Are Online Slots Random or Compensated
This is a question that can cause quite a bit of controversy among online gamblers, especially those who spend hours playing online slots without having any luck. As a result, it has led many to suggest that slots are not random at all, but very much fixed.
This is not true, and we will attempt to explain why here as it ties in with the overall question concerning random and compensated slots.
The key to understanding any of this though is to have a solid grasp on what a random slot is compared to a compensated slot, so we will run over that first. It starts with the random number generator.
We will then explore the ins and outs of the randomness of online slots and how these compare to traditional compensated slot machines.
What is a Random Number Generator in Online Slots?
There are many online gamblers who aren’t 100% aware of the technical makeup of slots and how they work behind the screen, and there is more work that goes into them than many think. Arguably the most important element of an online slot is the random number generator, which is also known as the RNG. This creation is actually what allowed the online gaming revolution to happen in the first place.
An RNG is made up of advanced mathematical algorithms that cycle through thousands of potential spin results in seconds thanks to highly sophisticated statistical programming. It was designed to make sure that all outcomes within a slot game occur completely at random, and once it is set up it cannot be tampered with by casinos or players.
Every legitimate online slot game has a balanced RNG which pays out according to the return to player percentage stated in the game’s information; it’s usually between 96% and 98% but there are no rules as to what this number can be. This also keeps the games fair, with each slot tested over millions of spins before they are made available to players, and each spin having the same chance to win big regardless of what else has happened beforehand.
Every slot game has a mathematical model which dictates how it play to some degree (lots of small wins, few big wins, more bonus rounds triggered but the rounds tend to pay out less etc) so it has a huge impact on the player. It is the RNG that is programmed to make sure this model is running fairly and properly.
This makes the random number generator the key component and differentiating factor that sets random and compensated slots apart. It also means that all online slots are, by definition, random.
What are Compensated Slots?
The best way to think about a compensated slot is to assume that they have a memory. The slot will ‘know’ how often it has paid out as well as ‘knowing’ when it will need to pay out next in order to meet its programmed RTP rate.
This means, for example, that if the slot had an RTP percentage of 90% and £100 has been wagered then it should have an average payout of £90. Assuming here that a particular compensated slot has one winning combination for every 10 combinations, it would mean that there would be nine losing combinations out of every 10, so the machine is programmed to pay out at a one in 10 ratio.
This is an oversimplified explanation but it makes the point.
Taking it a step further, if you made three spins which weren’t successful, these losing combinations would effectively be taken away from the total, so you would have one winning combination that had not been landed while there would be six losing combinations still to come.
This means that the more losing spins you have in a row, the higher the chance that your next spin will be a winner, because the machine will want to pay out to get the RTP back up to where it needs to be. Therefore, it is not random.
These compensated slot machines were typically found in pubs and seaside arcades, and it is why you used to see eagle eyed players observing less savvy players and taking note of any machine that was ‘due’ a big win. They would step in when the clueless player got bored or ran out of money and take the win that was due. The nature of how these slots work, means that they are not available online though, and technology has come a long way so compensated slots are pretty rare anywhere these days.
Slot Classification and Rules
All slots in the UK market have a classification attached to them allocated by the UK Gambling Commission, and there are certain rules which apply to each one.
They are ranked as A, B1, B2, B3, B3A, B4, C, D and SWP, with each having a different legal letter attached to them, while different ones apply to different types of games.
Compensated slots generally have either a B3 or B4 ranking and the significance of this is that there is a maximum stake limit attached to them, which is capped at £2. Furthermore, there is also a limit to how much you can win on compensated B3 and B4 slots, with the maximum winnings having a £500 cap. These are only legal for use in licensed premises and businesses, which include pubs, private members clubs, and bookmakers, and are commonly known as ‘fruit machines’.
Next you have the B1 machines which are those that you would typically find in casinos, the sort you imagine when you think of Las Vegas slots. For these, there is a maximum payout of £10,000, however this can increase to £20,000 for progressive or linked jackpot slots. They also have a maximum stake with a £5 limit. In accordance with the 2005 Large Casino Act, each location in the UK is allowed a maximum of 150 machines in one location, while the 2005 Small Casino Act stipulates a limit of 80 machines.
The B2 classifications relate to the multi-game machines that you would usually find in sports or race betting venues. These reeled slot games will usually have a smaller total jackpot than a B1 slot machine which is usually £500 for each one, as well as carrying a £2 maximum stake. These particular slot machines are also known as Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).
Class D slots meanwhile, are the ones which you may usually find in an amusement arcade, where the prize often involves some kind of children’s toy. These often have set minimum stakes from either 1p to 10p while players can also win bundles of coins that can vary in amount but don’t usually exceed £20.
Pros and Cons of Random and Compensated Slots
We will go into detail on this below, but if you would prefer a table for quick reference then here it is:
|Game variety and choice||Game faults|
|Huge potential prizes||Big wins less frequent|
|Instant access via any device||Withdrawal delays|
|More immersive||Learning curve|
|Top prize pays out more often||Max win is lower|
|Winnings in cash instantly||RTP much lower|
|No sign up or personal details needed||Fewer machines to choose from|
|Possible to learn when a win is ‘due’||Only one player can play at a time|
Advantages of Online Random Slots
There is a reason why online slots attract millions of players, the sheer amount of them that there are to choose from being a huge factor. However, the amount of prize money compared to most compensated slots is titanic.
Furthermore, online slots can be played from anywhere with a strong WiFi connection, and on handheld devices which most people own these days, so players can enjoy the games at their own convenience and with instant access.
In addition to this, players find they get immersed by the graphics, animations and audio quality of online slots which have been expertly created by software providers, while compensated slots are more restricted in this area.
Disadvantages of Online Random Slots
While there are advantages, there are also what people might deem to be drawbacks to online slots. Arguably, the main drawback might be the amount of time players have to wait for a payout, though often players will stay because they do not want to miss out.
If a player does win enough to be worth withdrawing, there is sometimes the drawback of having to wait a few days for your winnings to be processed, while if it is a particularly large amount, most online casinos will look into it to make sure that the win is valid and may also do more KCY (Know Your Customer) checks which can take even more time.
In addition, they could also investigate the gambling patterns of the player and payment methods that have been used to make sure no illegal activity has been committed such as fraud. With a compensated slot the winnings drop into the tray right in front of you.
Online slots can often take longer to learn how to play too, especially because there are so many different types, courtesy of numerous software providers. For those who are new to the industry, it could be confusing because you might find that the objectives of each slot are different.
Advantages of Compensated Slots
Although online slots are typically more lucrative, it could be argued that the frequency of a substantial payout on compensated slots is higher, due to the fact that they can only hold a certain amount before they need to drop (in accordance with the RTP).
Also, payouts for compensated slots are instant so players can use their winnings straight away, which in venues like pubs is very handy. That said, a physical jackpot slot in a Las Vegas casino for example, is more likely to see a cheque presented to the winner, especially if the amount is over 5 figures.
With compensated slots, you can also start playing instantly, while online slots require you to sign up to a particular online casino and go through the registration process, which can take a while.
Another advantage of a compensated slot is that if you have the patience, you can watch someone else playing these first to give you an idea of how it is performing and whether there might potentially be an impending payout. This is especially effective if that person does not know what they are doing, gets frustrated and walks away at just the right time.
Disadvantages of Compensated Slots
Compensated slots have a limit as to how much that they can pay out based on how they are designed and what they can hold, as well as the RTP rate. While the winnings may still be quite attractive to some, compared to what you can win when playing online slots, a serious player may not see it as worth their time.
Also, there aren’t typically that many options available in the same place unless you are in a big arcade. Pubs tend to have just a handful of machines at most. Compared to the vast repertoire that is available at most online casinos, this is a tiny amount of variety.
Furthermore, the RTP percentage for compensated slots is much lower than for random slots – as low as 70% which is a stark contrast to online slots which tend to sit in the mid to high 90s. However, one of the main reasons for this is that compensated slots have to pay out when they reach a certain point, while you could effectively be playing an online slot for the whole day before getting a payout worth mentioning.
What is crucial to remember is that online slots are completely random, because they use advanced software to make sure that they remain fair, while compensated slots know when they are reaching their limit and need to pay out.
Furthermore, if you are wanting to play on a compensated slot you should decide whether it is worth your time in terms of the jackpot size. You might find that those which pay out £10,000 for example are worth considerably more investment than those which only pay out £500, so this factor could well decide where you play.
It is highly likely that over the next few years we will see even fewer compensated slots, especially in places such as pubs, because they can take up too much room and are regularly replaced with digital multi game machines. For online slots though it is just the beginning, and as technology evolves further these will only get more creative.