The Myths vs. Reality section of this site is designed to attempt to respond to true, false and misleading statements seen in various slot communities in an effort to encourage healthier thinking around slots and gambling in general.
The questions you see here are real and sometimes come from communities I frequent. If it’s being asked there, others are wondering the same thing, I’m sure. So the headline may throw a really obvious question out there, but some are worried about it, and we should address it.
So do casinos purposely and willfully pay less than they’re legally allowed to do in an effort to take more of your money?
Status: No. No no no.
Casino games are mathematically designed to earn money from you in the long run. Casinos can make decisions about what paybacks they want based on choices they make on a slot machine’s payback in the allowed settings, or deciding if they’re going to do 6/5 Blackjack instead of 3/2 Blackjack or even 000 Roulette. You can look at how strong or weak video poker tables are as well. Players can see the decisions being made in other parts of the casino to determine if the casino’s going to giving you good chances elsewhere.
The reality is most people will play the watered down rules because they see it as entertainment, and aren’t stressing about it. Those who gamble regularly, or want the best chances to win, will avoid those like the plague, but plenty of others will play it.
What they won’t do is risk a very lucrative stream of money in the interest of greed by breaking the law. Many states have minimum payout thresholds. Slot manufacturers have to get their games certified using independent experts to evaluate whether the paybacks they promise based on the game’s design are actually possible, and offer payback percentages that are legal in the jurisdiction they’re offering the games. Casinos have to be certified or licensed in most cases, and sign agreements in their jurisdictions that guarantee the games are fair.
Casinos have enough ways to make money – breaking the law to try to get more of it isn’t the way they’ll go do to it. They’ll lower paybacks on games, or require higher minimum bets, which put more of your money against the house edge. They have plenty of levers they can pull to generate more revenue.
What we as players need to be conscious of is if we’re beginning to feel that the games aren’t fair, we should evaluate why we’re gambling to begin with. We need to understand we’re playing games that in the long run, we’re expected to lose. We need to remember this is our entertainment budget, or at least it should be, and if we’re betting with anything else we probably shouldn’t be in the casino.
And most importantly, we should presume that while the games are designed to favor the house, they will be played fairly. If we can’t, gambling might not be for us.