What Are the Chances of A Winning Year on Slots?

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If you play slots a lot, can you really win? A player poses a specific example:

On average, if someone plays slots every day for an hr a day, what would be their odds of winning be in a 365 day calendar year?

Tricia R.

We appreciate the question, but can only really tackle this from a higher level perspective. We’re not that math minded (if we were we’d be probably making slots instead of writing about them), but others have done basic calculations on this.

The high level answer – it’s really small.

Have you ever ended the year ahead playing slots?

Here’s the results of a poll we did of players on Brian Christopher’s YouTube channel, and most have never had even one winning year in their lifetime playing. But let’s look to a bit more proper math.

One website did some basic calculations presuming a 95 percent payback (that’s high for physical casino slots, and average for online slots) and 300 spins an hour (which is slow – most games let you get 400-600 spins an hour in nowadays).

With those parameters, the chances of being ahead after a half hour is just 11 percent, and being ahead after five hours is just 1.5 percent. That’s based on 1,500 spins.

If you ever wondered why casino hosts tell players a few hours of daily play is an important part of getting perks through them, this is the reason why – it doesn’t take long for the casino to have the upper hand in the majority of visits.

But now, let’s consider if you can do 500 spins in an hour, and 365 days a year of playing an hour a day, per your example, you’re looking at something more like 182,500 spins in a year – 100 times the number of spins in their example.

So you can expect the chances of winning to be quite low. Presuming a 90 percent payback percentage (more likely the case on lower denomination machines), and $1 a spin, that’s an expected loss of $18,250 over the course of a year on that many spins.

How would you overcome that to be ahead? A few well timed jackpots, or perhaps one of those 1 in a million big Grand progressive jackpots (but even a grand alone wouldn’t be enough to fully close that gap). And doing that at $1 a spin is hard to pull off to begin with – some lower betting players go a lifetime without a handpay, let alone a Grand.

The reality is slots are designed to make money for the casino – winning on them over time is not something any player should expect. Sure, winning casino trips can happen, and big wins can still be particularly exciting. 

But each trip to the casino should be with an entertainment budget, and money a player can afford to spend, just as with a trip to an amusement park or to go out to dinner. The goal should always be to have fun, not make money. And hopefully the examples above help speak to why.

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