The Science Behind Slots


Slot machines are based on a mathematical algorithm that generates random numbers. These numbers are then randomly chosen to determine whether a spin will win or lose. This process is called random number generation, or RNG. Random number generators are special algorithms that are used when the outcome of a game needs to be as random as possible. As a result, the random number generators used in slot machines have no memory and each spin is independent of the one before it.

Slot machines became popular during the 1920s in resort towns. They remained popular throughout the Great Depression. But they were not without controversy. The law and organized crime opposed slot machines. San Francisco banned them in 1909; at the time, there were approximately 3,300 machines in the city. When the ban took effect, Fey’s competitors began building slot machines without coin slots. These machines were operated across a saloon counter, and players could buy and play without being seated at a machine.

Another level of science is psychology, which has been incorporated into slots. Numerous studies have been performed to understand how people respond to different kinds of slot machines. One such study, by Skinner, focused on human behavior. Researchers used pigeons to test the effects of different rewards. Although they did not know if they would win or lose, the pigeons hit the lever frequently hoping to win.