We’ve all been there at some point during an online slots session. The reels keep on spinning and spinning, with not a single win in sight. Even when wins do land, they are so insignificant that they come nowhere near to restoring our balance to what it was at the start of the session.
We often ask ourselves, “Are online slots rigged?”. The simple answer to this question no – not least because the software developers behind slot games are heavily regulated.
Moreover, software providers must get their games certified by Testing Houses before the title can launch into the online casino space. As the Testing House itself must also be in possession of a gaming license, this ensures beyond doubt that online slots are not in any way, shape, or form – rigged.
So with that being said, why does it seem like we are at times being cheated by online slot games, with hours and hours of gameplay without landing a bonus entry or large win? Well, if you’re keen to find out why, we would suggest reading on. Within it, we’ll explain how the long-term RTP and win frequency rate determines how much you win or lose in the short run.
Let’s start with the all-important ‘RTP’.
The slot RTP: What is it and why is it important?
If you’re still new to the online slot space, then we think it is absolutely crucial that you gain a firm understanding of what the RTP is, and why it will dictate how much you win or lose on your chosen slot game. In its most basic form, the Return to Player – or simply RTP, is the long-term statistical advantage that the slot game has over you. In this sense, it operates exactly like the house-edge that you will find in other casino games, such as blackjack, roulette, and video poker. However – in the case of online slot games, the house-edge operates in reverse.
By this, we mean that the higher the RTP percentage, the lower the house-edge – and vice-versa. For example, let’s say that you are playing an online slot game that comes with an RTP of 95%. In order to assess the long-term house-edge, we need to subtract the RTP from 100. In this example, the house-edge would be 5%. At the time of writing, online slot games typically come with an average RTP of between 94% and 96% – albeit, with the space becoming more and more competitive in recent years, these averages appear to be increasing in size – which is great.
The RTP and short-term losing streaks:
So now that you know how the RTP works, you might be somewhat confused as to why you are still encountering a losing streak on your chosen slot game. In fact, you’re probably still asking yourself “Are online slots rigged?”. Well, we need to unravel how the long-term RTP percentage works in more detail for you to understand that online slots are not, and cannot, be rigged.
First and foremost, the RTP percentage rate is based over the course of time. For example, if you play a slot game that comes with an RTP of 96%, this doesn’t mean that you will win £96 for every £100 staked, or £960 for every £1,000 staked. On the contrary, the RTP of 96% is based over billions and billions of individual spins.
As such, a more reliable way to look at the theoretical payout is to assume that for every £1 billion that goes into the machine, £960 million will be paid out, with £40 million being retained by the casino site in question. As a result, players can experience periods of wins and losses at any given time.
For example, you have just as much chance of winning a progressive jackpot prize of £1 million+ with a single spin of 30p, as you do playing the same game for days on end. You see, the long-term RTP percentage ensures that the machine remains random at all times. As long as it achieves its percentage rate over billions and billions of spins, it will distribute its wins sporadically.
In layman terms, this means that if you get your timing right, you will walk away a winner. On the contrary, if you get your timing wrong, then you will likely experience long periods where you win nothing. As you have probably guessed, there is no way of knowing when a machine is going to pay out, so in this sense – it’s all a game of chance.
Are slots rigged? Not if the software developer is regulated
If you’re a seasoned online slots player, then you will no doubt have come across software providers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, Quickfire, and Playtech. For those unaware, the aforementioned software developers are behind thousands of well-known slot titles, which covers everything from 3D slots, classic slots, movie and TV themed slots, and progressive jackpot slots.
On top of being at the top of their game, the above software providers have something else in common – they are all regulated by leading regulatory bodies. Think along the lines of the Gambling Commission in the UK, and the Malta Gaming Authority. One of the key licensing conditions set out by gaming bodies is that software developers must ensure that their games are 100% true and fair. This also covers the long-term RTP, meaning that developers need to ensure that the stated percentage rate is accurate beyond doubt.
In order to enforce these stringent regulatory requirements, software providers will have their gaming data audited by the gaming bodies they are licensed by. This acts as a significant safeguard against your concerns of slots being rigged. It is also important to note that the role of Testing Houses should not be understated.
As we noted above, Testing Houses are tasked with certifying slot games before they reach the online casino market. This includes a thorough and in-depth analysis of the game’s underlying software algorithm. If there are any doubts whatsoever about the integrity of the slot game in question, it won’t be approved by the Testing House and thus – won’t reach the online casino space.
What should I do if I think an online slot game is rigged?
If you have read our article up to this point, then you should now have a firm grasp of the many protections and safeguards put in place to ensure that online slots are not rigged. However, if you truly believe that you are playing a slot machine that is in fact rigged, then there are a number of options at your disposal.
First and foremost, you should initially take your concern up with the respective slot site. Rather than speaking with an unqualified agent via live chat, we would suggest writing a formal email to the casino. Within it, you should state the slot title that you believe is rigged, as well as a clear explanation as to why you think it is rigged.
Once the casino receives your email, they will then give you an explanation as to whether or not your concerns are valid. If you do not like the response that you get, you should then ask the casino to take this up with the specific software provider behind the game. Alternatively, you can attempt to speak with the software developer directly.
If you are still not getting the response that you require, then you will need to take your complaint up directly with the regulatory body that licenses the software developer. Remember, your complaint is against the software provider, not the casino, as operators have no control over the games that they host. Instead, they merely license them from the developer.
As most online slots sites are now regulated on multiple fronts, you need to go with the gaming body that has jurisdiction over your country of residence. For example, if you’re based in the UK this will be the Gambling Commission. If you’re based in Mainland Europe, then this is likely to be either the Malta Gaming Authority of the Gibraltar Gambling Commission.
Tips to ensure you are not playing a rigged slot machine
In order to conclude our guide on ‘Are online slots rigged?”, we have listed a few handy tips to ensure your gambling endeavours remain safe and secure (and winning) at all times.
Tip 1: Stick with established software providers
Before spinning the reels on your chosen slot game, be sure to check the name of the software developer behind the title. Although there are now hundreds of independent software developers active in the online slots space, we would suggest sticking with established industry leaders. Think along the lines of Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech.
Tip 2: Check whether or not the online casino is regulated
Although it is a legal requirement for online casinos to operate in a regulated environment and thus – be in full receipt of a valid gaming license, this isn’t always the case. As such, check the operator’s license number with the respective gaming body. This way, you can be 100% sure that the online slots site is legitimate.
Tip 3: Check that the slot game is certified
As a final check, you should assess whether or not the online slot title has been certified by a regulated Testing House. You might need to do some digging around to find this data, although in most cases you will find it hidden within the paytable. If the game is fully certified by a regulated Testing House, you can then be 100% sure that the slot is not rigged.