The evolution of electronic and online slots

  • May 9, 2021

It didn’t take long for the typical mechanical slot to evolve to the electronic equivalent and before long, the electronic slots developed into the online slot we all know and love.

The mechanical internals of the slot was swapped for a digital one and instead of gears running the reels from a pull of the lever, motors were used to spin the combinations of symbols, leaving the lever for purely nostalgic reasons.

Compare this to online and you’re now just clicking your mouse or tapping your screen over a button labeled ‘spin’ and trusting it to be fair.

There may have some serious steps forward, but to understand exactly how the online slots work, it’s important to know the logic behind them to make a valid judgment as to how fair the online slot actually is.

How the online slot works 

Online slots are different to both electronic and mechanical in that they don’t exist at all situs slot pragmatic in the physical space, but instead in the digital world as a series of algorithms.

The slot may be designed in an attempt to mimic the reels of the past, but don’t be fooled by flashy graphics and exciting features – the games are simply lines of code that you’re playing through the screen.

So what are the algorithms in place and what do they mean for our winnings?

Return to player (RTP) rates 

The first number that we’re taking into account is the RTP rate and is featured across all three different forms of slot machines.

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The return to player (RTP) rate is the percentage that a player should expect to win back of the sum that they’ve entered into the machine. Usually, you’ll find the RTP set around the 95% mark to lure players into believing that they’re not actually losing all that much money by keeping their win rates high.

In mechanical slots, this value is typically unknown due to the nature of the ‘random’ internals, but with electronic and online slots, the number is predetermined and written into the software when the game is created.

The minimum theoretical payout percentage is defined by law or regulation but varies depending on the jurisdiction.

In the state of Nevada, this percentage stands at 75%, in Mississippi, it’s at 80% and New Jersey sticks at 83%.

Any less than this and the slot machine is breaking the rules and will be subject to legal action if discovered.

Historically, many casinos, both brick-and-mortar and online, have been unwilling to publish the data surrounding their machines RTP values, making it impossible for players to know the theoretical return on the games they’re playing. However, particularly recently, these figures have been reaching the public domain via the release of information from casinos and the independent studies of gambling authorities.

RTP and variance

The return to player isn’t the only figure that’s of interest to players of the casino, the variance is perhaps of equal importance when picking a slot to play.

In theory, the higher the RTP rate, the less chance of losing significant sums over a long period of time you should expect.

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Of course, this should only be used as a guide and it should be noted that those with lower RTP rates commonly offer increased opportunities for bigger one-off wins.

This effect is due to the impact of variance, a term describing the type of payout that should be expected from a slot machine.

A slot that boasts a high variance will pay out less frequently but will pay out large sums when a player finally wins.

The opposite is true for slots claiming a low variance with players find payouts more often but in smaller denominations.

Regardless of variance, RTP should be the main figure of interest and regardless of what type of wins you’re hunting down, the larger RTP values should always be the main focus and make up the bulk of play.


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