Truth in Gambling Superstitions: Slots RTP Prevails

Do you have some superstitious belief about slot machines? Maybe you had a great winning streak while wearing your favorite shirt, and now believe that wearing that shirt will give you a better chance of winning. Maybe you think a machine can ‘call out to you‘ in some way when its getting hot. Many slots players entertain such gambling superstitions, but can such notions ever overcome pre-programmed slots payback percentages?

Gambling Superstitions

Gambling Superstitions

I’ve seen some casino goers do some strange things over the years. I once sat near an elderly lady who constantly spoke to her machine in a soothing voice. ‘Come on baby, be good to Momma’, she would say, while gently stroking the side of the machine. Before she left, her tone had changed. ‘Come on machine, give me something!’, she argued, going so far as to backhanding the screen before she left.

A good friend of mine believes that he can scroll through the slots menu of an online casino, and swears one will eventually develop an ‘aura‘ around it. He says that means it’s calling to him to play, and insists that he wins more often when this happens.

Some people will only play a slot machine if it feels hot. Like, physically hot. They walk through the casino laying a hand on the machines until one feels warmer than the rest. They believe it means the machine is ready to ‘get hot‘.

Others will only play at certain times, or on certain days. I once met a woman at a casino who said she only comes on Sundays between the hours of 10am and 4pm. She had one of the strangest gambling superstitions of all, theorizing that the casinos actually set the slots to pay out more during that time, and less at other times.

Aside from that last one, I can’t really disprove any of these theories. Luck and superstition are subjective things. Maybe some people have luck and some don’t. Maybe a strong mental focus and positive attitude can affect the cosmic waves of energy around us, providing an added boost in fortuity.

What I do know is that every machine is programmed with slots payback percentages, or RTP (return to play), and they cannot deviate from that path over the long term.

Rules Of Slots RTP

Every slot machine in the world, whether it’s at a land-based or online casino, is programmed by its manufacturer to deliver a very specific payout percentage. It could range anywhere from as low as 75% up to 97%. The Slots RTP value will determine how much the machine pays out, compared to what it takes in. For players, the higher the slots payback percentage, the better.

For example, a 75% RTP slot (the minimum legal limit in Las Vegas) would pay back $75 for every $100 it accepts in wagers. That would put the house edge at 25%. A machine with a 97% slots RTP would pay $97 for every $100 wagered, giving it a 3% house edge.

It’s worth nothing that – except for the terribly low odds in Vegas – the global average for minimum RTP in land-based slots is 87.5%. Online slot machines actually pay much higher, averaging 95-97% RTP.

Slots don’t meet their RTPs with each $100 wagered, though. The percentage it’s programmed to pay will be met, but this will occur over the lifetime of the machine. And the use of random number generators (RNGs) makes it impossible to tell when a hot or cold streak might occur.

The RNG and RTP combine to eliminate all predictability from slot machines. A game could payout its jackpot twice in the same day, or skip paying the jackpot for several years straight. Even the casino operators and slots manufacturers are unable to tell when a big win is coming.

Those with deep-rooted gambling superstitions seem to think they’ve got it all figured out. But in reality, it all comes down to luck. And as noted above, one of those superstitions – wherein some believe the casinos can alter the slots payback percentages at will – can be debunked.

There is no magical button to alter the payouts of a slot machine. Changing a game’s RTP requires altering the computer chip inside the machine. A specialized technician would have to come in, physically remove the chip, reprogram it for a different RTP and then reinsert it into the machine.

This could take several hours to accomplish; much longer considering the vast number of slot machines found in land-based casinos.


  • Trevor Hallsey

    Passionate webmaster, devoted card game enthusiast, and proud son of the Great White North. With over a decade of iGaming experience, Trevor has launched numerous web portals to share his passion for game theory and all things Canadian gaming. With this site, he acts as a fact checker and mostly writes at the intersection of gaming and finance. He aims to offer statistical insights and unique information that you might see lacking in similar sites.

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