Wednesday, September 08, 2004
How Slot Machines Operate
In May, following a fine story in the New York Times Magazine, Vice Squad looked a little bit at the design of slot machines. The July, 2004 edition of the on-line Electronic Journal of Gambling Issues (it just changed its name from egambling) provides more details in an article titled "How do slot machines and other electronic gambling machines actually work?" It covers the pseudo random number generating processes, the myths that slots players cling to, and the addictive potential of slot machines, among other things. Here's a scenario that many slots players have reported. They play a given machine for an hour, without success, and then quit. Seconds after they leave, someone else walks up, and on the first play, wins a significant jackpot. It seems as if the original bettor would have won that jackpot if he or she had just played one more time. Turns out that reasoning is incorrect: "the RNG [Random Number Generator] runs continuously and a millisecond difference in the button press will lead to a different outcome."