Slot Machine Cheating

Modern technology means cheating slot machines is pretty much impossible, but that doesn’t mean the history of cheating is any less intriguing.

How to Cheat at Slots

Because all slots today utilize computer software and many don’t often take coins, it’s almost impossible to cheat them. The only way to cheat video slot machines or online slots would be to coordinate your play with a slot machine programmer who had direct access to a specific machine.

The casino could cheat the player, but it would make no sense since fair games bring in vast amounts of money for a casino. However, there have been instances where players and casinos have cheated at slots.

Wondering how they did it?

The most popular methods of slot machine cheats and tricks are listed below.

The Monkey's Paw

Tommy Glenn Carmichael created the ‘monkey’s paw’, which was fashioned from a piece of pliable steel and looked like a paw. He used it to get more cash than he should from a slot machine.

To use the device, the player would push the monkey’s paw into the payout receptacle and up into the payout spout until there was an audible clang. When the machine reels spun and hit a winning combination there was nothing to stop the free flow of coins. Thus, the player received a much bigger payout than intended.

Shaved And Stringed Coins

The shaved and stringed coin trick was a popular method of cheating. A player would take a coin and file it so that it could pass through the machine. The coin was attached to a string and a player would lower it into the machine, pull the arm, and the reels would roll. Because the coin was smaller than it should be and on a string, the player could then pull it out and use it again and again.

Yo-Yo Hack

The Yo-Yo slot hack, also known as stringed coins which we mentioned above, is done by tying a thin string around a coin before depositing it into a slot machine. Once you’ve put the coin in, you pull the string to retrieve the coin from the machine.

While this hack worked for coin operated slot machines in land-based casinos back in the day, it certainly won’t work for most machines today, and definitely not for online slots.

Magnet Hack

The magnet slot machine hack was used in the time of mechanical slot machines. To cheat the machine, the player would pull the handle and use a large magnet to try to stop the reels on a winning combination.

Another way was to wait until a winning combination was made, then place the magnet on the glass in front of the reels, put in coins, pull the handle, and the magnet would lock the reels in place to get more wins.

Making Light

One ingenious method for cheating slot machines was using light to confuse the slot’s sensors. The light was shined into the machine’s light sensor, which regulated the machine. By interrupting the sensor, which kept track of payouts, players were able to make a machine payout more times than it should.

Cheating the Code

Slots developers design slot machines to be monitored and audited while delivering high-quality gameplay. The games are tested by independent testing agencies, like eCORGA and Gaming Labs International, and the software providers are also licensed by regulatory bodies to prevent cheating.

However, there have been some instances where the game developers have rigged the code of the games. One example was when Nevada Gaming Commission engineer Ronald Dale Harris manipulated slot machines to provide better outcomes for himself. He cheated machines for years by knowing the source codes, and it wasn’t until he won $100,000 on a keno game in 1995 that his scam was realized.

Do Slot Machines and Casinos Cheat Players?

Slot machines aren’t designed to cheat players. Each slot game, whether online or in a land-based casino, is programmed to payout out at a specific rate. Once that rate is set, the slot, as long as it’s functioning properly, will offer payouts at the prescribed rate.

Any casino, whether land-based or virtual, has nothing to gain by cheating you, and they have a lot to lose. If slots were rigged at any casino, that gambling house would lose large numbers of players and a major amount of its profits. It simply makes no sense for any casino to take such a major risk just to enjoy a little more profit.

Online slots are big business and no casino is going to compromise its ability to make a daily profit on its biggest money maker by cheating players. However, there are some casinos that operate unfairly. You can find out more about these in our casino blacklist.

How to Ensure a Casino doesn’t Cheat you

If you’re concerned about a casino cheating you, there are a few precautions you can take to ensure the casino, and the slot machine you’re playing, is fair.

1. Check casino licenses and safety measures

As an added layer of protection, always play at an online casino that is licensed by a government entity, and play slot games that have been tested by an independent agency. Find out more about regulatory bodies for online gaming.

2. Check the payout rate of the slot

The slot machine’s payout rate, referred to as the RTP (return to player) percentage, should be available under the slot’s information and is easy to locate online. Only play at online casinos that are dedicated to accuracy and fairness and have their games monitored and audited regularly.

3. Look at online reviews

Finally, take some time to read reviews and check for complaints of any online casino you’re thinking of joining. Read our casino reviews and slot reviews for more information.


With the creation of computer software and video gaming, the ability to cheat at slots was removed. The only way one could cheat would be to in some manner hack the computer controlling the slot machine. Although there’s a possibility that could occur, it’s highly unlikely. Such an effort would take a huge amount of coordination.