How Slot Machines Work

Slot machines are the earliest form of a casino game, and perhaps still remain the most popular.  It seems as though every casino is filled with dedicated slot players no matter where you are or what time it is.  However, many don’t understand how the machines work and the path that led to today’s modern form of slots.

The first slot machines, built in the 1800s, were very cumbersome and noisy, and consisted of huge gears and reels.  They were typically located in or near a saloon, and winners were most often rewarded with free food and drink.

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Modern machines have utilized the vast advances in technology to optimize the experience through computer software.  It is very difficult to find one that uses the original reels today, but very strict regulations have ensured us that the newer versions are not fraudulent.

The new slot machines use a specific computer software program called a Random Number Generator, or RNG.  This program continually generates random numbers in a non-repetitive method, including when no one is even playing the machine. 

When someone spins or pulls the handle, the numbers in the software stop generating and send a signal to the machine to delegate the combination that corresponds.  This software has been argued by gamblers and mathematicians for years, but it still remains legal.

Although there have been debates, it is generally agreed that with spin every player has a fair and equal chance at winning.  Even for those machines that still use reels, the RNG causes them to stop at a specific combination when the handle is pulled.

Another added advantage to the newer slots is the reduced management required.  Managers and casino owners no longer need to stock the machines with coins, as the computerized version allows them to track each player’s credits to cash in at a later time.

Payouts from a modern slot machine are also regulated by the computer programs.  When a winning combination is reached, the computer determines the correct payout, and pays a small percentage back to the casino.  However, most casinos will keep this amount at a bare minimum to allow players to keep as much of their winnings as possible.

These payout calculations are actually determined when a machine is manufactured and the computer software is programmed and installed.  If there ever needs to be a change in this programming, most casinos will just replace the software completely.

Many state and local laws regulate this practice, and will sometimes require the presence of an official representing the government when this change takes place.  Other localities will perform regular audits of slot machines to check that their history of payouts is correct and not tampered with in any way.

Advancing technology has allowed for a much easier-to-use slot machine that may be regulated and programmed for many different purposes.  This technology allows for better working machines, improved maintenance, and options for regulation and law enforcement.

Using RNG programs also helps to ensure that each slot player has an equally fair chance as all others to hit a winning combination and therefore a huge payout or jackpot.