Are Slot Machines "Rigged?"

Slot machines bring in 70 percent of casino revenue, on average. If they make the most money for casinos, that means there is a large number of gamblers who are losing money. This has led to a multitude of conspiracy theories, myths, and fallacies that are passed around the gaming floor as fact. The most frequently asked question by slot players is, "Are slot machines rigged?" As you will see, it depends on how you define the term "rigged."

What is the Definition of "Rigged?"

The literal definition of the word "rigged" pertains to equipping a ship for sailing. In reference to slot machines, we are referring to the slang terminology that means "to give an unfair advantage to one side." The key term in this definition is "unfair." Yes, slot machines have a built-in advantage for the casinos, but are they "unfair?" Some would say that it is unfair for the casino to have any advantage at all. Others would concede the fact that casinos are businesses and need to make money, so it is okay for them to have an advantage. Slot machines are programmed to pay back less than they take in, that is a fact. The question that will be answered is, "Can casinos 'rig' a slot machine to keep you from winning?"

Are You Playing Class III Slots in Regulated Jurisdictions?

This article will address this question in relation to slot machines in regulated gaming jurisdictions such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City. The slot machines that will be referred to are for Class III gaming machines only. If you play slot machines online, in gaming parlors, tribal casinos, or sweepstakes cafes, these stipulations may not apply. Not all slot machines are the same. Make sure you are playing Class III gaming machines that are regulated by an unbiased government gaming commission.

Is the Casino Keeping You From Winning?

Most slot players know the odds are against them, but some worry that the casino is specifically targeting them from winning. There is story after story of slot players making the claim that they were winning and a casino employee came over, put their card in the machine, typed in a code, and all of a sudden the player started to lose. Other tales consist of the casino flipping a switch in the control room to keep them from winning. Some speculate that the casino uses your player rewards card to keep you from winning too much.These stories are untrue. That's not to say there aren't casinos in this world that are unethical, but if you are playing a slot machine in a regulated jurisdiction, they have no interest in keeping you from winning. Casinos can purchase slot machines from manufacturers that are set at any payback percentage as long it is above the state mandated minimum. They are guaranteed to make that percentage of every dollar that is wagered over the long term. There is no need for them to risk their gaming license to keep you from winning. They hope you win because that will insure that you will return.

Slot machines are programmed to payout less than they take in, but each spin is a random event. Class III slots are controlled by a random number generator (RNG) that produces a random result for each spin. Casinos cannot simply flip a switch to change the behavior or payout of a slot machine. If they want to alter the payout percentage, the internal computer program in the slot machine must be changed. This can only be done by notifying the gaming commission. The gaming commission performs random, unannounced inspections to make sure casinos are in compliance. Again, there is no need for a casino to alter a machine illegally and lose their license when they are already guaranteed to make a profit. If they want a bigger profit, they simply notify the gaming commission and the manufacturer and the slot payback computer program in the machine is changed.