• Casinos don’t control the results of player’s game play at a slot.

  • Results are randomly determined by the slot’s inner computer workings.

  • There are no “hot” and “cold” slots.

  • Casinos have an edge at slots and simply control the percentage of money wagered is paid back to players.

  • A random number generator determines the result of each spin.

Can casinos control slot machines? That is a question that runs across the mind of many gamblers – whether they’ve had a frustrating night at the slots without any winnings or are simply curious about how some of their favorite games work.

A recent report by valued the global slot machine market in 2022 at $9.5 billion. That is expected to rise to $13.5 billion by 2030 with an annual compound annual growth rate of 4.4%. With that kind of growth and popularity, players might believe that gaming companies go out of their way to control those slots and rig the games against them. But this isn’t the case.

Many players may believe that the games are fixed so that players can never win. They may believe that the casinos go out of their way to secure more profits engineering that those “one-armed bandits” (or their online counterparts) are bringing players plenty of losses.

But is that really the case? Do casinos really have an incentive to rig machines in which they already have an edge? Is the idea that the “fix is in” when it comes to casinos and slots?
Keep reading to learn all about this issue and to clear up some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding slot machine control as well as how these games work and reward winners.

1 – Understanding Slot Machines and RNG

Unlike early slots that featured real mechanical inner workings, today’s games are high-tech devices that instead feature computer inner workings that determine the result of a spin. These are almost like a mobile phone or sophisticated personal computer with high-powered technology call all the snots instead of actual moving parts.

The RNG (random number generator) is a huge part of that and, as the name implies, helps produce a random number. That may not be exactly true as today’s computer programming wizards can’t produce a completely random number but instead produce what is called “pseudo-random,” which most players would never realize isn’t completely random. Here’s a look at more about what the RNG in each slot does:

  • Creates random results.

  • Ensures fairness and unpredictability.

  • Ensures that each spin is entirely independent of previous results.

  • Makes gameplay completely unpredictable.

As you might surmise, the RNG has more to do with the results of a slot spin than the casino that houses the slot.

Discover our favorite slot games below, or simply click here for all the free slots at Jackpot Party:

2 – Extent of Casino Control Over Slot Machines

Many players believe casinos can manipulate games and even determine their own wins and losses. While casinos have some control over the percentage of money paid back out to players, known as RTP (return to player), they can’t rig certain machines to pay out at certain times.

The idea that casino staff work against players to guarantee losses is a fallacy. Many players have indeed won staggering sums of money while playing slots and many often walk away with smaller winnings as well. This points to the idea that casinos don’t work to rig the games against players, but there is also much more against this argument.

Casinos generally only work with slot developers to establish the RTP and other general gameplay issues, not to determine when a machine pays out and how much. The casino already has a hefty house edge over slots, so have no reason to rig the games. If a casino’s machine never paid out, more players would be reluctant to play at that property.

In general casinos simply want to see more players at the slots. That built-in edge multiplies even more with more players at the machines ready to gamble. That is why casinos offer hotel deals, free drinks, loyalty cards, free play, and other promotions (more on that below). They know when players are actually playing, they have more time to see the house edge work in their favor and take more of those funds players wager.

3. Changing Payout Schedules and Frequencies

Many players believe casinos simply change payout schedules on a whim. Perhaps adjusting an RTP for certain machines or for a certain time of day or any other number of beliefs. While properties can adjust RTP and payout schedules, there are some critical caveats to these efforts.

Older slots made use of a certain computer chip when it came to RTP and payback schedules. Changing that also meant changing the chip in every slot a property wanted to alter. This could come with considerable effort and cost, leading many casinos not to change too often.

Today’s high-tech games are based much more on software. The games can vary RTP based on denominations played, but also based on their own goals. While a property can adjust payout schedules, this doesn’t mean they are controlling certain games or rigging games against a player at any one time. A property is simply adjusting the total amount of money paid back out to players.

Additionally, some states require any change to a game to be reported as a new game to regulatory bodies. Others may require that the game remain out of operation before and after any changes. Some require paper trails for audit and verification purposes as well. Considering all of the above, changing payout schedules can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process, meaning some properties may not go through with any of these changes at all.

4 – Server Based Slot Systems

The slot industry has seen some changes in recent years with server-based Slot Systems (SBS) offering another alternative to managing some slot operations.

These can be controlled on one central server, allowing operators to reduce costs through central management. SBS can also be used to personalize the experience. This still doesn’t enable casinos to randomly change RTP and payouts based on a player winning.

Quote Open

“No state permits a changeover when someone is playing,” Atlantic City Weekly reports. “Many require machines to post notices of a change. Beginning with the first field tests of server-based systems, Nevada required that any change must come when no one is playing, that a machine must display a notice that a change is in progress, and then must display that a change has been made before the new or revised game could be activated.”

Quote Open

Online slot operators use server-based approaches, allowing these platforms to offer numerous games to players across certain jurisdictions. These operators in legalized markets still face numerous regulations to ensure fair play for players.

Kevin Sweet, vice president of slot operations and marketing at the Cosmopolitan casino in Las Vegas, said the SBS systems may not have been as popular as developers planned. He argues that for most slots, once they hit the casino floor, the games remain mostly unchanged.

Quote Open

“As for machines being changed… the holy grail of slot technology 10 years ago was the deployment of ‘server based gaming,’ where we’d be able to update games on the fly,” Sweat told Know Your Slots. “That was more of a pipe dream and never really materialized. The most common example of why this was going to be so great for casinos was that on Friday and Saturday we’d be able to remove the penny denomination from our games, forcing our guests to bet more because we’re so busy. But the truth is, it never worked and we’re never that busy. No one is doing that. Basically, once a machine is set up, that’s how it stays.”

Quote Open

Whether these systems will continue to grow in popularity among live casinos in the coming years remains to be seen.

5 – Legal and Regulatory Framework

The casino industry is highly regulated with state gaming commissions charged with protecting players and making sure that gambling properties follow the law. These regulatory bodies work to ensure fairness when players head to the slots or gaming tables.

Beyond regulating fairness, different jurisdictions have different laws including when it comes to the exact types of slot machines that are legal. Some of these games vary in how they function including:

  • Slot machinesTraditional games that most people recognize when playing in Las Vegas. These are officially known as Class III slots.

  • Class II slots – Native American tribes without a federal gaming compact often operate these slot-like games based on traditional bingo. These games can be virtually indistinguishable from traditional slots.

  • Historical horse racing (HHR) – These games have become a growing segment of the gaming industry in recent years. They are similar to slot machines but based on historical horse racing results. Several states have legalized the games to help their horse racing industries in recent years and they are often seen at horse tracks.

  • Skill games – This is a game requiring a certain “skill” such as a memory component that has become prevalent at some gas stations and other venues across the country. They are generally illegal in many jurisdictions and shouldn’t be confused with newer “skill-based video slots” the industry has seen. Underground games don’t release RTP percentages and are a major concern for state law enforcement and legislators.

There are so many laws and regulations in the casino gaming industry that rigging slot machines is not worth the effort, but could also have major negative effects on the property. Casinos work to stay within the law because running afoul of regulatory agencies can bring significant penalties and put a property’s license in jeopardy.

Also, as noted, casinos just don’t have an incentive to control slots and fix the game against players. There is a considerable house edge and properties that bring in plenty of slot players will see considerable revenue over the long run.

6 – Debunking Myths About Slot Machine Control

Despite the use of modern technology – including the all-important RNG – many slot players still believe there are certain times, locations, rituals, and other beliefs about slot machines and how they pay out. Here are just a few of these:

  • Hot & cold slots – Some players believe some slots are “hot” and pay out more than others. Some games are referred to as “cold,” as they appear not to pay out often.

  • Location matters – Some players believe games located in certain locations pay out more often than others.

  • Time of day – Does playing at a certain time of day matter when it comes to slot payouts? That’s what some players believe.

  • Finding the right moment – Some believe that a slot is “ready” to pay out at any given moment for varying reasons.

These are just a few examples of some of the myths surrounding slot play. The games pay out at random times based on the RNG within the machine. Some may register a few jackpots quickly. Other games may take a while to pay out some winnings.

As Untamed Science notes, the “RNG rules over the outcome of every spin of the reels in a slot game, but that this is also a technology which ensures fairness.

7 – Casino Strategies and Business Considerations

When it comes to slots, the goal of a casino is simply to get more players seated in front of the slots. The built-in house advantage ensures that players can’t get an edge at these games or even a great wager compared to some other gambling games. There are several strategies properties use to keep players betting including the location of certain popular games within a casino.

“Each day operators are faced with the decision of where to install their newest games,” Global Gaming Business magazine reports. “Many factors enter the calculus: current underperforming slot product, merchandising capabilities, as well as a recommended base denomination is just a start. Sometimes it’s easiest to backfill low-performing product with whatever games just arrived without a second thought to optimize for location.”

Beyond those considerations, casinos employ numerous other methods and marketing efforts to get more players through the doors and at the slots. Some of these include:

  • Promotions – A property’s loyalty card helps players amass points toward free play and even events like slot tournaments. These keep them coming back to play.

  • Freebies – From free drinks to free rooms to prizes, the casino comps system offers players some incentives to get in the action.

  • VIP experiences – Many properties make it “cool” to play with experiences like private gaming areas, VIP rooms, high-limit salons, and even a break with a spa treatment. This type of treatment especially goes for higher-betting players.

Notice that these methods all have to do with getting more players in the casino, not rigging the gaming systems. Many business considerations are behind marketing slot machines, but casinos don’t work to control the actual gameplay.

8 – Player Perceptions and Casino Reputation

While notions of casinos’ abilities to control slots remain, they have little to do with which games select winners and losers. However, some properties may have higher RTP percentages than others. This can be a legitimate concern among players.

Players doing some research online can find properties with better RTP than others. This means they are paying back more of the money wagered in their slots as a whole than other casinos. Players have a better chance of winning at these properties, and thus RTP can be a legitimate concern among players.

Even the appearance of unfairness or impropriety could have major repercussions in this highly competitive industry, and losing customers could lead to revenue losses over the long term. That is something gaming companies don't want to see.



Can casinos control slot machines to rig the games against players?

As noted, casinos already have a significant house edge and face numerous regulations and laws governing their operation. A casino can’t control an individual game someone might be playing because they face considerable regulation in operating fair games and also already have a significant house edge on these games.

A casino simply wants to see more players at the slots to take advantage of that built-in advantage. Also, a casino rigging the games against players could lose its gaming license, face significant fines and penalties and encounter a serious loss of reputation that may see players going to other properties. All casino wins and losses are based on a slot’s RNG (see more on that below).


What is a slot’s RNG?

This stands for “random number generator” and helps determine completely random spins on a slot machine. This helped replace mechanical workings determining winners as seen on early slots. The RNG also helps ensure fairness in a game.


What is RTP?

This stands for “return to player” and is the amount of money wagered into a slot that is paid back out to players. Casinos can adjust this percentage, but that may come with gaming regulation mandates as well. However, casinos can’t control the results of a slot machine and players still win and lose based on the results of the RNG.


Are these “hot” and “cold” slots?

This is a common myth among slot players. Others believe machines pay out more during certain times of the day or week. Some may also think that slots are “due” to pay based on how much they have been played. The simple fact is that none of these beliefs are accurate and that all payouts are random and based on the game’s RNG.

Some slots may pay out several times in a row, while others may take a while between payouts. This can also change as well. The RNG makes all the elements of a slot random and these slot myths shouldn’t be believed.

10 – Conclusion

Modern slot machines are solely based on a game’s random number generator (RNG) and casinos can’t and aren’t out to control a player’s individual gameplay or results. It’s important to remember that casinos already have a built-in advantage when it comes to these games and are simply looking to collect a significant chunk of the entire pool of what players wager on the games.

Additionally, many players may have beliefs about when a machine might pay out but these are mostly myths. Today’s high-tech video slots payout at random. Casinos aren't looking to control the slots and rig games against players. Grab that lucky charm and spin away – a winning combination might just randomly come your way.

Sean Chaffin
Sean Chaffin

Sean Chaffin is a longtime freelance writer, editor, and former high school journalism teacher. He has covered the poker and gaming industry for many years.