14 Jan

Casino Game Fairness – Slots vs All Others

Learn why today’s slot machines aren’t fair (comparatively speaking).

A slot machine, by definition, is not required to play by the standard rules of probability. We know that in a fair blackjack game, our odds of being dealt an Ace from a full, 52-card deck, is one in 13. Why? Because there are 4 Aces in the 52 cards, and 52/4=13. It doesn’t take a savant-grade math wiz to figure this out.

The game of Keno works the same way. If 20 balls are drawn from a total of 80, we know that (20/80=0.25) 25%, or one-fourth, of all numbers will be drawn. Therefore, if we choose just 1 number, we have a 25% chance of winning. Again, that is, if the game is fair, meaning it follows the scientific laws of probability.

Slot machines do not work this way. At least, they don’t anymore. The original slots, with mechanical reels containing a fixed amount of symbols per reel, were fair games. Once slot machines became electronic devices, with digitized screen and computer generated results, all that got thrown out the window.

Why Today’s Slot Machines Aren’t Fair (Compared to Other Casino Games)

If you’re familiar with today’s digital slot machines – not just the online casino variety, but the ones in land-based casinos (cabinetry means nothing when they operate on the exact same software) – you’ve surely noticed that the symbols are impossible to count on each reel. Some even have “stacked” symbols, where every so often, the same symbol repeats any multiple of times. If there’s no designated number of symbols per reel, there’s no way to equate a probability for each reel depicting any given symbol.

It’s the unfair nature of the games that permits manufacturers to input whatever payout ratio they wish. This doesn’t mean that they’re ripping players off, mind you. It just means that they can set their own returns. If a game is set at 95% RTP, it will (over time) return 95% of all the bets it takes in as winnings. That much, at least, is mathematically predictable. But if you don’t know the RTP of a game, you’ll never know if you’re getting ripped off or not.

All this really proves is that you would do well to investigate the RTP of any game before choosing whether to play. It also suggests that any game with the name “slot” in the title, that does not reveal its RTP, should probably be avoided.

Case in point… Slot Bingo by SmartSoft Gaming

SmartSoft is one of those independent iGaming labs that you’ve probably never heard of. They’re based in Tbilisi, Georgia – the small Eastern European country, not the US state – where they’ve been building a modest iGaming platform since 2015.

While the company does boast RNG certification (i.e. fair games testing) from iTech Labs, it does not claim to have a regulatory license from any government body. On top of that, the few online casinos that currently employ the SmartSoft platform are licensed in Curacao or Georgia, neither of which demands fairness or any other form of player protection from its licensees. It’s kind of like when a cop asks for your driver’s license, and you show them a piece of paper signed by your mother giving you permission to drive her car. It means absolutely nothing.

That being said… let’s take a look at one of SmartSoft Gaming’s latest creations, Slot Bingo.

Slot Bingo is listed under the creator’s ‘Bingo & Keno’ games tab. However, it is neither a bingo game, nor a keno game. Not really. It is instead, as only the name implies, a slot machine, disguised as something you would expect to be more predictably fair.

Slot Bingo Unfairly Suggests 772% RTP

As we’ve already discussed, a standard keno game has predictable odds based on mathematical probabilities. Slot Bingo looks like a keno game. It has 80 balls, and draws 20 per round, just like keno. But the way it’s played, the lack of player choice in number selection, and most importantly, the drawing of those numbers, are far from standard.

Slot Bingo allows players to buy anywhere from 1 to 8 tickets per game. Each ticket has exactly 15 pre-selected numbers. You don’t get to pick which numbers you want, or how many numbers you want to bet on. It’s all pre-selected for you. You can’t even choose to play the same ticket(s) in the next round.

Now, if you look at the pay table (right), you’ll see that the payouts for this keno game are quite a bit higher than that of a standard game. With 15 numbers picked, you’d normally need to catch at least 5 just to break even. In this game, you win double your bet just for catching 2! By the laws of mathematical probability, a standard keno pay table comes with a 90.34% RTP, whereas Slot Bingo’s paytable suggests an RTP of 772%!

If the game were fair, that would be phenomenal! But it’s not. Why? Because it’s really just a slot machine in disguise. The numbers selected by the machine are predetermined, as are the numbers appearing on those cards. Don’t believe me? Go to their web site and take the game for a test run. Better yet, go read the analysis of Slot Bingo by Michael Shackleford, a.k.a. the Wizard of Odds. He came to the same conclusion – that the game suggests an unbelievable RTP, but that it is unquestionably unfair.

It is easy to conclude either the cards or the ball draw is not random. I don’t know exactly how they are doing it, but the numbers that appear least on the player cards are the most likely to be drawn.” – Michael Shackleford

There’s no telling what the actual RTP is on this game; not without running and anglicizing a million trials. Based on the demo games we have run, it’s easy enough to determine that Slot Bingo either has a terrible payout ratio, or a very high volatility (rare but high paying wins). The fact that they’re legitimately certified by iTech Labs (which adheres to the UK Remote Gambling and Software Technical Standards), I have to assume it’s the latter.

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