How Does Payback Work on Multi-Denomination Machines?

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Dragon Link Autumn Moon slot denominations

An increasing amount of machines on today’s casino floor are multi-denomination machines. A player was curious how payback works on those types of machines:

On multi denomination machines, does payback go up if higher denomination is used?


Multi-denomination machines don’t work exactly the same by manufacturer. Since we’ve been talking to game makers, we’ve heard about two ways payback can be managed on a multi-denomination machine:

  • In one design, payback can be set for each individual denomination. In this way casinos can choose to make paybacks the same or different at their discretion.
  • In another design, casinos choose a grouping of paybacks for the machine, with payback increasing with denomination built into the settings.

In the former scenario, casinos effectively have more granular options, being able to choose the payback option for each individual denomination. 

However, the choices they may get to choose from could change as the denominations change, because as the number of lines changes and other adjustments are made for higher denominations, so can the payout options. 

So what some casinos have done (an anonymized example was once shared by Kevin Sweet, who at the time was overseeing the Cosmopolitan’s casino floor) is that pairs of denominations will share the same payout.

For example, the 1 cent and 2 cent denomination versions of a low-limit Lightning Link machine both tend to be 50 lines, and so will effectively be the same game. Those two might share a payback level, but going to nickel and dime, where the line count is reduced from 50 to 25, that pair would be a step up and share the same payback as well.

In that case, stepping up to 2 cent doesn’t offer any meaningful improvement, but going to nickel could. 

For the latter example, it’s a more concrete confirmation in those games’ scenarios that the payback will indeed increase as the denomination rises, by design.

Of course, as players, we won’t know if a given casino chose to go that route or a different one. All we know is the public data, which shows a general trend of higher payback percentages as you move up in denomination.

So the general rule of thumb is still helpful to be followed, as the worst case is it’ll be the same payouts as that lower denomination choice, but the best case is it’ll be a bit higher, and over time mean better payouts for a player in the long term.

If your bankroll supports doing a higher denomination, it’s always worth considering as a result.

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