Do Slot Machines All Have the Same Rate of Return?

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Do all slot machines pay similarly? That’s the crux of today’s question:

Do slot machines all have the same rate of return or is it the bigger your bet, the better the return rate is?


No, slots are all designed to pay within a similar range, but it’s not exactly the same.

As covered here previously, slot machines tend to be designed with a half a dozen payback options, often in the range of 85 to 98 percent, with a couple of percentage points separating each of the options.

Slot mathematicians don’t work to hit a precise number, and casinos tend to round numbers a bit themselves – a 90.25% game and an 89.75% game will both be around 90 percent to a casino, so if they want their slots at a certain denomination to pay 90 percent, both of those settings will be OK.

So individual games may not be designed to the precise number but close enough.

As far as what setting a casino will choose, it’s safe to assume that most casinos choose the one closest to what they want a particular denomination to pay, as referenced above. But as the denomination increases, casinos tend to offer a better payback percentage, because it’s expected that the bets will be higher so more money will be flowing through a machine.

In practice, this may not always be the case – the new 9-line Top Dollar machines are a $10 bet at $1 denomination, while you can max bet the new Super Bowl Jackpots game on penny denomination at a $20 bet – but the belief stubbornly continues by floor directors on a casino floor.

So, getting to your second part of the question, it’s not about the bet size either – betting bigger alone doesn’t guarantee a better long-term payback. Instead, denomination is more what matters.

This is why playing a single line quarter or dollar denomination machine may often times be a better bet than a similar sized bet on penny denomination, at least in the long term. Certainly short term variance can mean big jackpots or big losses, but in the long term, casinos still reward higher denomination players with better payback.

So unfortunately neither of your proposed ideas are true on the casino floor – instead, check those denominations and look for the right bet options for your budget to find the best balance.

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