Slot machines and slots games are, without a doubt, one of the most popular types of games to play, whether you’re doing so at an online casino or a land-based venue. A lot of that popularity is down to the fact that they’re quite simple to understand and play and offer highly entertaining themes and special features to experience. With that being the case, people keep coming back to spin their reels and try to get a winning combination on them. But is it possible that these slot games are controllable by the casinos that they’re available at?
With regard to online slots, it would be very easy to think that the random number generator outcomes aren’t all that random, and that the casino has all the power when it comes to providing winning payouts. And while the phrase “the house always wins” may be lingering in your mind, the house can’t always win because nobody would ever play casino games ever again. In short, there has to be fair payouts from the games, including slots. But how much control over the actual payouts and when they hit does an online casino have?
And what about their offline counterparts? Do they have control over the physical machines that exist on their floors? Obviously, these machines (like the online slots) are created with an idea of making the casinos themselves money, so there will be a certain level of control over how they operate. But there are regulations and rules that these games need to fall into, so they can’t manipulate the outcome of every spin. Let’s take a closer look at exactly how casinos have the possibility of controlling slots.
A Bit of Legal Information
To be able to figure out who or what exactly controls the slot machine odds, it is vital to get a bit of background on the legal requirements and history of these odds. Random number generators (RNGs) are utilised in all types of slot game, both online and offline. Many people believe that the odds are set on a slot machine through the RNGs, but that is not actually true.
If you take a look back in time to around 2008, there was a big shift in how the settings of slot machines were incorporated. Because of newer gaming technologies coming to light at that time, which affected both the creation of slots and the development of the operating systems used at casinos, it was a necessity to introduce alterations. Both of them were allowing casinos to operate at an increased efficiency level, and at the same time, with lower operating costs.
More and more people were visiting casinos by that time too, and because the profit margins of the businesses were getting smaller, the operators needed something to be able to afford the continuation of operations. That’s where the new gaming technologies came into effect. Of course, different jurisdictions also have different regulations when it comes to gambling, with the laws in the United Kingdom being highly different to those in the United States, for example. Gambling operators need to adhere to the regulations of the locations they are operating in. Different jurisdictions will have laws that place an upper and lower limit on the payouts from slot machines.
The rules and regulations do not dictate which machines the casino can incorporate into them, though. Each casino operator will choose how many slots they want in their lobbies and which providers they want to work with for such. Now, this does mean that they have the ability to push their favoured games, meaning that the ones with higher RTP rates are not often driven as much as those that favour the house more. And while this does not specifically relate to controlling the games themselves, it may instead be a way for them to influence your decision on which slots you play. And as a result, you are more likely to be accessing those that lean in favour of the house more with their return to player rates.
Can Casinos Actually Manipulate Slot Games?
The short answer to this question is that yes, they can manipulate them. Yet it would be more appropriate to ask if they do manipulate them. At a physical casino, it is possible for an owner to increase or decrease the RTP for a slot machine. But this is not something that is a legal activity in many areas. Let’s say for a moment that it was a legal route to take though, and the casino owner temporarily opts to increase the payouts of its new slot machines. They may do this to promote the inclusion of the new slot machine, bringing more people in to play it because it seems to be paying out more often.
It was also previously a common tactic for some of the biggest casinos to set machines to provide higher payouts in high-visibility areas. The idea behind this was that the more that people see big winners, the more they are encouraged to play the games themselves. It was quite the deceptive practice to undertake, but modern-day regulations have pretty much omitted this activity.
In most jurisdictions, it is very much against the law for any gambling establishment to manipulate or alter the payout of their machines. Laws usually state that the outcome of any game played must be purely down to chance, without any influence being permitted by casino or player. And this is why RNGs are utilised in both offline and online slot machines.
That being said, the RTP rates between online and offline casino games will differ. And that is because brick-and-mortar casinos can define the RTP rates of their slots. This doesn’t mean that at every twist and turn, they can simply adjust the RTP level. Instead, they select what sort of RTP rate they want a slot machine to have integrated into it before it is installed in their casino establishment. Once this has been set, it should not be possible to alter this. It does mean that if you play a specific slot machine at one land-based casino and then travel to another to play the same game, it may have a different RTP rate at both.
Yet this should always be done in a very open and visible way. The machines should always display the RTP and payout rates of the machines they are providing. If you take a look at the back of the slot machine you are playing in a physical establishment, then you should be able to see the associated RTP rate and other similar information. And this is how you will know what sort of long-term return you can expect to get from such. It’s just ideal to know that that RTP rate for the game may not be the same if you went to another casino.
Online casinos will usually just choose different developers to work with, and then the same RTP rate for the various slots from that brand will be in action throughout, from one casino to the next. It is important to note that the RTP rate of all online slots is theoretical, and this means that it won’t always be definitively what is suggested by the percentage. A little bit of variation can be expected in the games, but you can take note of the rough RTP rate and consider this when deciding upon a game to play.
What About Compensated Slots?
Compensated slots work differently to the normal every day slot machines that you may be aware of today. Essentially, the operate as though they have some sort of memory and can remember everything that has occurred prior to your arrival at it. To put it simpler, a compensated slot knows how much it has paid out and has the inside information of when it will next need to provide a payout so as to meet the inbuilt RTP rates. That’s not something that a standard RNG slot machine has.
Let’s say a compensated slot has an RTP rate of 90% and the game has had £100 wagered on it. This means that its average payout should sit at around £90. We’re assuming, in this case, that a particular compensated slot offers a winning combination in every 10 spins, meaning that nine of them would be losing spins. Therefore, this example machine is programmed to provide a reward at a 1:10 ratio. Keep in mind that this is a very simplified example, but it stands as the general point behind how compensated machines work.
If you were to make four spins which were all losing ones, these would be taken away from the total. In that moment, you would have the chance to land one winning combination and five more losses. To put it bluntly, the more losing spins on a compensated slot machine that you experience, the higher the chance is that the next one will be a winner. This is because the machine needs to pay out to get the RTP rate back up to its 90%, meaning it isn’t random. That’s not something that can be said for basic RNG slot machine games.
With regard to these slot machines though, they still aren’t controlled by the casino itself. They are instead controlled by how much they have already paid out, as described in the above example. In this respect, the game is effectively controlling itself and, depending upon the spins that have come before it and that are in its memory, will provide a payout to you when the RTP rate needs to bet met.
Although it is a physical possibility for casinos to adjust the RTP rates of their slot machines, those that want to be taken as real and respectable brands won’t engage in it. They’ll simply have it set at the beginning by the developer and then keep it at this level for all to play. Most casinos will look at the money that you wager on the machines as small change, so they aren’t really interested in cheating individual players. Of course, when a lot of small change is gathered together, it provides a nice income for the casino.
If they ended up cheating players by altering RTP rates and taking more control over slot machines and other games, then they risk suffering from large fines and potentially losing their gambling licences. Regulations are in place so that people can feel comfortable with the games they’re playing and expect them to be 100% fair and random (unless they’re playing a compensated slot).
Obviously, slot machines and casino games in general usually do lean in favour of the house in the long-run, so you can’t essentially beat them outrightly. Yes, some players will have luck on their side and score a nice jackpot payout, but that has little to do with the casino’s control of the games. It’s simply that they have an RTP rate and they need to provide such payouts.
Casinos have a slight control over the types of games they incorporate into their lobbies and, if a land-based establishment, what sort of RTP rate that slot incorporates. It is always ideal to know the game you’re playing and what sort of return to expect from a slot before spinning its reels. In the end though, a legitimate casino will not tamper with this at any point.