As a site that reviews and promotes sites offering online slots and other games, i am often asked if I think Slots are legit or if they are rigged against players.
It’s pretty common for players to wonder just how these games work and if they are run fairly. Especially if they lose money.
Basically, it comes down to an understanding of how betting works and how betting companies make their money.
If i had to sum it up in one cliched sentence I’d say – “The house always wins”
Whether it is a bricks-and-mortar Casino, a high-street Bookmakers or an online Casino – they always make a profit. Otherwise no one would start one of these companies.
But that doesn’t mean the games are rigged. They don’t need to be.
In this article I’ll cover:
How do gambling providers make money?
Essentially, once you understand how gambling providers make money, you will understand that games don’t need to be scams.
The best example to help you get a grip of it is probably roulette.
On a standard Roulette table there are 37 numbers. 0-36.
One number coming in pays 35-1. So you get 35 times your bet back plus your stake.
So, if you bet £1 on 17 and it comes in, you get £36 back.
That means that covering all numbers would mean you bet £37 and get £36 back. You lose £1 on every spin of the roulette wheel.
That is the “margin” on roulette. On every spin, on average, the Casino makes £1 from every £37 wagered.
Of course they may lose in the short-term if a big bet goes against them, but over time they always make a profit.
So there is no need for the actual game to be rigged. The odds already favour the house.
All games are the same.
Video Poker will pay out about 800x your bet if you hit a Royal Flush. But the actual odds of getting dealt one are about 650,000-1. Even when changing some of your cards the odds are about 16,000-1.
So, again they don’t need to fix the game to not be fair and random. The Odds are already in their favour.
Slots are much harder to put Odds against. The real odds of hitting the jackpot on a specific slot will depend on the number of symbols per reel, the number of reels and the number of winlines.
But imagine a slots game with 5 reels. 30 symbols per reel and 20 winlines.
If there was one Jackpot Symbol per reel, that would mean the real odds of hitting the jackpot would be around 30x30x30x30x30 divided by 20.
So in this example it would be odds of about a million to one to hit the jackpot.
Its unlikely they actually pay out 1,000,000x your bet. More likely 10,000x or 50,000x
Of course, there are Features and lots of other winning symbols you could hit so its impossible to accurately figure out the odds of any win.
The best you can do is look at the “Return To Player” (RTP) figure for slots. This is basically like the “margin” we discussed for Roulette.
Most Slots have a RTP of about 96%. Which basically means for every £100 wagered the Casino wins £4 and you get £96 back.
That RTP figure covers all players of the game. So you might win more than you bet, and two other players might lose.
But over a long enough period the Casino always wins. No need to not have the games be random.
Are online slots really random though?
As i’ve explained the odds are always already in the Casinos favour. That’s how they make money.
Running a Casino isn’t a big gamble. Unless they get a massive winner in their first day of operation, they’ll always make a profit.
All online games have their results generated by a Random-Number-Generator.
Every combination of cards, slots reels or a roulette spin is given a designated code.
The codes are chosen at random and the result is shown to the player.
These Random-Number-Generators can be audited and the results can be independently verified for fairness. It is one of the requirements to get a licence from the UKbGambling Commission that independent verifiers can check these.
The negative publicity that would be generated for a company for having a fixed game would be far more damaging than just making the steady profit they would make by running it fairly.
How are online slots games made?
There are many companies who develop online Slots games. The best known are NetEnt, Microgaming, Playtech and IGT.
They develop the games and then the Casinos host them on their sites. Paying them about 50% of the revenue the games generate.
The Casino sites themselves have no access to make changes to the code of a game. So if a game was rigged (or faulty) it would most likely be the fault of the developers.
And you’d have the same chance of winning on the same slots game – regardless of the Casino you played it on. Even if it seems like one site is luckier for you than another, that’s all it is. Luck.
If you really want to try out as many Slots as possible on one site, then try Videoslots. As we said earlier, they have the biggest selection of Slots in the world.
So are online slots just luck?
But if you want to introduce some strategy into it, you can look at a few things.
Firstly you might look at the RTP, as we mentioned above. Although they are generally around the same there are some differences.
Then you might look at the size of the jackpot. Especially with the progressive slots – these can get into the millions.
One quick test i do with a new slot is look at the lowest, most common win. Say 3 symbols on a 5-reel game. If it pays back less than half the wager i usually skip it.
So if i bet £1 and the spin brings up 3 fruits and it only pays 20p I usually leave it. Just a personal superstition, i suppose.
It is commonly believed, with some evidence, that when a new slots game is launched, the RTP is set higher to give players a better chance and make them want to play more.
So you might want to try out new games.
I personally prefer a game with mini games built into the features. I’m probably not a hard core slots player, but i get bored with just spinning reels. I need “features” to keep me interested.
How Can I win more on online slots?
If i knew that, I’d be a Millionaire.
I can only tell you what i do. As i said above, check out the RTP’s.
Play new games to take advantage of any promotional RTP’s. Practice on Demo mode to get a feel for the game before you bet with real money.
Start out with small bets and if you get a winning run going, slowly increase your bets.
If you hit a losing streak then lower your bets to ride it out.
Never chase your loses – betting more and more just to try and break even. That can lead to bigger loses than you can handle.
Always bet responsibly.
Summary – are online slots legit?
So without having access to the code for every avalable slot game, or being able to audit Random-Number-Generator results, I can’t guarantee that every slots game is run fairly.
But as i hope i have shown you, they don’t need to rig any games at all.
Their profits are already built in to the odds they give you. And the odds have to favour the house.
Otherwise running a Casino or Bookmakers would be a risk. And no one would do it.
There are lots of checks and balances in place and the negative publicity that they would get for running a crooked game would cost them more than they could get. So cheating seems unlikely.
If you are lucky you will personally win a profit. But in the long-term the house always wins.
Gambling should be a fun form of entertainment with a win being a bonus.
If you want to consistently make a profit through gambling, i’d suggest starting a Casino rather than playing at one.