Can Casinos Change Payouts By the Day?

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Spin button on an Ainsworth slot machine

Players oftentimes seem to worry about payouts on slots changing based on when a casino visit takes place. Here’s an example:

Can an RTP change based on the day I go to the casino? Essentially can fluctuate by the day.

Catherine J.

Theoretically, a casino can make a change to a slot machine’s payouts whenever it wants, within the range of options a game maker makes available to them, and as allowed by regulations in a given market.

In reality, casinos nearly never change payback options on machine. Why? Let’s go over the core reasons.

It Doesn’t Make Enough of a Difference

The average slot machine generates a couple hundred dollars a day in revenue for a casino, perhaps more or less depending on the market and the popularity of a given casino. Changing payouts by a couple of percent works out to a few dollars per machine per day, and that presumes things line up perfectly to average.

A casino could lower payouts and someone can still win a Grand progressive jackpot. A casino could raise payouts and players have an unlucky run. Tinkering with payouts is more trouble than it’s worth for the casinos.

It’s Not Always Easy

Regulations dictate how and when payouts can change, and some casinos take it further to ensure mistakes aren’t made or employees don’t have too much latitude. 

So sometimes, when certain actions are taken, a witness or a supervisor might be required. In some markets, an observer from the gaming commission might be required. Some markets require the machine to be opened up. In markets where it’s changed remotely, a machine may have to be idle and have no credits for a period of time, and then be taken out of service for a period of time.

When a game’s settings are changed, a reboot often is required, taking a machine offline for some period while it reboots. Casinos can’t realistically make these changes in bulk without taking a lot of games offline for a period, and going back to the first reason, doing it regularly doesn’t make much sense (or cents, really).

Players Won’t Know There’s a Benefit

Theoretically casinos might want to offer better payouts when the casino’s less busy, and worse payouts when it’s more busy, but how do you attract players during quieter periods if they don’t know it’s happening? Payouts aren’t advertised, after all. So there’s no marketing value to it.

It’s More Cost Effective to ‘Set it and Forget It’

Having the staff to be tinkering with the payouts is expensive, and may not even generate a benefit that’s enough to overcome that cost. Meanwhile, the financial part of an organization will have a financial target for slots, and the easiest way to hit that is set the slots for the payout that will get them there and leave them alone.

Slots have among the highest house advantage, especially on lower denominations, of any game in the casino. They’ll generate plenty of revenue, don’t require the levels of staffing of other types of games like table games, and can generate money for years on end as long as the electricity is working and the machine’s in good working order.

Takeaway

While casinos have some element of control over the payout of the machines, they have no real reason to do much to them once they’re set up. As such, you shouldn’t expect payouts to differ from one day to the next as far as a long term average. Certainly, short term experiences can vary widely, but that’s part of the magic of a slot machine.

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