Can Casinos tighten Slot machines?

| Oct 16, 2019

You may be wondering if this actually means what you think it means and if so how the process actually occurs.

Tightening slot machines is actually considered ‘the norm’ in gambling resorts like Las Vegas which attracts in excess of 40 million visitors every year.

However, this is not done as routinely as one might think; usually only after a careful analysis of the mathematics which include how often a particular slot is being played and then determining the reasoning behind this such as payout percentage.

In popular gambling destinations, many slot machines in casinos are hooked up to an internal server which can be operated manually from the back office, usually by a senior stakeholder.

Can Casinos tighten Slot machines?

Justin Beltram, executive director of slots at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas can do this with just a small number of clicks of his mouse, reprogramming the over 1,500 slot machines that he has under his purview, adjusting the denominations that are required to play, payback percentages and even change the theme of games.

Previously, tightening a slot machine involved an arduous and time consuming process of opening it up, replacing the computer chip inside and then switching the glass display which markets the theme of the game, with the procedure usually costing thousands of dollars, not just in price, but also in the loss of potential profit while being out of action.

Now, Beltram could not find his task any easier: “Now, I just come to my office, and select the program,” he said, speaking to the New York Times.

“With the technology, it takes 20 seconds.”

Original slot machines, were of course, highly mechanised. Now, with the massive shift in technological development, they are now virtually, completely computerised, allowing customers to play multiple reels simultaneously, luring them in attractive bonuses.

 

What it means to tighten a slot machine

The process of tightening a slot machine, is to reduce the frequency of payouts, essentially turning it into a high volatility slot, which means that it will payout less often, though when it does, this is likely to be a large amount.

For this to happen, even though done via a computer server, it can take a number of hours for the slot machine to update and firstly has to be shut down, cordoned off and customers made aware via the screen that changes are being made.

Due to the length of time that it takes for casinos to alter slot machines, the process is normally undertaken at the quietest periods of time, usually between 3am and 8am, which is usually when the majority of tourists have finally gone to sleep.

While a casino can tighten a slot machine, they can also loosen them which is to ensure the slot pays out more often, though in smaller increments. The decision to make either of those changes though, isn’t taken lightly and forms part of the casino’s annual and quarterly business and revenue plan. Of course, there are no guarantees and sometimes the decision to make any change can backfire considerably in the short term!

Charles Baxendale (BSc, MSc Mathematics and Computer Science)

Charles Baxendale

(BSc, MSc Mathematics and Computer Science)

A keen researcher in the development of methods and theories for computer sciences. A lover of algorithms and mathematical computation. Consultant to online slots software companies and a player in my spare time.