Are They Changing Paybacks With a Mouse Click?

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Brian using his brain

Get your myth busting detective gear on, folks, as we’re in for a doozy of one today:

Given that they can change the percentage payback with a mouse click in a back office, why would one stay on a machine one just nailed a handpay with and still play the same machine while waiting for said handpay? Move to another machine (they’re all [server-based gaming] now anyway) where they are less likely to automatically change the percentage before you’re playing (Indian casinos only; LV regs dictate the player is notified of percentage changes).

R. Jones

Myth. All of it. When you start with something that’s wrong, and continue down the path with something that’s wrong, you run the high risk of your conclusions being wrong. We’re going to take this one piece by piece.

Changing Payback With a Mouse? Myth.

Casinos, even the tribal casinos you claim can do this, don’t do this. Just because they’re computers don’t mean you can do this in the end. 

Some tribal casino gaming commissions have rules that are stricter than Vegas when it comes to things, such as having a gaming commission official on site when certain elements of the machine are being opened up or changed.

People love to claim tribal casinos can do all these things because they’re not regulated in the same way as, say, a commercial casino in Nevada, but many of these operators also operate in commercial states with reputations to manage, and many tribal gaming commissions look to the more established rules in states like Nevada and New Jersey to set their rules.

And by the way, you’re working under the assumption that your winning some amount on a slot has any sort of major impact on the casino that they need to take it back from you, like, now. You’re not. Casinos want, and realistically need, winners to help underscore that element of possibility, beyond the picture of the big check, but people actually going home with something at least part of the time. 

Meanwhile, slots are going to make casinos oodles of money in the long run – all they have to do is turn them on and let them do their work. No one’s paying attention to you from some room, targeting you – that’s the type of thinking that makes us encourage players who are that worried to stay home. It’s not healthy to be gambling under that mindset.

You Can’t Win on a Machine You Just Won On. Myth.

Even if the payback setting was changed, the outcome is still random – winning and losing combinations are in the machine, and the random number generator is working within them. 

Casinos set to minimum payouts pay handpays too, and what has happened on a machine doesn’t mean it can’t happen again, regardless of payback setting.

So moving machines accomplishes nothing. It neither helps you nor hurts you. If it makes you feel better, great, but it’s not anything that will improve your chances just because you hit something on the last machine.

They’re All Server Based Gaming Now. Myth.

SBG stands for server based gaming. Some players fear these systems based on articles written 15 years ago about their potential. Here’s the thing – they never took off.

We’ve spoken to most major manufacturers and they said the promise of server based gaming never took off and that ultimately very few casinos even bothered. Kevin Sweet, who is at the Rio now but used to be at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, had this to say a couple of years ago while still at the Cosmo about server based gaming:

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. 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.

Kevin Sweet

So that’s not at issue either.

Nevada Regulations Require Players to be Notified of Changes of Payback. Myth.

Even this isn’t quite right. Games can’t be updated while you’re playing them or while credits are in the machine in Nevada, per the rulebooks. A game must be idle, then can be updated, and must be idle again after the change. Again, this presume server-based changes. But it doesn’t require any sort of indication that the reason for these steps is to change paybacks, so you won’t see a message on the screen explaining what’s happening.

Still, if casinos were updating the paybacks of a bunch of machines, you’d be seeing machines all around you rebooting, because a change in setting requires a set of security checks and restarting the game. If that were happening, we’d surely be seeing social media videos of this weird thing happening at casinos, right?


If you’re in the same mindset as this submission writer, please don’t gamble. There’s plenty of reasons why this has red flags about the distrust of casinos. If this is your mindset, there are other entertainment options to spend your money on.

Casinos don’t need to do anything untowards to make their money. And if you happen to have a winning session? Great, because the odds of you winning in the long term are practically zero, and they don’t need to click any computer mice to accomplish that.

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