are Not Random - Here's Why

Published: 2014-03-11 - Updated: 2022-06-13
Author: Jungle Jim | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)

Synopsis: Are slots really random? Explanation on why slot machines are not quite as random as both land based and online casinos say they are. Playing slots, pokies, fruit machines, one arm-bandits, poker machines, whatever you like to call them, depending on where you come from, is a popular pastime for many seniors and retired singles and couples. But, are slot machine payouts really random? Are all slot machines rigged as to when they will pay out to the player?

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Main Digest

Slot Machine
A slot machine (American), fruit machine (British), or poker machine (Australia and New Zealand) is a coin-operated gaming machine that generates random combinations of symbols on a dial, certain combinations winning varying amounts of money for the player. Slot machines are also known pejoratively as one-armed bandits because of the large mechanical levers affixed to the sides of early mechanical machines.

Please note that the article below is my opinion only, from what I have experienced from playing slots, both at land based casinos, and several different popular online casinos - all of which shall remain nameless.

Other Accessible Games and Gaming Publications (71)

Playing slots, pokies, fruit machines, one arm-bandits, poker machines, whatever you like to call them, depending on where you come from, is a popular pastime for many seniors and retired singles and couples.

Bonanza slot game.
Bonanza slot game.

Are Slots Really Random?

What Casinos and Slot Machine Technicians Will Tell You:

Online casino slot games are said to use the same kinds of random number generator programs as land-based casinos. They just serve up your results via animation that is sent to your computer via the Internet.

Casinos will often tell you that slot machines use a computer to generate random numbers, and these determine the outcomes of the game. When players press the "Play" button, the machines' computer generates what is known as an RNG, a gaming term that is an abbreviation for "random number generator". Random number generators (or pseudorandom number generators) are special algorithms that are used in computing when an outcome needs to be as random as possible.

Slot machines often display a series of spins where players appear to be only one symbol away from a win, therefore leading them to falsely believe that they almost won. Slot games do not work on any kind of cyclical basis - and slot machine jackpots don't become due.

I call BS! - Why I Believe Slot Machine Games are Not Random

Slots are not random, and I will never be convinced otherwise, I have been playing slots for many years and seen so many examples of them being NOT random, making it incredibly difficult to believe that slot machines are totally random, here's why:

On some progressive jackpots linked to a bank of slot machines, the jackpot has to be won before a certain amount of money is reached. Now, if this is the case, how are they REALLY random if they have to hit before the jackpot reaches a certain amount? Completely random means they can hit at ANY time. If they have to hit by a certain amount, they have to be programmed to do that.

I was once asked in an "anonymous" online casino survey, "If I felt like I received enough playing time for the amount of money fed to the slot machine!" Now, why ask something like that if it is beyond their control to "adjust the settings"? Was it because if a player was losing their money too quickly - resulting in a shorter machine play time - then the machine would "compensate" by paying out more before the end of the playing time? This time of play adjustment would then allow casino patrons, both on and offline, to "feel" they had value for money due to the adjusted extension of playing time on the machine.

Cleopatra slots
Cleopatra slots

Losing on One Machine - You'll be Losing on All Machines!

What I don't get, if you have a win on one particular slot game and then move onto several others, they will all be dead. For every win, I have had I then lose constantly until the money I won and some has been played back, regardless of what slot I play before I even begin to get above my deposit back again - it is the same pattern each time and that does not appear random to me. It's as if all the online slot machines are linked to a central computer - For example: If you are continually losing, when playing online slots, switching to another slot game doesn't matter as all the games you try, do not pay out as well. The only so-called random thing is if your player's account has been deemed worthy of a win for a change. It would be straightforward, and fast being a computer, for a "central computer" to check the deposits, as well as wins and losses, your account has had over a certain amount of time and money deposited. Your account is then compensated for the losses with smaller, or medium amount, wins that will always see you losing over the long term.

Have You Noticed...

Have you ever noticed that you miss out on a good winning combination because just one reel wasn't in the right position? Then lo-and-behold on the very next spin the symbol you needed is right where you needed it to be on the previous spin! Random? Nah! Teaser? Yes!

When in a bonus game and, for example, you have to select 3 symbols from a group of symbols to reveal the bonus money, number of free spins, or number of free spins and the winning combination multiplier factor, "beneath" the symbols. Once you have made your choices and the selections are revealed, all the other symbols may be revealed as well - often with a better option than the ones you picked. Rest assured that had you picked the "better options" you would still have made the same choices - So it's no use saying, "If only I had picked that symbol..." As you don't know what's "under" any symbol at the start of the bonus pick, the computer can, and does, calculate the amount of free spins etc. it is going to give you, and then reveals whatever it wants to "under" those symbols you both did and didn't choose. Nothing is actually ever "under" those symbols to pick from, the machine simply changes the icon picture to whatever its current calculation amount tells it to reward you.

Have you also noticed that after a modest win, or payout, assuming you keep playing the same slot machine, it almost seems the game NEEDS to win that payout back before giving you another, albeit smaller payout.

Have you ever been playing the slot machines, at for example $1 a spin, and you get a reasonable size payout win and wish you had bet $5 like you were a few minutes ago? Well, rest assured had you been betting $5 a spin the win would not have been 5 times as much as your $1 spin - the machine would not have been "ready" to pay out that amount at that time.

In my experience, it seems quite obvious that slot machines have to have some sort of computer coded system at play to ensure you can't win over and over again - Which is why when you do win big, it is always followed by a long cold losing streak.

When a bonus round occurs, it ALWAYS seems the bonus round happens 2 or 3 more times in a short period after the first bonus round, then no bonuses for ages - and lots of cash gone.

Also, in my experience, any big wins I've had in the past have come when I've spent a small fortune on that particular slot - almost as if the slot is forced to bring you back in line with the payout figure percentage rules.

Left to right paying slot machines are designed, so high-paying symbols are frequently on the 1st reel, slightly less frequent on the 2nd reel, less again on the 3rd reel, less yet on the 4th reel, and very rarely on the last reel. It is another trick by slot manufacturer's to give you the feeling of possibly winning and missing out on the last couple of reels.

The online casino wants to keep you as a player - when playing you may seldom get any wins - then when you are near your last money in the machine you receive a moderate win - just enough to make you come back to that casino for more.

I've played them long enough to believe that they're not random, but as I said, it's my opinion from my personal observations, and you're entitled to yours. Next time you are playing slots, stop and wonder why those top slot symbols and/or scatters mysteriously vanish after a while - short-term random, sure - long-term random, not so much...

Screenshot of the Mad Mad Monkey online slot game.
Screenshot of the Mad Mad Monkey online slot game.

Feedback on This Article

1: A Mathematician Agrees

Recently, Disabled World received an email from Dave M. stating his opinion. With his permission, we have added the content of his email below:

Hi, I have just been reading an article by Jungle Jim on slot machines that was posted on your site, which was very illuminating, and everything he says seems quite accurate. Although the article is from a few years ago, I found the contents gave quite a representative appraisal on online slot machines and land-based slot machines.

My area of interest, however, is the online slot machines.

Over the past few months I have been conducting my research, being a mathematician I was interested in finding out if these forms of gambling were, in fact, random number generated as the major casino's, bingo halls and other gambling establishments claim them to be.

Firstly, I played an online popular slot machine after joining a popular bingo hall and online company. And low and behold after depositing a modest sum had a virtually immediate win followed by subsequent wins giving me a substantial reward on my investment.

Then as if a button had been pressed to say OK this person has won enough and is now "hooked" when trying other slot games those wins accrued from a previous slot game were starting to be eroded quite rapidly with a succession of totally win free blank spells apart from very low denomination pay-outs.

So, before the "winning pot" had been exhausted, I returned to the original slot game to try again after a day or two. And low and behold it subsequently eroded the rest of the winnings paying absolutely nothing in the way of substantial wins, only small denominations until it was all gone, this in my opinion is a very systematically heavily controlled form of gambling which also in my opinion is not random at all.

I went on for the next several weeks to play and document all the wins and losses from some free game plays to see if there was any difference between them and the paying games, and over a period of time playing the free games found that these games always paid substantial wins consistently.

However, in between when switching back to the paying money slot games it was always whittling whatever I deposited away, without any substantial wins whatsoever. This I documented and found over a period of time that the wins I initially procured were taken back threefold.

So my research has concluded and justifiably concurred with Jungle Jim's opinions that online slot machines are not random number generators at all and are in my opinion being governed by the operators and companies that are running them.

2: RNG is NOT RNG

It seems there are many people out there who agree completely with the article above. Here is one such email, (permission was obtained to include it on this page), from Lewis T. who wrote in under the heading "RNG is NOT RNG..."

Hi, I'm a fellow slot machine player at a few of my neighboring casinos and way before I came across your post, I noticed those patterns, and it wasn't just with slot machines but also with Roulette when I saw the momentum of the ball slow down, rest in one spot, then started vibrating extremely, then rolled around the metal ring and land in another pocket. From that point on, I stayed away from roulette and would always watch closely as to how the ball would do the things it would do - yet no one would notice it but me!

As for the slot machines, I would take videos of how the reels would go into hyper-speed all to avoid the bonus symbol it would, and/or should, have landed on. All the casino games are supposed to be regulated, but who can you really trust them when money runs the world and the gaming commission is getting their pockets loaded by the casinos that are supposed to be operating fair games.

These places have an operations room that allows them to control the winnings and the losings, from the games all the way to the rewards cards they persuade you to sign up for, all for them to regulate you even further.

It has been too many times that I've sat down, inserted my rewards card, inserted my hard-earned money and played until I exhausted my $100 in the machine. Then I would sit and watch someone sit right down behind me and play the same game and hit so many bonuses RIGHT AFTER I FINISHED PLAYING! And it wouldn't be just one instance.

The way my mind works, I can focus on the whole game verses just focusing on one reel and see the rhythm on wins and loses, and this is just from me!

How are these establishments, the gaming commission, and all the other "gaming regulators" able to get away with preying on people and get away with it???

3: Slot Games are Not Random at All

John V. wrote into Disabled World to give his opinion on the unfairness of slot payouts:

The opinions of Jungle Jim to me are what I have been saying all along as well. The games are not random at all, to me, the one thing I notice most is 100% of the time you get free spins or a bonus on one game, win some money, then guaranteed after if you keep playing that game you will not get another free spin or bonuses for a long period of time.

What I do is if I get free spins or a bonus I will spin maybe a couple of times after knowing I will get nothing, then I will change games right away. You have to be very focused when playing and be very patient. When you have low balance bet small as you have to slowly build up your balance, then when you get to around 200 I would say you can start playing the jackpot games, bet more per spin on regular slots etc.

They are definitely not random they try to brainwash you and tell you they are, but when you're an experienced player like myself you play a game for a while give it a chance don't go in thinking I will play until I get free spins or a bonus you could lose a lot of money thinking that. Just play 20 spins or so if there's nothing, then move on don't get lazy and stick with the one game, be focused take your time if you feel like you're getting very frustrated and angry turn the casino off take a break if you don't you will lose it all within minutes.

It's a game between you and the casino. You can win once in a while, but don't go in expecting to win and wonder why a game paid out so well yesterday and today there is nothing at all. Emotions are key, be relaxed, be alert, and take your time be smart, and you have a good Chance in winning. I have done it 7 times. I have withdrawn money in the last few months, that's pretty good, so it can be done. Good luck to you all.

4: It Depends on Where You Live

Mr. B. contacted Disabled World to add his perspective to the article

I know it's hard to believe, but in the USA, slots really are random, as they are required to be by law. They sure don't seem like that. but given true randomness, improbably stuff can and does happen. If it's NOT happening, then this is actually evidence of cheating. Probabilities are very unintuitive, which is how casinos stay in business. :)

And while the explanation is simplified, that's really how they calculate return to player (the percentage). But that percentage is over the long haul. in the short term, they can vary widely because of luck. Those AGS Must Hits essentially use a weighted reel to determine when they hit, and it's extremely heavily weighted to the end of the climb. I think it's pretty sleazy of them...

It Depends on Where You Live

For the USA, the following is true:

1) Slots are random. All spins are independent, with ONE exception. That is "must hits", discussed below.

2) The percentage they are set at is theoretical. This is due to US laws on how slots must work. They are not allowed to block the jackpot until they can afford it. Additionally, representation of real games (dice, roulette, black jack, poker, etc. MUST legally have the same odds as the real thing. Slot machines, for the most part, are not allowed by US law to cheat. Virtual reels are not cheating.

The percentage is worked out by calculating each possible spin on the virtual reels, which are all equally likely, and comparing money in vs money out to make each of those spins. over time, it will tend to the calculated percentage. The casino simply has enough of a bankroll to ride the variance out, and that's how they profit.

Must-hit progressives are different.

Here's how they are supposed to work. A number is rolled fairly between the minimum and maximum value for the jackpot. once it rises to the number rolled (which is hidden from the player) the next spin is rigged to pay off the jackpot. So, it's still random and fair, just differently.

AGS machines (river dragons, etc.) do cheat with their must hits, though. The jackpot seldom hits before 10 dollars from the maximum, though it CAN happen (and must legally be possible).

There is no such thing as a streak. It's just confirmation bias.

This does NOT apply in, say, the United Kingdom.

Pretty much every myth about US slots is true of UK fruit machines.

They DO actively seek their percentage. So, they are foolproof in a way that US slots are not. No matter how lucky or skilled the player is, the operator has guaranteed profit. You can only win because others have lost to pay for it.

They ARE often programmed to streak intentionally because it's the only way they can give out large jackpots. They set aside a percentage of their take, and when the "rave bank" is full, they then start cheating in your favor to pay it all back out fast.

They can tweak the odds depending on how much they have paid out vs how much they have taken in. Occasionally, they literally predetermine everything... If players do poorly, and it dips too far below percentage, they will outright force wins on you, and give you an invincible board where you can't lose and can safely play for the jackpot repeater. After taking about 60 dollars out of a machine from a streak, it then will more often than not go ice-cold, sucking your money in and not even letting you on the board at all, or killing you on your first roll with unbelievably bad "luck", usually putting you right on the damn mystery square and rigging it to kill you.

Club machines will literally block the jackpot if there aren't enough coins in the machine to pay it out. A machine that has its payout tubes full diverts all incoming coins to the cash box. This is called "backing". Every coin that goes back to the cash box is pure profit. The machine will not give it back, ever. The odds of getting that 250 dollar jackpot is 0% unless the machine is backing.

It really feels like you are fighting against a machine like that, and that it's fighting back. You can get nudges, but it's usually 1 less than you actually need. You can almost feel the game going "neener neener" at you. It can do a high-low where you have to guess if the next roll will be higher or lower. but if the game doesn't want you to go on, it will pick a higher number if you say low, and a lower number if you say high. Even if it's a 2 or an 11 showing. Proven.

Sometimes you are offered holds, which in theory increases your chances. If you are offered hold 3 times in a row, nearly all games will spin in the win next spin if you press the hold buttons a third time. Except that said win is usually less than the cost of the four plays it took to get it. But hey, at least you can gamble for a chance to get on the board. and then get killed off at the first mystery square, you try to hold 2 red sevens? Most likely, it will only offer holds twice, and you missed out on two possible minor wins. Of course, if you DON'T hold when offered, it will taunt you by spinning in the third seven on purpose. Rewind in your emulator and hold after all? It won't show.

Japan has a different system. their slots have skill stop buttons. The reels may spin no faster than 80 rpm, and the reels must stop within 190 ms of pressing the button. This means that they can (and do) slip up to three symbols to cheat you out of your skill stopped win. Not that there are three symbols visible at once for each reel. But they can also cheat in your favor, by helping you win when they can afford it. In fact, they MUST spin in a big bonus within say 2000 spins, so if people keep missing it, eventually it will be forced in. Depending on settings, if you are skilled enough, and/or have enough bankroll, you can actually win consistently. And if someone has just lost a ton on one of them, you can swoop in and clean up if you are skilled.

5: Online Caribbean Poker

Ian wrote to Disabled World to tell us of his experience playing online Caribbean Poker.

"About ten years ago, I was playing online poker when the dealer dealt me 5 cards. I had a pair of kings; king of clubs and king of spades. Lo and behold, the dealer also had a king of spades. I immediately took a screenshot and emailed the online casino to prove to them that they were cheating. I got an email back from the manager, who accused me of fabricating the shot. After much to-ing and fro-ing of emails they decided to offer me £1000 to keep quiet. Needless to say, I have never played online poker again."

Let's Keep the Discussion Going!

So, are slots really random? What do you think? Can you add to the above lists on how you think slot machines may be cheating? If so, contact us, as we'd be interested in more opinions.

It has been said; Slot players don't lose because they never win, they lose because they don't quit when they're ahead...

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Cite This Page (APA): Jungle Jim. (2014, March 11). Slot Machine Payouts Are Not Random - Here's Why. Disabled World. Retrieved June 28, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/entertainment/games/rnd.php

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