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Slot Machine Q & A / FAQ

We receive emails daily asking questions about slot machines. When it makes sense we create an article to tackle a question in-depth. When it doesn’t we list and answer them on this page. You’ll find more than 20 slot related questions and answers below.

What Kind of Questions Do You Accept?

Any! We generally stick to answers about real live games, but do accept the odd online question.

The list below is only a small sampling, but it does reflect some of the more popular questions readers have submitted. This includes questions relating to payback percentages, RNG, where and how to purchase a used slot machine, cheating and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gambling on a slot machine really random?

Yes. Both virtual and physical slot machines use a random number generator (RNG). This is a computer-run program or algorithm that randomly chooses numbers. Each number is connected to a symbol. When that number / symbol is chosen, it (the reel) stops. [1]

There is no such thing as a slot machine being due to hit or having a payout cycle. There might be exceptions, but not at a legit casino. Casinos wouldn’t want that anyway – they make the most money when games are entirely random with no element of skill involved.

Can and do casinos change the payout on slot machines?

Based on my research that varies on the casino, jurisdiction, type of machine, etc. With the machine it sounds as simple as changing the weight on the reels or swapping out a chip. In one of these cases the casino could alter the payout. However, if the casinos do there is paperwork involved, which includes reporting the changes to gaming authorities. [2]

It used to be that the machines return percentage was set at the factory. It sounds like that’s not the case anymore, at least not any more than the weights and/or chips I mentioned above.

What is the difference between a class 2 and class 3 slot?

The key difference between the two classes is that a class 2 slot machine is connected to a centralized computer system that determines the outcome of each wager. Class 3 slot machines are considered traditional slots, like those you’d see in Las Vegas. They’re played and pay out independent from a computer system, and the player’s chances of winning are the same each spin.

Each state will have regulations that determine what class of slot machines casinos or other establishments are allowed to use. [3]

Do UK fruit slots follow the same payouts as American slots?

No. This excerpt from the Daily Mail says it all:

In the UK, manufacturers claim most machines are set at 95 per cent but many pay out less - as low as 70 per cent in certain pubs and at motorway service stations, where the odds are worst of all; the transient clientele will not be around long enough to realise what an ungenerous fellow their fruit machine is.

A row of them in the corner of a UK pub will often make a landlord more money than the beer sales. In the US, games must pay out no less than 75 per cent by law. In the UK, there is no minimum payout; simply an obligation to print somewhere the payout percentage. [4]

Is there a secret to winning jackpots?

No. See question #1. Slot machines are random, controlled by a random number generator (RNG). No matter what ‘experts’ or ebooks tell you, there is nothing you can do to control the outcome of a slot machine.

Is it legal or illegal to own a slot machine in the US?

That depends on the state. In some states it’s illegal, while others there are rules as to the machine (year, make, model, etc) you’re allowed to have and how it’s used.

Which slot machines have better odds?

According to the Wizard of Odds, the simpler machines have the best odds. According to his research playing in $25 denominations have the lowest casino win (highest return to players). That’s over the long run though, and doesn’t mean that playing in $25 denominations will pay any better than $10 or $.01 during your visit.

What is the highest denomination of slot machine?

Based on my research $1,000. Keep in mind that this is $1,000 per credit.

Which casinos still have coin operated machines?

Eastside Cannery on Boulder Highway in Las Vegas have machines from the 80s and 90s that payout in nickels and quarters. [5]

That’s just one example. To find more I recommend doing a Google search for ‘coin operated machines.’

Are slots a stupid thing to play at casinos?

Depends. What is your plan, to make a profit or to have a good time? If you plan to make a profit then I would say yes. If you’re playing slots to have a good time (and you’re well aware that it’s pure luck) then not at all.

How do you win at slots in Las Vegas?

By getting lucky.

Other than that you’re destined to lose, since all machines are set to payout between 75-99 percent. That still leaves 1-25 percent profit for the casinos.

Is there a ‘best’ time of the day to play slot machines?

No. The payouts for slot machines are the same, regardless of the time of the day.

Can you play slots for real money on your iphone?

Yes. Many casinos offer mobile slots. One example is Drake. Another is Win Palace. We have a page explaining iOS slots here.

How do you use a slot machine?

Each machine will be different, but the general process will go like this:

  • You deposit your coins or voucher.
  • If you have a VIP card, you stick that into the machine.
  • Choose how many credits / lines you want to play.
  • Hit spin or pull the handle.
  • Win?

Online the process will be the same, except every action will be by pointing and clicking with your mouse.

Depending on the machine you’re playing on there might be mini games. You might be asked to choose icons, steer a car or hit spin again.

What are slot machines?

A slot machine is machine with 3 or more reels that spin when a button is pushed. Players start the process by inserting coins, cash, tickets, vouchers, etc. into the machine and then pressing a button or pulling a handle. The objective of slot machines is to win money by matching symbols on each reel to create a (winning) combination.

Can you cheat the RNG on slot machines?

No. Even if you could – and assuming you got away with it – it would mean jail (prison) time.

Does the amount of money I deposit influence the slot machine in any way?

I answered this question above. The different denominations can have different payout percentages. Based on the chart he provided, betting in increments of $25 provided the highest payout percentage to players (at about 96%). But like I said above, this percentage is based on the long term and is not indicative of what you will earn over an afternoon or weekend session.

How can I build a slot machine?

That depends. One question that comes to mind is, do you want to build a physical slot machine or virtual machine that you play on your computer or phone? And what type of slot machine do you want to make?

If you want to create a basic iphone app, you can go to Udemy and learn how in under 3 hours (according to their description). [6]

If you want to build a real slot machine, one that you could keep and use in your own home, you’ll need a number of parts and tools, and software if you want to build a video slot machine. For that I recommend contacting slot machine manufacturers for parts and guidance.

Can a blind person play at a slot machine?

Sure, but without someone helping them playing at a standard machine would be difficult. They’d be at risk for being taken advantage of too.

That said, in 1995 Edward B. Kaplan patented the idea for a slot machine with Braille. [7] The machine would vibrate if the player won and would payout when a player pressed the payout button (to lessen the chances of theft). [8]

I’ve not seen a Braille slot machine though, on Google or in a casino. So I’m not sure the machine exists (yet).

Are slot machines in Nevada looser than the ones in California?

The slot machines have to payout a percentage, which is based on a range provided by each individual state and federal guidelines.

That said, California does not have to meet a minimum payback percentage, nor do they reveal the percentages they do pay back. In Nevada you’ll see as much as 99% paid back to players, which depends on where you play (the strip in Vegas is considered the tightest at about 94%).

Is there a Tomb Raider Slot machine?

Yes. Microgaming casinos have Tomb Raider slot machines.

What does volatility mean when talking about slot machines?

It refers to how often and how much you win during your sessions. Low volatility machines will pay out more often, but the payouts will be small (more often than not). Higher volatility slots pay out less often, but the high volatile slot machines payouts are bigger.

How do you reset slot machines?

There is a key that you need to insert and turn (in the reset key slot). That should reset the machine. However, the process may be different from machine to machine.

If slot machines are random, how can casinos guarantee how much they payback?

The machines aren’t programmed to pay back a certain percentage. Instead, the reels are weighted so that the ‘theoretical return’ pays back whatever the casino wants in the long term.

Why are slot machines so addictive?

That depends. Gambling in general can be addictive. The thought of winning life changing money is motivating, as is chasing losses.

For others it’s about the games, bonus rounds, lights and sounds. The experience.

What is the relation between slot machines and the number 7?

7 is considered a superstitious number and the casinos use that to their advantage.

Why do professional gamblers avoid slot machines?

Professional gamblers have to make a living (otherwise they wouldn’t be professionals). Since slots are 100% luck, there’s no way they can guarantee they’ll win anything, let alone enough to make a living.

How do I pick a slot machine in a Las Vegas casino?

Pick a slot machine that looks fun. When I got to Las Vegas I play the video slots that have bonus rounds, like the Quick Hit Slots (with the wife) or the Dark Knight. I prefer these because they’re more like video games. I remember the movies too, so the different icons and bonus rounds make sense.

Who made the first slot machine?

According to Wikipedia the first slot machine was created by Charles Fey. His machine was created either in 1887 or 1895, and it has five symbols – horseshoes, diamonds, spades, hearts and a liberty bell. The machine was known as Liberty Bell. [9]

Where can I buy a used or refurbished slot machine?

There are a number of companies that sell refurbished slot machines. Rocky Mountain Slots is one. Another is London Bridge Slots and Slot Machines Ltd. You should be able to find each company by performing a search on Google.

What is the profit margin for owners of slot machines?

Over the ‘long run’ the profit margin is between 1-25%. That’s based on the payback percentage that the casinos set the machines to. However, that doesn’t take into account overhead, employees, servers, VIPs, etc.
The margins can’t be bad though. Based on my research one casino in Las Vegas has an average ‘money in’ of $220 per machine.

Sources for this article

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