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Vegas Slot Machine Returns and Paybacks

We have to know the basics in returns or paybacks when we play Vegas slot machines.

What they call returns and paybacks are often used in the same sense. But we have to differentiate the two to avoid misunderstandings. Returns are the ratio of money a machine pays out to us against the money we put in it. For instance, if we insert in the slot machine $100 and we win an amount of $92 from the same machine, the return is 92 percent.

It is standard practice in many popular Vegas casinos to hire have their returns computation jobbed out to an accounting firm. A detailed report reflects the various returns as transacted in different games in the casino. If, say, the total amount put into the slot machines for a month is a million dollars, and the amount won by players in the same month totaled $967,000, then we have a 96.7 percent return overall. So the difference of 3.3 percent is the income, which is $33,000.

Returns incurred from slot machines vary each game session. This is true even with one machine. And this is helpful in the nature of slots being a gambling game. If we knew how much returns the machines would yield if they had uniform returns, then there's no sense "gambling" with them. It would be like buying our wins, not taking chances with them.

The payback is the estimated payout a machine is deemed to give after several spins. In theory they expect the machine to yield so much after a specific number of spins. It is the expected performance of the machine, which in actual situations seldom hit accuracy. Say, a slot machine is programmed for a 95 percent payback. Then over time it should have a payout of 95 cents each dollar placed.

But "over time" is an indefinite term. When exactly does "over time" happen, we cannot be sure. So playing slots for a short period of time cannot yield full potential wins. We may enjoy partial wins, but not what the machine is supposed to give out as designed. Hence, this means that often the machine will not payout as the machine is expected to, even if it says the machine has 95 percent payback. This is based on preconditions. But if it's possible to play the machine forever, then we would hit the mark over time.

Returns and paybacks should be understood well in their specific contexts.