In a vast showroom at the Palais des Congres in Montreal, well-dressed men and women push buttons and pull levers while watching cherries and sevens spin on liquid crystal displays. It’s the annual convention of the Canadian Gaming Summit, and the people here are serious about gambling.
The number of symbols on a slot machine affects how often the game pays and how much it can pay. Traditionally, symbols were weighted by their appearance on the physical reels, but when manufacturers incorporated electronics into their machines in the 1980s, they began to assign different weighting to each symbol. This change made it possible to make a profit on the machines even with very few winning combinations.
A slot’s return-to-player (RTP) percentage is built into its programming and reflects what a player can expect to win on average over thousands of spins. This does not necessarily mean that a player will win at this rate, but it can help him or her understand the probabilities involved in each spin.
Online slots come in many variations, but they all work essentially the same way. Random number generator software generates a string of numbers for each spin and determines which symbols land and how much a player wins or loses. This data is then converted into a paytable that shows the odds of hitting each combination, including the jackpots. Each game is calibrated in advance to hit the RTP percentage that is published, and it is tested over millions of spins to ensure that it meets those specifications.