Slot machines are unlike most other casino games. Their payout ratio is not based on mathematical equality – at least, not anymore. In the old days, a mechanical slot machine was made up of rolling drums. Each drum contained a specific number of symbols. If you multiplied the numbers of symbols per reel together, you knew the likelihood of striking the jackpot.
For example, a slot machine with 5 reels and 12 symbols on each reel should be able to land on (12*12*12*12*12) 248,832 possible combinations. If five jackpot symbols award a jackpot prize, and there’s one jackpot symbol per reel, there should be a 1 in 248,832 chance of striking that jackpot. It’s basic math. It couldn’t be any simpler! But times have changed.
Today’s machines do not work that way. They are entirely digital, whether you’re playing at a log-in or walk-in casino. As players, we rarely know how many symbols populate each reel, but I assure you there’s far more than 12, and many of them are repeats of the lowest-paying variety. It really doesn’t matter how many there are, because the win rate is determined not by symbolic probabilities, but by a numeric algorithm.
Modern slot machines are programmed to display results on an RNG system. An RNG, or random number generator, is constantly spinning through digits of a long, unpredictable algorithm. Every nanosecond the numbers are changing. The moment you press the Spin button, they come to a stop, telling the machine what symbols to place in each position.
In this way, games are entirely random and unpredictable. You might see no jackpot win for months at a time, or two jackpots hit back to back. Even the casinos and the game’s manufacturers cannot predict the results.