Myths vs. Reality

Do Casinos Hack Slots to Make Them Pay Less?

Paris Las Vegas slot floor
Written by Joshua

For a group of people who go to casinos to gamble, I see a lot of surprisingly negative mindsets about casinos, mostly that they are out to get every dollar. One of the more grim beliefs I’ve seen a few people express is that casinos, not happy with the payout options on slots, hack them to lower the payouts even more.

STATUS: No. Take a breather, perhaps away from the casino, if you believe this.

Let’s start by reviewing the pretty well known points about casinos and casino games:

  • All games are designed with a house edge. Mathematically, the casino will make money in the long term on every game in the house. On games where it’s player vs. player, like poker, the casino will take a fee for these games to be played, and so even there they’ll make their money. (Are there exceptions in the short term? Sure; Advantage Play and the occasional miscalculation exists. But long term, these get smoothed out.)
  • Slots on any denomination or setting will already have one of the highest house edges, making them more profitable than just about any table game.
  • Casinos have a number of settings on a slot machine that can determine the long term payback of a slot, usually in some range between 85 percent or so at the low end and 98 percent at the high end (although the individual game design of each slot means they’ll differ by game, and sometimes by market).

Slots are already a workhorse for casinos with the options that are available, and they can make a lot of money off of them. So why would they go through the trouble of hacking slots to make them pay better? Let’s think about what that would entail.

  • For each game or type of machine, they would have to somehow reverse engineer the programming of the slot to be able to figure out the combinations and somehow further weight lower combinations to come out more often than bigger paying ones, or more losing spins, to get that lower payback.
  • They’d have to do this without tipping off the manufacturers, who many times are on site working on the machines, and whatever regulators they report to.
  • They’d have to deal with any bugs or issues with the software, and if the slot manufacturer themselves fixes bugs, they’d have to work through that with their hacks.
  • Slot manufacturers introduce new games and machine types all the time. They’d have to keep up with that.
  • Doing all that is incredibly expensive – way more than what they’d make off of such a scheme.

I’m sure there will be a few who will point to scenarios like American Coin, where they did indeed provide chips that were designed to underperform standard payouts, but such scenarios are not only rare, but will destroy the reputation of a company when found.

The reality is that casinos don’t need to go through such trickery. The slots are plenty profitable on their own without needing to hack them to pay more. But if you really do feel that the casinos can’t be trusted, you should consider why you’re going there in the first place – the games are ‘rigged’ but only through the known house edge that the games have – they will, over time, win your money. If you can’t accept that it’s a game of chance fairly designed with certain parameters, you might want to take a break from gambling, since it’s not the mindset to go into.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.


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