Myths vs. Reality

Does the Location of a Slot Machine Matter?

Mohegan Sun overhead slot floor
Written by Joshua

There are some players who believe that a slot machine’s location can determine whether it will pay well or not. One hypothesis is that machines on the end pay better; another is that machines located near the entrances or busy areas will pay better to entice players to come in on the floor.

STATUS: A modern casino floor doesn’t have such variances generally speaking; it may have been occasionally the case 10-20 years ago but consistency across machines is the norm on floors nowadays.

Multiple slot floor directors have spoken about how with more data and science, some of the rules of the day in the past are no longer practiced. And with new casinos opening up, there’s also new ways to observe how players play.

For instance, you can see progressives, which all start at the same numbers when a casino floor opens, go up faster on the ends vs. in middle machines. This indicates a players’ preference to sit down at a machine on the end, perhaps because of those beliefs.

But if players are playing them more often, it’s more likely to see a winner there, because there’s a player in those seats more often. This is sort of like the rapid fire discussion in a previous post; more play, more spins, more bonuses numerically (even if the payout itself is the same).

Similarly, machines near an entrance will get played more because there’s more traffic. Slot floors will generally put popular machines within view when players get in as well – higher trafficed areas will see more popular games, and that’s by design, because the games will stay busy if the games players want to play are easily found.

Meanwhile, interviews with multiple slot floor directors indicate that machines are set based on the casino’s goal for hold on the slot floor. Setting a given machine higher or lower doesn’t really do anything for the casino in the short term due to variance, and in the long term the fear (backed by some studies) is players can detect higher holds and avoid them.

So instead games are set based on the hold goals by denomination; since each slot has unique payback settings the casino will set it at the one closest to their goals and based on what else they have on the floor. So you won’t find a bank of machines where one is set to pay sizably higher than another, unless someone’s made a mistake.

It can happen; players routinely find Video Poker machines misconfigured (with public pay tables it’s easier to know), and it could happen on a slot too from human error, but the moment the math starts to veer in a direction that doesn’t make sense for what it should be set, the casino will take another look at that machine to make sure it’s set up correctly.

And while this post generally serves to knock down the myth, it’s certainly possible that a casino could be testing different holds to see if they want to move their floor over time to a different level, or that they are updating games over time. They could have a bank of machines they advertise as set to a very loose payback percentage. But there is generally not a deliberate effort to set machine A really high and machine B in the same bank really low, based on its location or within a grouping.

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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