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How a Slot Machine Really Works

How a Slot Machine Really Works

Slot machines make up the staple of casino games, whether it’s a physical casino referred to as a brick-and-mortar casino or an online casino. The casino market is massive, with the global online casino market worth $59 billion in 2020. The combined market size of physical casinos and online casinos reached a staggering $227 billion in 2020.

With such a lot of money filtering into this industry, there’s certainly a wealth of money set aside to research and develop new slot games. But how exactly does a slot machine work? The software behind the surface depends entirely on sophisticated algorithms and high-performance graphics. The vast majority of casino slots have a forward-facing interface represented by spinning reels. However, several new video slots feature arcade-like characters as opposed to traditional reels.

When stripped apart, you’ll find several hardware components that enable software to perform the on-screen magic. Slot machines feature CPU, GPU, sound amplifiers, screens, and other peripherals that accept cards, coins, or notes. The sophisticated CPUs commonly found in these machines also enable touch screens and 3D graphics to be displayed on multi-display platforms that push past HD to 4K.

But what about the software? Casino slots use random number generators to determine what symbols appear on the screen once a player spins the reels. The machine also incorporates a volatility program that dictates the return to the player.


Random Number Generator (RNG)

The slot machine’s random number generator is a program that operates on a non-cyclic basis. In other words, every single result is 100% unexpected and follows no pattern or cycle over time. The RNG ultimately generates numbers between 1 and several billion, hundreds of times every second. Furthermore, the RNG delivers indistinguishable patterns even when a player is not operating it. When a player hits the spin button, they are simply instructing the program to display the position of the latest generated set of numbers.

The RNG algorithm displays an entirely random value represented as an image, number, or action. This mechanic is the primary way that a slot’s results equate to chance.

Contrary to popular belief, a slot machine’s results aren’t dependent on how much or little a player has won in the past. There is simply no way for the RNG to react to previous reel results. As a result, the myth of hot and cold slot machines, along with the tale that you should steer clear of slots that recently hit the jackpot and instead pursue a casino slot that ’should’ award a jackpot, are all debunked.

But what about an instance where a player stops playing at a machine, walks away, and a minute later, a new player strikes it lucky at the same slot machine and wins a jackpot? Would you have won the big jackpot if you stayed at the slot machine a little longer? Not necessarily so, as the odds of the original player hitting the spin button at precisely the right moment when the RNG lands on a winning combination are incredibly slim.


Low Volatility Vs. High Volatility

Random number generators aren’t the only software that dictates winnings. When the software developers create a new game, they also factor in a process that determines the volatility of a game. Casinos usually offer players a variety of slot machines that are either cheap or expensive to play.

In simple terms, this program prescribes how frequently winnings will be awarded based on the amount of money spent on a particular slot machine.

Volatility is a measurement of risk versus reward. If the slot’s program is high volatility, it means that the game requires a player to invest a considerable amount before a set of lucky numbers is displayed and, along with it, a large payout. Similarly, a low volatility machine requires fewer spins before it pays out small winnings.

To sum it up, a high volatility game pays out less often, but it’s a significant amount when it does it. A low volatility machine frequently pays out small amounts.

Players can gauge which type of slot they’re sitting at based on the coin denomination sizes (smaller coin sizes indicate a low-volatility game) and by researching the slot’s particular Return to Player (RTP).


Wrapping it up

Software plays a significant role in winning. Naturally, the house edge also dictates how much a casino is willing to forego while still turning a profit with the machine’s random number generator and its return to player (RTP) directly influencing the house edge.

Once a player distinguishes the difference between the myths associated with slots, whether it’s physical slots or online slots, they have a better chance of making an informed decision and managing their expectations when spinning at a slot machine.

About the Author – Hein Sondag

Hein has worked in the online casino and sports betting industries for over ten years. A wild man at heart with a passion for writing about what matters most about betting – turning a profit while enjoying the gameplay. He’s an avid fan of horse racing, baccarat, and the slot industry’s latest developments. When he’s not keeping tabs on the latest online casino developments and writing for OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos.com, he’s cycling, hiking, and swimming with sharks.




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