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Can Casinos Set Slot Machines to Pay Only Small Amounts?

15 November 2008

By John Robison

Thanks for you wonderful columns.

My question is:

Will every slot machine in a casino eventfully make a large pay off, or can the casinos set some of the machines to only pay off small wins over a long period of time?


Dear Robert,

Thanks for the kind words about my column.

All jurisdictions require that a combination displayed on the paytable must be possible on every spin.

The only way a casino can make a machine pay off only small wins is to have only small wins on the paytable. If there are any winning combinations that pay a large amount, the machine will hit them eventually.

Some jurisdictions are considering regulations to put a limit on how unlikely it can be to hit a winning combination. (At one slot seminar I attended, a regulator made a slight exaggeration when he said that the jackpot on one machine presented to them was so unlikely that the machine could have been played non-stop since the Last Supper and it still would not have hit its jackpot.) The limit usually mentioned is 1 out of 50,000,00, which is roughly your odds for hitting the jackpot on a Megabucks machine.

If a combination is on the paytable, it has to be possible -- but it doesn't have to be likely.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots