History and math, fun facts and serious issues – we’ve decided to touch upon all the main things that will paint the big picture for you. Just like any other phenomenon in our world, slot machines have a story to tell. Here are the most exciting episodes from the 100-year history.
5 before 3
While some seasoned gamblers may treat 3-reel slot machines as basic has-beens and see 5 reels as pure innovation and a sign of a progressive bright future, we’d like to refer to the fact that the very first mechanism had 5 revolving drums. They were spinning 50 card faces: all the poker deck except the Jack of Hearts and the Ten of Spades. Nothing personal, but their removal doubled the House Edge. The winning combinations that the players were trying to land were nothing else but standard poker hands.
Of course, technologies have come a long way since then. The truth is that the first 5-reel machine used to have just one row. Now, game providers make an effort to show off their technological savvy and develop online and video slots featuring not just 5, but 6 and 7 reels that additionally can change their shape and expand.
Slot machines bring home the bacon
More than 80% of all everything casinos earn comes from slot machines.
Originally they were entertainment for pubs and bars where the winners got paid with snacks and drinks at the counter though. Nowadays, they are officially recognized as the most popular and profitable casino game.
Slot machines pay out more than keep
And this is the most important rule for all the slots found at physical or online casinos established by law. Slot machines have to pay out a certain percentage of all the money that players spend on them (it’s called RTP – Return to Player Percentage). Legal gaming authorities determine how high the minimum RTP is going to be, that’s why the figures differ from one place to another, but it is never lower than 80%. When it comes to online casinos, game providers establish RTPs and embed them in their software.
The average RTP for online slots is 92-96%, which usually is higher than at any land-based casino.
Slot machines can be hacked
Not by everyone and not every day. But there have been cases.
When mechanical slot machines just started reigning over the kingdom of casinos, there were a few clever ways to cheat. For example, some gamblers inserted coins wrapped with a short plastic wire. The coin was accepted, triggered the game but then went straight to the reject chute and returned to the player. Another trick was called the “yo-yo cheat” or “coin on a string”. The names speak for themselves. The coin spent seconds in the slot: just enough time to touch the optic sensor for the game to get started. Then a quick pull followed and set it free.
We’ve mentioned just a couple of ways, but much more tricks existed. Needless to say, none of them will work with today’s slot machines: the technologies have made them obsolete. So, put all the plastic wires and glue down and don’t even think of trying any of that.
As we’ve said, advances in technologies have eliminated a lot of cheating opportunities. Or did they just make the cheaters think harder?
It’s no secret that modern slot machines don’t rely on levers and gears anymore. Everything is determined by the almighty computer and Random Number Generator. But how invulnerable is it? A group of Russian engineers and IT geniuses had spent 5 years deciphering the algorithm of one slot machine and creating a mobile-friendly program to hack it on the spot. Then in 2014 they went to an American casino and won some money. 5 years of hard work, a dream team of IT prodigies, and there you have it: the long-desired slot machine payout.
Slot machines are never hot or cold
Especially the ones that operate electronically. All their payouts are determined by a Random Number Generator – the system of algorithms producing hundreds of sequences of random numbers per second. This guy is a rock. He doesn’t care how much you’ve already invested in one specific slot machine; your hopes, desires, and state of bankroll are nothing to him. The odds of winning or losing with each spin are always the same: 50/50.
Slot machines are addictive
Yes, people might develop a slot addiction comparable to other problematic behaviour like dependence on nicotine, drug, sugar, and so on.
Some slot players have proven to enter the “machine zone” and lose a track of time, a sense of monetary value, and awareness of the state of their bodies.
Slot machines make mistakes
We’ve saved the best for last.
All of us are just humans, even machines. In 2010 one of the slot software malfunctioned and decided to reward a player in Vietnam with a jackpot of $55,542,296. The casino turned out to be less generous than their slot machine and refused to pay, blaming it on the system error. The case was taken to court, and the gambler got some money compensation eventually. Sure, it was far less satisfying than the prize could have been.
Two slot machines at casinos in Colorado demonstrated their kindness in the year 2010. The software promised cash prizes of $11 and $42 million to 2 players. Unfortunately, according to the software records analysis carried out by Colorado Gaming Commission, these winnings were system errors as well and were not subject to payout.