• It’s true: Some retail casinos will position machines that pay better in more visible locations throughout their floor plan.

  • Casinos aren’t allowed to alter payout percentages without approval from in-state governing agencies.

  • Researching games and their RTP before heading to the casino is the best way to know how often they pay out. 

According to the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, all slot machines on the Boulder Strip in Las Vegas carry an average RTP of 94.26%. 

This is important to know as we’ll be going over loose slot machines, which are characterized as slot machines perceived to have a higher RTP. One of the more common myths associated with these slots is that the location of slots within a casino can signal whether they’re “loose” or “tight,” but the reality is that there’s no “one size fits all” in terms of how casinos organize their slots. That said, some casinos may be known to do this. 

Below, we’ll continue tackling the notion of “loose” slot machines, looking at how they compare to “tight” ones, looking at more myths surrounding them, how digital advancements have changed the landscape, and so much more. 

Defining Loose Slot Machines 

Loose slot machines are simply slots that players believe carry a higher RTP than others. This conclusion is arrived at for various reasons, which we’ll discuss, but there’s a mix of both myths and misconceptions associated with these. We must flesh this out so you don’t have a preconceived notion when stepping foot into a casino. 

Loose Slot Machines vs. Tight Slot Machines

The concept of loose slot machines also relates to “tight” ones. Where there are loose slot machines, there are ones considered to be “tight,” and below, we’ll look at some myths and sort through them. 

Before that, it’s important to understand what tight slot machines are. 

These are considered to be the opposite of loose slot machines. Tight slot machines are believed to have low RTP, which means less frequent payouts. 

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Myths and Realities of Loose Slots

Below, we’ll look at a few myths surrounding loose slot machines and debunk them. 

The Location of Slot Machines

One belief, as we mentioned, is that when you walk into a casino, the placement of where the slots are matters. Many believe that loose slots are at the end of slot aisles as a way to draw players in. However, this isn’t the case. Each slot has integrated software that can be different than the one next to it, and the design layout of the casino doesn’t necessarily point to it. Again, slots are all random. 

However, we want to make it clear that some casinos may do that. It’s like going into a grocery store and sitting in line to see various products. Suggestive selling is a thing, and it happens at casinos. 

There is data available for you to sort through which casinos tend to have the highest RTP. 

Playing at Different Times of Day

Some slot players might believe that playing at night or during the day impacts how machines pay out. Again, this simply isn’t the case. These machines are designed with software inside of them that has an RTP, and the RNG inside makes for a consistently random play session. These are digital slots, and they cannot be manipulated in that way. 

Playing at Machines That Just Paid Someone Else Out 

Another commonly held belief is that if you’re in a casino. You see a jackpot payout to another player, some may not bother with trying that machine because of the notion that a payout just occurred, so it won’t happen again.

Again, slots are random. We cannot emphasize that enough. Past spins do not correlate with future spins. 

While it’s mathematically unlikely that a jackpot is won and then the next spin is also a jackpot, it’s not impossible for it to occur. Play whatever slots you enjoy playing the most. These won’t tighten up after a win happens. 

Casinos Can Alter the RTP of Machines

While this is possible to do, there’s no way a casino could do that without regulatory approval. All casino play is monitored by in-state agencies like Gaming Control Boards, lotteries, or gaming enforcement entities. 

How to Identify Loose Slot Machines

As seen above, there are plenty of myths for identifying loose slot machines, but there are some tangible ways you can prepare yourself to spot what many consider a “loose” machine. 

Research Ahead of Time

Before going to a casino, see if you can find the machines they have on site. Research a few of them beforehand to get an idea of what the RTP for that machine is. 

Try Machines That Are More Visible

While we mentioned this isn’t always the case, you can research the casinos ahead of time that tend to have higher RTP and play the more visible machines. The concept here is that those machines will pay more often to entice players to keep playing. 

Play at Reputable Locations 

Again, using the links we mentioned above, you can look at what casinos in what region tend to payout better. Consider visiting those for more overall upside, but remember that slots are inherently random. 

Ask Staff Members

This could be hit or miss, but it never hurts to ask a staff member. They could point you in the right direction based on their experience working the floor, but again, there’s always the random element. 

The Type of Slot Itself

If you want to play a progressive jackpot slot, these will have lower RTPs than those that aren’t simply because of the ever-increasing payout. 

Understanding RTP and Slot Volatility of Loose Slot Machines

RTP, or Return to Player Percentage, is a metric for slot machines that demonstrates how often a machine pays out over time. For example, a machine has a 96% RTP; this means that, over time, $96 of every $100 wagered will be paid back to players. There’s a 4% house edge.

Many consider loose slots to have higher RTPs than “tight” machines. These are sought out by players hoping to win more often. 

Then there’s the element of volatility. This is used to assess the risk level of a slot machine and can dictate the overall frequency and size of potential payouts. Low-volatility games come with more upside for winning, but smaller payouts whereas high volatility is the opposite—less frequent payouts, but bigger rewards. 

RTP and volatility massively impact the gaming experience, and what matters most is the type of player you are. If you’re someone who likes to win more often regardless of the amount, consistently playing high volatility slots could become frustrating. 

Researching this for prospective slots you’re interested in ahead of time could save you a lot of time and money. 

Progressive vs. Non-Progressive Loose Slots

We briefly mentioned progressive slots above, and to reiterate, these are slots with jackpots that continuously increase until they are won. These are often low RTP and high volatility slots because, again, the payout potential is massive. Inside the “genre” of progressive slots, though, there are stand-alone games, in-house, and wide-area. These can refer to progressive slots that only build upon themselves, slots that combine winning pools with other slots, and those that are linked to multiple casinos.

As for Non-Progressive games, these have fixed jackpots that are predetermined. So, if you win a jackpot with these, you know what amount you’re getting. 

For these, if you want the thrill of a big win, go for progressive. If you want a chance at a jackpot but also want to settle for more of a chance at winning a fixed amount, pursue non-progressive games. 

This goes back to loose versus tight—progressive slots could be considered “tight,” whereas non-progressive are considered “loose.” 

Casino Strategies for Slot Placement

We mentioned before that there’s no universal rule for how casinos place their slots throughout their game room floor, but we’d be lying if we said it never happened. 

As mentioned before, with the shopping line, suggestive selling is real in all industries. It could be successfully argued that casinos that place slots in a highly visible area, especially when you first walk in and prospective players see active players winning, could encourage play from others. 

Also, housing these slots near convenient locations like a bar or somewhere to eat could encourage people even more. They can consolidate their activities—eat and drink here and not venture too far to a slot where others were seemingly winning consistently. 

This is a win-win for everyone: Players can win more often than usual, enjoy the amenities, and the casino will make money. 

However, we want to stress again that slots are random, and there’s a psychological aspect to all of this. If you can reconcile that while something may appear to pay out more often, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will play and have fun. 

Another thing to look for is slots near popular table games. This could allow players to play the slot, glance over, see a card game going on, and want to jump in there next. 

Player Experiences with Loose Slots

When you browse the web for player experiences playing loose slots or slots in general, you find a wide variety of experiences. Some have a more nuanced approach, but others don’t. 

For example, a thread on Trip Advisor shows a poster asking about the legitimacy of loose slots and another person commented with their experience: 

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“Just got back from Vegas and the slots were the tightest I have ever experienced in the 10 years that I've been going. I don't care what people say that they can't make the machines "tighter", seems to me that something has definitely [sic] changed. It wasn't just that I wasn't hitting ANYWHERE from Mandalay Bay to the Hilton and everything in between. I saw no one else hitting either, and I played at all different times of the day and night.”

Quote Open

As you can see in that post, that user discussed numerous myths we discussed above, including location and the time of day. 

To us, these games are completely random. This player may not have won, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the machines were tighter. Again, there are regulatory procedures these casinos must follow. 

To be frank, unfortunately, that player just had lousy luck as, again, slots are completely random. The player is simply trying to reconcile why he didn’t win. It’s no one’s fault. It’s just how slot machines operate. 

Technology's Role in Slot Machine Payouts

The evolution of technology has impacted slot machine payouts in massive ways over the years. Honestly, the notion of “loose” versus “tight” might’ve been a thing before certain technology was introduced, but again, that’s difficult to say with confidence these days. 

Of course, the introduction of RNG has made it so no one can predict what will happen next with a spin. This allows players a fair chance at winning as opposed to casinos influencing the results of games. 

Then there’s RTP and payout algorithms. Machines nowadays are programmed with RTP implemented into their software. These can be altered remotely, but not without approval. 

There’s even more technology, though, such as linked machines for progressive jackpots, analytics on player behavior, and an overall enhanced user interface to make it more appealing aesthetically to play. 

If the evolution of technology has ushered in anything, it’s fairness for the player. There’s more transparency than ever. 

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

We’ve mentioned numerous times throughout this guide that there are regulations that these casinos need to abide by. 

These include things like licensing, complying with gambling laws in that state and jurisdiction, adhering to technical standards and receiving certification from independent testers, advertising the product honestly, and providing players with responsible gaming resources. 

All of this comes together to create not only fairness for the player but holding casinos in compliance so that the “fairness” isn’t altered too heavily in their direction. 

We mentioned there are in-state agencies that oversee this. They ensure that games are fair based on audits. These audits look into whether or not there is certification from outlets like eCOGRA or GLI that say a game is fair. 

Each state is different in terms of requirements, so it’s important to always research your state to see what their laws are regarding minimum payout percentages. 

Debunking Loose Slots: The Myth Behind Casino Payouts

  • Manage Bankroll: This is a tip as old as casinos themselves, but setting a budget and sticking to it regardless of whether a slot is perceived to be “loose” or not ensures that you won’t chase losses and that you’re playing through a lens of entertainment. 

  • Test Various Games: Feel free to roam around the game room floor and try different games. Set a specific number of spins per game see how you do at each and get a feel for which you enjoy most. 

  • Read Reviews: Before playing at a machine, read reviews online of others’ experiences.  Engage with communities to receive insight into each title. 

  • Look Into Promotions: These are far more common online, but check out what promotions might be available and how they can benefit your experience. 

  • Decide What Type of Player You Are: Do you like to win more often? Play low-volatility games. Do you want to pursue a massive payout? Playing progressive slots

  • Remember Slots Are Random: There are a lot of myths we laid out above, but remember that no matter what, slots are always going to be random from spin to spin. 

  • Play Responsibly: Above all else, play smart and responsibly. Never wager more than you can afford. Always play with the mindset of entertainment. Treat it like going out to the movies. Never chase losses. Lastly, if someone you know or yourself is struggling, contact 1-800-GAMBLER.



What are loose slot machines?

The term “loose slot machines” was created by players as a way to distinguish slots that are perceived to pay more often based on factors like time day or the week. The belief is that the casino throttles payouts or increases them, which simply isn’t true. There’s some truth to casinos putting games that payout more often in a more visible part of the casino floor, but there aren’t actually any “loose slot machines”—there are some that simply payout more than others. 

A casino is not allowed to fluctuate the payouts of a machine with approval from the in-state governing agency like a Control Board or Division of Gaming Enforcement.


How do I identify loose slot machines?

Again, there’s no way to do so, but that said, some casinos may put certain slots in more visible areas that have better odds of paying out in the hopes of encouraging more players to play.


Can casinos tighten loose slot machines?

Casinos cannot simply tune slot machines on their own. While this can be done remotely, they often need to seek permission from the in-state regulatory agency to do so.


Are slot machines looser during the week?

Again, before any slots can be altered, permission and regulatory oversight must be required. The time of day is a common myth for loose slot machines.


If I play a loose slot machine and win, should I leave it?

Again, all slots are random. Just because you win at one doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t win again. Playing what games you enjoy for entertainment purposes.

Loose Slot Machines Conclusion

We’ve reached the end here, and we hope that you’ve come away with a better understanding of loose slot machines and, more importantly, their myths and realities. Some casinos may do things to entice players, but overall, it’s important to remember to play slots as entertainment and recognize that everything is random. 

This isn’t the “Wild West” anymore—casinos cannot do whatever they want whenever they want. There are protections in place to keep games fair and safe for all players. 

So, if you’re headed off to a casino soon, keep this page in mind and refer back to our tips and strategies for how to approach “loose” slot machines moving forward.

Richard Janvrin
Richard Janvrin

Richard Janvrin has covered slots and the entire casino landscape since December 2018. Earning a BA in English/Journalism, Richard’s career began in sports in 2015, and now, in addition to sports, Richard covers iGaming, including online casino reviews, slot reviews, game guides, how-to guides, and detailed blog posts about all facets of the industry. In addition to SciPlay, Richard has covered the industry at numerous outlets, including, The Game Day, WSN, and more. Richard aims to inform readers with information he wished was available when he entered the industry and began playing.