How Casinos Use Math To Make Money When You Play The Slot

How Casinos Use Math To Make Money When You Play The Slot


People often ask “Which slot machine is the one that is going to hit?” However, we know that the casinos do not work that way. In this article, we will explain why people play slots, how slots work, and what you have to know about them.

Slot machines are the most essential money-making machines of casinos in the United States. In most states, casinos make around 65 to 80 percent of their gambling income from these machines. In Las Vegas, the percentage ranges from 88 percent in casinos that cater mainly to locals to 50 percent on the Las Vegas Strip, where high rollers bet tens of thousands a dollar a hand changing the results in favour of table games. Every day, players bet millions of dollars into slot machines. Some people may wonder as to why?

A modern slot machine is extremely simple and effortless to play. Players insert coins, choose their bet amount, press spin, and hope for their luck to work. There are several varieties of slot machines in casinos today, ranging from machines with physical spinning reels to slots that replicate spinning reels on a video screen. However, all these variants work essentially the same way. All slot machines except video slots, whatever their branding, are games of pure probability.

The probability aspect of slot machines is what makes them so attractive to so many people. If you know how to put coins into a slot and press a button, you have just as good a shot at winning a jackpot as someone who has been playing for decades. In the end, it is all about luck.

Slot machines are essential to casinos because they are, as long as enough people keep playing them, a stable source of money. To explain why they are so crucial for casinos, Bob Ambrose, a gaming consultant and casino management instructor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, says “It is all about the game math.”

the game math

When casinos inspect how a slot machine is performing, the most essential thing they look at is the ‘drop’. Drop is the money deposited by the player in the machines. Another name you might hear is ‘handle’, which Ambrose refers to as the total amount of money bet by a player. What is left after the machine pays out its jackpots is for the casino to keep, also known as the ‘revenue’.

So how do slot machines determine who wins and who loses? “Payouts on the slots are calculated statistically,” says Ambrose. Pushing the spin button activates the random number generator, which is an algorithm that decides whether each spin is a win or a loss, and how big a win it is. Each game, Ambrose says, has an already set hold percentage and a paytable that details how often and how much games will payback.

Games like video poker, pay back more often but in smaller amounts. In contrast, games like the Megabucks progressive, have fewer but bigger hits.

Can a player get hold an edge on a slot which relies on pure probability? Not really. “There is a mathematical advantage for the casinos,” Ambrose says. “The math ensures that casinos generate a consistent win for themselves.”