How Do Slot Machines Work?

Slots have long been a gambler's favorite, but how do these complex games work? How can you be sure they are safe? And perhaps most importantly, how do you win? Read on to find out.

How Online Slots Work

Online slots may not have the classic system of cogs and levers that their predecessors used to function, but there’s still a lot going on behind the reels.

Each online slot game uses a 'random number generator' (RNG). RNGs are the way that developers ensure the outcomes of a slot are always random, creating random number sequences every millisecond based on mathematical algorithms, meaning a new sequence is created each time the reels are spun on any online slot.

There is no memory or tracker involved in the process, meaning the result of a spin is unaffected by the results of any spins before or after, either by the player spinning the reels or any other person who may have played the slot that day. This guarantees a completely random result on every spin.

Despite having been in existence for decades at this point, online slots and online casinos still make us feel a little like we’re living in the future. Online casinos themselves, however, have no such issue with the reality of online gaming, having many years of experience in the industry to ensure the safety of all games and the security of players.

Online casinos carry licenses from regulatory bodies such as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA).

Part of the agreements between casino operators and these regulators, mean casino games are regularly audited and checked to ensure they are operating using random number generators. Regulators also check the firewalls and SSL encryption technology that ensures the safety of casino player information is constantly secure.

The Mechanics of a Traditional Slot Machine

So we've covered online slot games, but how do traditional slot machines work?

The first slot machines, three-reel fruit machines, worked on a complex internal system of gears and levers. A central shaft supports the mechanism that moves the reels, while a system of brakes stops the spin at random. There have been many approaches to this design, but the main one has been with three notched discs connected to the reels. There is then a kicker and a series of stoppers (one to go, one to stop) which work the reels.

Many things have changed in recent years, and the internal systems of a slot machine are now predominantly made up of computers and automated systems, but the old-school machines can still be found in the odd bar, pub, or arcade.

Can You 'Beat' A Slot Machine?

The RNGs used by all online slot machines (both real-money games and free slots) means the outcome of any spin will always be random, as a result, there is no way to ‘beat’ or ‘cheat’ a slot machine to guarantee a result.

There are no go-to tricks for winning at slot machines, even in a land-based environment (the days of a cheeky magnet making a difference are long behind us).

That doesn’t mean there are not strategies around how to win at slots that can be implemented by players, however. Strategies in gambling can be a risky path to tread, and it’s important to be aware of myths that can lead a player to believe an outcome can be affected, such as the Gambler’s Fallacy (the belief that the outcome of a spin of the reels, or a roll of the dice, is related to the result of the previous spin(s) or roll(s).

Playing slots with a higher RTP or variance can raise the chances of winning, for example. It’s also important to pay attention to the paytable. Money management (how much you bet, when to stop, etc.) is also important.

Playing online safely

Before considering the best ways to win, or anything else, you must first ensure that you and your money will be kept safe. There are a few things to consider here.

Casino Safety

Trusted casino sites will be licensed by a reputable regulatory body. This will ensure the casino follows all necessary protocols to guarantee the safety of you and your money, as well as your personal information and banking details. Some regulators, such as the UKGC, have a list of all licensed casinos on their website. This means if a casino claims to be licensed by the UKGC and you are not sure, you can double-check with the regulator easily.

Here at OSCOM, we take gambling security seriously and want our users to have not only a fun time but a safe time, too. We review online casinos regularly, and our team of experts is here to provide you with the best online options when it comes to playing slots, safely and securely.

Deposit and Withdrawal Methods

As safe as a gaming site is, your money can only be as safe as the weakest link in the chain between you and the casino itself. To make sure there is no weak link in the chain at all, it’s important to make your deposits and withdrawals via a trusted payment method.

The traditional method is via a debit or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, etc.). However, some players do not like to share their banking details with a casino. For these players, eWallets like NETELLER, PayPal, and Skrill are available, as are prepaid cards like Paysafecard.

Cryptocurrency payments including Bitcoin and Litecoin are accepted by an increasing number of online casino sites, but the lack of regulation around this modern currency means care should be taken if you intend to deposit in this way.

Problem Gambling

Of course, it isn’t only the casino that has to be safe, you must make sure you are too. Problem gambling and gambling addiction affect people around the world and can impact you and your loved ones. If you are worried that you or someone you know may be suffering from problem gambling, it’s vital to seek help as soon as you can.

Many excellent online resources can offer advice and support if you have any concerns. All our recommended online casinos also offer links to resources, as well as the option for players to self-exclude so they are unable to access real-money casino games.