Tuesday, March 23, 2010

RNGs and Casinos Setting Slot Machines to Cheat You? Anything to it?

There has been talk about casinos altering slot machines outcome through what is called secondary decisions. In other words, some people seem worried that a slot machine program can be set to accept or reject any combination of results from the random number generator (RNG), which would dictate to the slot machine to stop and pay or reject and continue to the next number in the RNG sequential alignment. Does this control the payout rates?

I would have to emphatically say "no" here. First of all, these so-called secondary decisions were banned in Nevada just after computerized slot machines appeared in casinos. New Jersey, Connecticut and Mississippi have also followed suit. So slot machines cannot refuse an outcome and go on to another RNG number. At least not legally.

Casino regulators take secondary decision bans very seriously. Back in 90s, a greedy slot machine route operator decided to test the waters with his slot machine cheat scams by avoiding paying out on the royal flushes hit on his machines. He installed a sub-program into his video poker machines. The result was that each time a royal was hit, a secondary decision was triggered to switch a card. He ended up getting convicted of felony cheating at gambling and served time in prison.

The reason Nevada gaming officials first banned secondary decisions was because the early Universal computerized slot machines selected an outcome from a pool of all possible winning outcomes, along with a weighted number of losers. When a winner came out, that result was displayed on the reels. When a loser came out, a secondary decision was made to show a losing combination on the reels.

However, at the time, this was not considered slot cheating because nothing in the program was actually cheating slot players or changing odds. Winning combinations were not replaced by losers. But the practice led people to question the true randomness of slot machines, which ultimately led to the secondary decision ban.

Remember that brick and mortar casinos know that the simple odds of legitimate slot machines will always keep them operating in the black. That said, there is absolutely no reason for them to revert to secondary decisions that are now strictly illegal and could result in large fines and loss of gambling licenses. So...don't worry about casinos rigging their slot machines against you.

What about online slots? There, I can't really help you. Although we haven't heard of any major online slot machine scams, they could indeed be going on. But I doubt the level of online slot machine cheating will ever come close to the cheating level we see in online poker.