By Sam Jones on Feb 26, 2017
Are online slots are a scam? Are they rigged by the casinos to prevent real players from winning?
These are important and common questions and we’re hear the lay them to bed once and for all. Let’s kick things off by talking about if online casinos actually have the power to rig slot machines.
Can Slot Machines Be Rigged?
The best way to answer this question is to look at exactly how slot machines work. There are two crucial mechanics you need to be aware of: the Random Number Generator (RNG) and the return to player percentage (RTP).
Random Number Generators
An RNG is a complex piece of software especially designed and created to produce strings of entirely random numbers and these numbers then dictate what symbols are displayed on the slot machine.
What is important to recognise here is that the software ensures that all combinations displayed to players are random. That therefore means that there is no scope for a casino to control the result of a player’s specific spin.
Are they truly random?
When players learn of RNGs and hear that legitimate machines are indeed all entirely random, many players are more than a little sceptical as they are sure that casinos must do something to guarantee that they profit from slots.
The fact is, that the casinos certainly do have those kinds of guarantees but that it has nothing to do with ‘rigging’ the machine or cheating players.
RTP Percentages: The Casinos Edge
Over the long term – and when we say long term we mean a life span of a machine which can encompass millions of spins – a casino or games provider can be certain that they will profit from the machine due to the ‘house edge’.
That ‘house edge’ is built into every slot by way of the payout or return to player (RTP) percentage of the machine.
That RTP percentage is programmed into each slots game by the software companies who make them and represents the amount paid out to players as compared with the total amount wagered on the game over an extended period of time.
How do RTP percentages work?
If an RTP percentage is 95% for example, then a machine will on average pay out 95% of what it takes in over its life time and the ‘house edge’ will be 5% – as that is what the casino or provider will take for themselves.
That combination of RNG and payout percentage therefore, is what ensures that casinos make a long term profit from slots games without the need to ‘rig’ the machines or to attempt to scam players.
The machines can – and do – payout to different players at different times after all, whilst still maintaining the overall ‘house edge’ over an extended period of time.
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How To Recognise Safe Casino Sites
All of the above should help to ease players’ minds when it comes to the general fairness of slot games, but that does of course depend upon the casino or site in question operating in an above board and legitimate fashion.
That makes it crucial then, for players to be able to spot when a site is legitimate and is therefore one that they can trust. Fortunately, there are a number of things to immediately look out for which should make this process nice and simple.
- Any legitimate site will be fully licensed by the relevant regulator for their country and will display their license number or the logo somewhere on site.
- Legitimate casino sites will frequently have their games audited and test by external bodies. Look out for the eCOGRA logo (mostly UK), the Technical Systems Testing logo and the Gaming Laboratories International logo (mostly US) to ensure this is happening.
- Another good indicator of a trustworthy site is one which takes responsible gambling seriously. Look out for logos and information relating to this on site to verify legitimacy (Responsible Gambling Trust, Gamcare, Gambleaware.co.uk and Gamblers Anonymous International Service).
Are Casinos Honest With Slot Machines Or Do They Cheat?
Now that we know RNG’s control each spin or a slot and how much control casinos have over the payout percentages of their slot machines and games, all that is left is to discuss is whether they are honest in their use of that control.
Fortunately, when it comes to the kind of legitimate sites that we have described how to identify above, the answer is a resounding yes.
As we have discussed after all, the sites do not have the ability to change the payout percentages of their games and they are rigorously tested to ensure that the percentages are indeed what they claim them to be. What’s more, some sites openly publish those percentages for players to see and most others will provide them if a player directly asks for them.
There are bad eggs out there though… so if you’re worried about playing at a fair and regulated online casino then simply select one from our list and you can rest your mind at ease.