Can Casinos Control Slot Machine Payouts?

  • Updated
  • By Katie Thompson
casinos control slot machine payouts

With modern slot machine technology now relying on computer generated outcomes, it’s very easy for players to assume that the casino has all the power when it comes to winning.

However, though it is said that “the house always wins”, this is in itself a myth, and it’s been proven by science.

How slot machines distribute your winnings

Your chances of winning are affected by a lot of different factors, but the big guys in the head office of the casino are not one of them! 

Certainly, if a casino has reason to suspect that a player may be behaving inappropriately, for example by counting cards, then they have a right to eject them – but slot machine odds cannot be turned on and off with the flick of a switch.

Many players theorise that slot machines have “hot” and “cold” periods, but again, this is all theory. The outcomes of slot machines are entirely random, so while it might feel like you’re in for a win if you’ve been playing for hours, it’s really no more likely than if you’d been playing for 10 minutes.

Random number generators

The reason for this is random number generators. Slot machines use random number generated technology to randomly display up to two billion different outcomes on every game, and these do not depend on the outcomes of any previous games.

Today’s random number generators are all computer generated, with land-based casinos favouring the slightly older hardware number generator technology. 

This uses an external device to generate outcomes, whereas newer technology such as pseudorandom generators generates numbers by adding, multiplying, subtracting or dividing from previous numbers.

Reels and par sheets

The amount of reels is more likely to have an effect on your winnings than the casino operators. In land-based casinos, reels can come in sets of three or five, which in turn affects the probability of symbols matching up – the less likely the probability of a matching combo, the higher the payout.

All symbols are given their own individual “weighting” – if they are a bonus symbol, for example, then they will be given less weighting than others, as their payouts are higher.

The weighting of each symbol is pre-programmed, so it cannot be changed, and naturally, it makes sense for rarer symbols to offer much less favourable odds as their prize values can be very high.

The weight is determined by a “par sheet” which sets the odds and is controlled by the operators. Again, this cannot be changed easily, and there is always a weighting in favour of the operators, but it is fun to try!

The exception to the rule

Technically speaking, casino operators could change the odds on their slot machines, but they would have little reason for doing so. This could deter players from playing if the odds worsen, and they would also need permission from the relevant gambling authorities in their region.

In sum, there’s nothing sinister involved – it’s all a game of chance.