How Are Slot Machine Payouts Determined?

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5 Treasures slot payback information online

Here’s a simple question with a bit of a journey to go through the answer:

What determines what the payouts are in the machines?

Scott E.

There’s a few layers in play that determine the payouts. Let’s go through each in turn and the impact that they have on things.

Gaming Regulations

The first layer is gaming regulations. In many markets, minimum (and sometimes even maximum) payout percentages are established. This can also be the case for state compacts with tribes who are or will operate gaming establishments.

So, payouts will have to fall in those ranges for machines to be approved in that particular market.

Game Design

Manufacturers design games that meet those regulations. The game’s design itself determines how the money it will pay out is distributed over things like line hits, bonuses, features, progressives, and so on. 

Some games have a lot of features and the money is spread thinly, whereas some may not have any features or bonuses at all so the line hits are more robust.

Aside from the game design, multiple versions of a game will be developed, each with its own payback percentages. Most of the time something like a half dozen variations will be created.

Casino Decision-Making

This is where it’s handed off to the casinos for the final decision – what payout level they wish to offer on their casino floors, per denomination. Casinos get to select the options within the range offered by game makers, and allowed by regulations. 

If a casino wants to put a lower or higher paying variation on their floor, as long as it’s available and meets the rules, that’s their right.


So, that’s how slot payouts are established. There’s a combination of things that go into it, but it’s a well-honed process at this point.

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