While we aren’t doing much gambling or playing slots right now, when the “new normal” returns, our contributing author tells us everything we need to know about slot machines. 

The unmistakable sound of slot machines has become synonymous with casinos. In fact, the first thing you see when you land on McCarran International Airport in the world’s gambling capital Las Vegas are rows upon rows of them. They have grown so popular that even in modern online casinos, the vast majority of all games are slots. This is also true for brick and mortar casinos. Poker, blackjack, and roulette may be fashionable and classy games, but slots are casinos’ bread and butter. These machines go by many names. In England, they are known as fruit machines, due to the symbols that appear on their drums. In Scotland, they call them puggy, while in Australia and New Zealand they go by poker machines. Early models in America were known as one-armed bandits, due to the long lever on one side of the machine you had to pull to rotate the drums. We will let you work for yourself the bandit part. Here is what you need to know before you give them a spin.

How Do Slot Machines Work?

Modern slots are electronic devices. Their heart is the random number generator that determines the combination that appears on the screen. In the old days, these machines were mechanical contraption, powered by a lever on the side. Now, they are equipped with touch screens and offer far more winning combinations. Most importantly, random number generators can be programmed to pay out a certain percentage of all deposits made. We will see later why this is important. Also, old machines were operated via coins. With new ones, you can select the value of your bet and how many paylines you want to play, vastly increasing your chances of a win.

Video Slots vs Classic Slots

Most of the modern slots can be characterized as video slots. Instead of old-fashioned drums, they have a screen that presents all the available info. The latest generation uses touch screens, so you don’t have to deal with those pesky buttons anymore and can input all your commands via the screen. But that is not the only difference between classic slots and modern ones. To suit different audiences, video slots come in several flavors. They offer several paylines to the players, increasing their chances of winning a jackpot. Others go one step further. They are called progressive slots because the value of their jackpots increases with every deposit made. In time, its value can reach staggering sums, often in millions. Classic machines, like the ones you can read in the history of slot machines, are harder to find these days, but there are some casinos that operate them, purely for nostalgia reasons.

What is ToD?

ToD is short for time on device. That is an industry term that describes how much time an average player spends playing a certain machine. For obvious reasons, casinos want ToD to be as short as possible. Step up to the machine, lose all your money, let another player try their luck. Players, on the other hand, want to get as much playing time as they can. These two conflicting needs have caused severe problems in many traditional casinos. Online casinos, on the other hand, don’t care about ToD. Their slot machines aren’t physical and they can accommodate thousands of players at the same time. The only limitation is their bandwidth, but bandwidth cost is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. That is why they encourage their players to play as much as they want. This is one of the main reasons more and more people choose to play slot machines online, as opposed to going to brick and mortar casinos. The other reasons are convenience and ease of access.

Slot Machines and RTP (Return to Player)

Understanding RTP and how it affects your winnings is very important to any slot machine player. We already mentioned that random number generators that powered online slots can be programmed to adjust how often they come up with a winning combination. The RTP is a simple way of displaying how much money a slot will give back to players. Modern slots have an RTP of 94% to 96%. That is how much of deposits they will give back to players in the form of winnings. The rest goes to the casino to cover their overhead. Of course, it takes a little luck for RTP to favor you, and not the next guy who plays the game. The RTP should be visibly displayed on the online casino’s site and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. Many countries have strict regulations in place about such issues and legit casinos abide by them fervently. The risk of losing their license is simply too big.

Armed with this detailed knowledge of slot machines, you should have no trouble enjoying playing them. Hopefully, we shed some light on how slots function and what you can expect from them.