Surveys have shown that with 470 nickel slots under surveillance a profit of at least a million and a half dollars a year is to be expected by the casino, and obviously with 25c and $1 machines this profit margin is much increased. In addition let's not forget that slots are unique in the casino world because they are set to pay out at a specific un-effectible rate, their paybacks rely not on lucky rolls but solely in adherence to what their programmers have told them to release. If that is the case, how do you make money?
The payout is programmed in an incredibly logical manner that is no secret: on a 3 reel slot with 20 symbols on each reel, the possible number of combinations can be calculated simply by 20x20x20 which comes to a total of 8,000 possible outcomes. Should a casino allow 8,000 coins to be paid out no profit would be made as the sum of the payout equals the sum made by the machine as each spin requires one coin; should no coins be paid out there would never be a win. Therefore, obviously a full payout will never be seen, as will a machine that never pays out. It is the casino operator's job to decide exactly how much they wish to pay out. The advantages of a loose machine, one that has a relatively low percentage payout is the attraction to the machine, but a tight machine, one that pays out less provides more profits. Finding the balance is the key to a successful slots bank.
A loose machine may be one that pays out 7,500 coins in the above situation. This would be a 1/16 or 6.25% profit for the casino; resulting in a 93.75% likely payout to the player. Depending on where you are this may be considered as very good, or very bad. Today, the average payout of slots in Las Vegas is 95% making this hypothetical payout a bad deal. On the other hand, in Atlantic City the average slot machine pays out between 90 and 92% making 93.75% a veritable goldmine.
Outside of the major gaming centers the odds change considerably. In a cross-nation analysis it seems that most machines hold back a lot more than in the above scenario, in fact up to 20% of all stakes played. With this situation it is easy to see how they make their money. Rather than getting something back 90something% of the time, you will only actually see your money again 80% of the time; that's an 80 cent dollar.
So what to do with this information? Firstly remember that you are their business; without players they have no games. Stick with the big centers or online slots rooms and you will benefit from the best paybacks in the business. Online slots particularly offer many advantages over land based casinos but for slots math the most important difference is the lack of overheads and machine upkeep meaning less need to hold coins back causing generally a higher payback percentage.