Do Vegas Casinos Change a Slot Machine’s Payback Percentage if You’re Using Free Play?

Are casinos changing the odds on you? I do some research to find out.

It’s a myth that persists among the uninitiated and a contingent who think casinos will use every lever possible to take money from players. But the myth is further debunked by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB), “A slot machine cannot change its payback based on the type of wagering credits or how they are acquired (cash, voucher, or free play).” In essence, Vegas casinos can’t lower the paytable on slot machines based on if the player is using free play.

The NGCB further clarified that there are restrictions on the order in which a slot must use credits as well. First, a machine must use any available and activated non-cashable credits. These are defined as “the monetary units displayed on a credit meter that have no cash redemption value”. Next are cashable credits, which are credits that are redeemable for cash that has been given to the player by the casino. And finally all other types of credits.

As is the case with gambling, some people have poor luck with their free play. Some people have tremendous luck. Then there are all those others between. If things aren’t going well with your free play dollars, even if it’s consistently poor, know you’re just having a run of bad luck. On the bright side, at least your bad luck is coming out of the marketing budget of the casino and not your wallet.

Slot myths are pervasive. These randomized and fun machines have a way of turning smart, analytical minds to mush. Even the most mathematically inclined can’t help but fall victim to gambling fallacies at times.

I’ve seen slot experts answer the title question with advice like “try it out and if after a few times you realize you’re not winning, they probably are changing the paytables on you”. I’m paraphrasing here, but it’s odd and borderline irresponsible advice.

If things aren’t going your way, it’s not because the casino is pulling the wool over your eyes. Slots are subject to technical standards. Yes, gambling conditions can and do change over time, and usually not to the player’s benefit. But in the short-term, it’s just a bad run.

If there are other myths you want me to dig into, please share them in the comments below. Best of luck out there.

Adam Bauer

Writer, gambler, famous travel influencer. Proud sponsor of the American Society for the Prevention of Bloggers.

About the Author

Adam Bauer

Writer, gambler, famous travel influencer. Proud sponsor of the American Society for the Prevention of Bloggers.

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