Myths vs. Reality Slot Payback

Do Slot Machines Pay Back Better at the Beginning or End of the Month?

Payback Percentage screen
Written by Joshua

It feels like there’s plenty of permutations of this type of question out there. On a video I did with The Jackpot Gents, a player asked this question:

I’ve heard that the end of the month is the best time to go to the casino because they are required to pay out so many jackpots per month so If they haven’t met that number then you will have better luck. Is this true?

Funnily enough, on a social media forum I saw another player ask the exact opposite question:

Should I wait until the new year to play? It would seem casinos would lower payouts at the end of the year to make more money, and then loosen them up in the new year.

Now, we already know casinos don’t change payouts because of time of day, day of week, because a debt payment is due, because a slot is new, whether it’s cash, a ticket or freeplay and so on. So the answer remains the same here – they don’t change it because it’s the beginning or end of a month.

So the answer is: Neither. They pay back the same over time, regardless of when you visit the casino.

But let’s look at both of these scenarios specifically and understand why this isn’t the case.

In the example of jackpots, casinos to some degree don’t actually have control over how many jackpots are hit, in part because one factor in how often they hit is what a player is betting.

Jackpot handpays are based on an arbitrary number, currently $1200. Getting a jackpot on a $1 bet means you have to win 1,200 times your bet – definitely difficult, although not impossible. If you’re betting $10 a spin, now you only need to win 120x your bet – not easy, but definitely easier.

If you have a lot of lower limit players in your casino, the number of handpays is likely going to be lower, and conversely if you have a lot of high limit players, it’ll likely be more, for the simple reason of what people are betting and proportionally what the payouts will be.

Casinos are regulated not on jackpot counts, but instead payout percentages. Many markets have regulations on what the payback percentage must be at a minimum, whether for the casino or by machine, usually both. For instance, lottery-run machines in New York must all pay back at least 90 percent, even penny denomination games, which means those games will pay back better than most penny slots in nearby states.

So casinos don’t have to pay out a set number of jackpots – generally they just need to maintain overall payouts that are in a range. Or, their corporate mandate (for those as part of larger chains) will likely follow the corporate ranges that the company wants to achieve. In either case, these paybacks are set and left alone as the machine will do its job over time.

Similarly, casinos don’t need to race to make money at the end of a year – slots are plenty profitable year round, and the machines will make plenty of money for the casinos. Slots have among the worst overall payback of games on the casino floor – table games (even carnival games), video poker, and even video keno will tend to pay better, especially compared to lower denomination slots. (Live keno, on the other hand, pays back worse than slots, but its slow pacing will tend to lead you to not lose that much money.)

So there’s no need to knock down payouts at particular points – they’re going to make plenty of money. If they’re struggling at the end of the year, it’s for other reasons that need their own examination.

Instead, it’s better to review what promotions are going on, and visit the casino when you can maximize your opportunity, whether it be point multipliers, stacked casino offers, and so on.

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.


  • How do you become a slot tech with no experience and is it a good living like how much an hour or a year or month plus opportunity to advance etc. Is it an enjoyable job and are you allowed to play the slots as a tech and be a gambler in your free time legitimately as a tech. Questions and want for info abounds here.

    Mike out in Texas

    • Hey Mike – I’ve never been a slot tech so I don’t have a good answer for you, but in case others on the site reading this are, I’m posting your comment! I do know many casinos bar players from gambling at their own casinos if you work there, especially if you work on the gaming floor, so that’s the one thing I can add to the conversation.

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