x

Jan

24

2011

Trusting Video Slot Machines

Way back in the late 1980s, before casinos came to Mississippi (or anywhere else in the United States outside Nevada and New Jersey), I was walking through the Flamingo in Las Vegas on a busy Friday night. Rows and rows of slot machines were busy, but as I cruised the aisles, I spotted one empty spot. I made my way past five or six machines, and found a single idle game amidst a slot-playing frenzy.

Why was this single machine idle? It was an early video slot, surrounded by games with mechanical reels. It didn’t have any of the bonus events, sound effects or bells and whistles of modern video slots. It was a three-reel game with fruit symbols that mimicked play on the mechanical games.

I started to plunk my quarters into the slot, and a couple of women on my left told me that they just didn’t like that game, that they felt it could be manipulated.

Games and players have changed, and today video slots are the casino games that are played most. Still, I sometimes get e-mails from players who just don’t trust the video games. “They’re too much like computers,” one player told me. “You can program a computer to do anything.”

He didn’t seem to have the same aversion about games with mechanical reels, yet all modern slot machines are computerized, whether they have video screens or spinning reels. Whether you’re looking at reels or a video screen. The display you see is just a representation of a game that’s being played inside, in the game’s random number generator program.

There’s no manipulating of results while you’re playing. All games have to meet legal standards for randomness, and video or not, the game remains as random as humans can program a computer to be.

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