Research

The Big Question: Are Online Slots Rigged?

It can sometimes feel like online slot games are fixed. Why else are you experiencing such a string of bad luck? Has this online slot been designed so you always lose? Are online slots rigged?

Author: Editorial Team February 1, 2021

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You can see why people might feel that they’re being cheated. After all, how do we know online slots aren’t rigged? We just tap a button and trust that all is fair and square. Surely, it’s in the game developers’ interests to rig online slots for maximum profit? They are businesses, after all.

But, in fact, the vast majority of online slots by reputable and licensed online casinos are totally ethical. So, if you’re wondering “are online slots rigged?”, here’s why they’re not.

RNGs Prevent the Rigging of Online Slots

Online slots function by means of a series of algorithms. The graphics resemble the real-life reels of old school mechanical slot machines. But behind the scenes, it’s just lines of code.

Online slot machines work using an RNG—or random number generator. This complex software uses code to generate strings of random numbers. So random, in fact, that there’s an equal probability of winning or losing for everyone who plays the online slot. Each spin is an independent event, and the results don’t affect future spins.

In theory, this means an online slot could dish out a jackpot to one player immediately after the previous player just won a jackpot. The RNG doesn’t remember past events and so the probability of a big win is the same for each player.

RTP Regulations Prevent Casinos from Rigging Online Slots

While RNGs ensure random numbers, they are calibrated so as to ensure a particular RTP— or return to player rate.

This means that, over millions, or even billions, of spins, a set percentage of the sum of money that a player enters into a machine will always be returned to them. And a certain percentage will always go to the casino, known as the ‘house edge.’

In online slots, the RTP is pre-determined unlike in mechanical slots. Typically, the RTP is around 95.5%, which means a house edge of 4.5%.

If the RTP varies from what they’ve declared, then the online casino could face action from the gambling authorities.

However, this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to win a certain amount. You need to take into account that the RTP works over an extended period of time. The machine only needs to maintain the RTP in the long-run and the long-run potentially means the entire life span of the machine. In other words, over billions and billions of individual spins.

That’s why you can experience a long stretch where you keep losing. You never know when the payout is going to happen.

It’s also how casinos can guarantee a long-term profit. If the RTP is 95% over the course of the machine’s life, the casino can guarantee a 5% profit.

So, if someone asks “are online slot machines rigged?” this is a good answer. Casinos don’t have to cheat in order to ensure they make money. They always win in the long term.

Licensing Also Ensures You Don’t Get Scammed

Regulatory bodies ensure that every part of online gambling meets certain requirements, from customer service to personal data security to RTP rates. These organizations also conduct regular check-ups to ensure online casinos and slot providers stick to the rules.

Before slot machines even reach the public, they need to undergo an in-depth analysis to check that the algorithms have created a fair and ethical game and that the gaming experience is safe and secure for players.

Checking an online casino’s license and reputation is a good idea for anyone asking “are online slot machines rigged?” Verify that their license number is legitimate by checking the relevant regulator for your country. It’s also worth sticking to the big-name providers who have been recommended or well-reviewed.

Online casinos aren’t obliged to share payback percentages, but many will have their games audited by external bodies like eCOGRA in the UK. These organizations will check that the game developer’s RTP percentage is indeed what they claim it is.