Slot machines were invented in the late 1800s; since then, they have come a long way from the classic fruit machines. Today, they rely on digital technology and are far more interactive.
However, with innovation comes more rumours about how they work and if they’re rigged, leading to the creation of many myths, including that of ‘loose’ and ‘tight’ slot machines.
As with all new casino slots, people are constantly inventing explanations to try to rationalise the results or convince themselves the outcome is not solely down to chance. The idea of a slot machine being set, by the casino, to payout more or less than others - has led to slot machines being labelled as ‘loose’ and ‘tight’.
Many players select which slots they play based upon these labels, but is there any veracity behind them?
Read on as we dive into the myths of ‘loose’ and ‘tight’ slot machines, as well as some of the other rumours surrounding real money slot games.
What Is A Loose Slot Machine?
A ‘loose’ slot machine is one that is supposedly set to payout larger sums than others.
These are the slot machines some players actively seek out in casinos, with many online sources claiming to be able to help players identify loose slots.
Players theorise that casinos use loose slots to keep customers playing while simultaneously attracting others passing by, who may see people win and might want to give it a spin for themselves.
What Is A Tight Slot Machine?
A ‘tight’ slot machine is just as you would expect, the opposite of a loose slot machine. Tight slot machines are allegedly set to payout smaller amounts than other slot machines.
As a result, some players tend to avoid these machines where possible.
The theory goes that casinos set slot machines to be tight in order to take in more money from customers after letting them see someone win on a loose machine, only for them to potentially end up on a tight one and get fewer returns.
Slot Machine Myths
Casinos Place The Loosest Slots Near The Entrance
This myth claims that casinos purposely situate loose slot machines near the casino entrance to drum up more business by getting passersby to enter and play.
The thought behind this is that if someone walking past sees someone winning a considerable amount on a slot machine, they are more likely to want to have a go.
So, to increase the chances of this scenario occurring, the casino places a loose slot machine by the entrance, so more wins will be seen as they may happen more.
Casinos Tighten & Loosen Their Slot Machines
The theory goes that the casinos are in control of which machines are loose and which are tight; this is to avoid players becoming aware of loose machines and exclusively playing them whilst avoiding the tight slots.
It also ensures the casino can control attracting players through the presence of loose machines, making them think they will win if they play, and then tightening machines to increase the money coming into the casino.
However, this is not true. There is not a switch the casino can flip to tighten or loosen a slot, as this would be against gambling regulations.
Loose Slots Are Always Surrounded By Tight Slots
This rumour holds that online casinos surround loose slots with tight ones, as it is not uncommon for players to play on more than one machine at a time. So, whilst the loose machine is paying out more significant sums and returning more money to the player, the one they are playing right next to it is tight and taking in more money for the casino.
Essentially the reasoning is that the casino tries to make money back through the tight slot machine, as they are losing it on the loose one.
Slots Are Tighter On Weekends
Many players think that slots are tighter on the weekends; this comes from the fact that casinos are usually busier on the weekend. So, whilst they may have more patrons, it is suggested that the casino wants to take in as much money as possible; therefore, they tighten the slot machines to payout less.
This again, is another myth with casinos.
Slots Adjust Themselves Based On How Many Players Win Or Lose
This myth suggests that the slots are able to track how frequently and how much they are paying out in order to keep patrons playing, whilst also taking in as much money as possible.
So, they payout when the player is on a losing streak to ensure they stay at the machine, but then cause a losing streak following a win to take in more money.
Ultimately, this is false as the slot machines use Random Number Generation (RNG) technology so that each spin, including wins, is an entirely independent event. So, just because you lost a spin doesn’t mean the next one will be a win, but just because you’ve won doesn’t mean that the next spin will be a loss.
There is no pattern or predictability; every spin is as if the machine has never been used before.
Branded & Celebrity Slots Are Tighter
This theory could hold water, to an extent, as the branded and celebrity slots are more likely to be more popular than other slots, so they may be made with lower RTP values and payout rates as they will likely have more players.
The Truth About Slot Machine Randomness
Slot machines use Random Number Generators (RNGs) to produce an outcome that is random, or as close to random as possible. The reason we say close to random is that the technology behind this cannot recreate natural entropy - true unpredictability.
The conditions the RNG algorithm operates in are the same each time. Whereas with physical RNGs, such as throwing dice or flipping a coin, there are external factors that can never be controlled, affecting the results. These factors include air pressure, wind direction/airflow, smoothness of the table, the throw, and many more, helping ensure a random outcome.
Hence, RNGs in slots can also be described as Pseudo-Random Number Generators (PRNGs).
Natural entropy ensures genuine slots randomness; slots try to recreate this as closely as possible using ‘simulated entropy’ through things like mouse movement, clicks, and keystroke rates, to name a few.
RNGs in slots works through an algorithm constantly producing sequences of numbers at high speeds. This begins by inputting a seed value, and it goes through a complex equation, and the resulting value determines the outcome on the slot.
The most commonly used seed value is the current system time, but down to a very small degree, even milliseconds. The result is determined by the button being pushed, and the sequence produced in that instant determines what shows on the slot machine's reels.
Therefore, each outcome is an independent event; the sequence is unaffected by previous results as the RNG is constantly producing a vast number of sequences while it’s turned on.
Ultimately, it is never completely random as someone has designed the technology and how it works, and this has to be the case to ensure that programmers and developers can find and fix any errors.
However, it is as close to random as we can get to ensure fair play. Casinos are regulated by a third-party company to ensure randomness so that the casino can function as a business, but is not taking advantage of its patrons - they test the RNG technology by running simulations and determine whether it passes a standard of being random and unpredictable enough.