If you have ever wondered about the technology behind online slot machines, we have come up with the answers.
You will find out how online slots not only simulate the behaviour of physical cabinets, but they do so without technical malfunctions and even add some features on top.
The Basics of Slots
The basic functioning of all slots, both mechanical and online variants, supposes creating a series of random symbols.
Reels and Paylines
When these coincide, you get the proverbial three in a row, and your round has been successful. Consequently, the slot will return a payout that depends on your initial wager or, in the case of jackpots, amounts to a set maximum monetary value.
Thus, the first two essentials for any game of this kind are the (number of) reels and paylines. The former describes how many random symbols occur for each roll. At the same time, the latter tells you which combinations provide what payout.
The simplest slots only have randomly occurring symbols whose alignment produced the same result according to the paylines.
Nowadays, slots have special symbols with different effects. Wilds are popular, but you can also encounter games with signs that act as a universal placeholder, among others.
The features in this are endless and essentially depend on the manufacturer’s or developer’s flair.
Lastly, symbols are the primary interface element, both for software slots and cabinets. Their aesthetic element is thus crucial. Naturally, the rest of the layout also plays a part in the overall aspect.
The Value that Encapsulates All Aspects
One theoretical value considers all game specifics and describes how the results manifest: the payout percentage or RTP.
This theoretical result codifies what fraction of the total wagers the slot will return to the player in the long. You may have a hard time checking it, but there are some simple techniques to find it. The value is an essential description of any slot or casino game at that.
How Your Grandpa’s Slots Worked
The earliest iterations of slot machine cabinets were a convoluted contraption of gears and levers meant to simulate a random event.
One Classic Old-School Example
One of the most frequently used designs was based on three essential parts: notched discs, kickers, and stoppers. You have the three reels placed on a central shaft supporting three notched discs corresponding to the reels.
A secondary shaft supports the kicker, a three-paddle mechanism whose role is self-evident – it kicks the reels into motion. Stoppers are on the same shaft as the kicker. These systems with mechanical teeth grab onto the disc notches, bringing them to a halt.
The result was something akin to how modern slot games function. However, as far as precision was concerned, gamblers were justifiably wary. Naturally, the randomness and adhesion to a stated return to player percentage depended on the fabrication process or the manufacturer’s touch.
Nonetheless, these slots were notoriously inexact in this area, with urban myths about the possibility of affecting outcomes by a physical nudge persisting.
There is an in-between step from fully mechanical systems to computerised slots, occupied by electronic cabinets. These operate like the disc-kicker-stopper triptych but utilise motorised systems.
However, with computerised slot cabinets, we see the entry of one key implementation, the Random Number Generator. RNGs, for short, are algorithmic implementations that create reasonably unpredictable strings of symbols. These try to simulate a good amount of entropic behaviour in the outcome, or, in other words, complete and unpredictable chaos.
Even though RNGs are meant to emulate physical results, the result is much more random than any previous iteration.
The Technology Behind Online Slot Machines
Online slots bring together all technological advancements. They function based on random Number Generator applications.
These algorithms are uploaded on provider servers. Then, for each participant, it provides a random string of data translated within the game’s bounds.
The results are transposed into symbolic displays that are intelligible for the player. Instead of manifesting through the movement of physical reels, the technology behind online slot machines provides the result immediately.
The display then can simulate the act of spinning, but the result is already decided. This aspect is why some online slots allow you to skip the spinning animation.
What the Technology Behind Online Slot Machines Adds
Since they are entirely software-based, virtual slots can have more dynamic layouts, added functionalities, and faster functioning.
Additionally, since they function from a provider server, they are guaranteed to function according to RTP specifications. They can be assessed for malfunctions and immediately corrected accordingly.
What the Online Slot Software (Still) Lacks
Random number generators are a standard for the iGaming industry at large. They are taken to be the main proof for the randomness and fairness of any slot.
However, their results may correlate to pre-existing information, although being evenly distributed. RNGs are mostly tested through statistical assessments. However, these fall in the area of (reasonable but not exact) approximation. This reason is why there are more and more proponents of true randomness with real quantum devices in light of new technologies. There are issues with this model, too, mostly concerning information noise.
However, Quantum RNGs would provide an effective model for online gambling. Will we see the implementation of QRNGs as the technology behind online slot machines? It may happen in the future, although quantum computing remains an unexplored area.
Does Slot Machine Tech Need Improvement?
The issue of result predictability is that standard RNGs are randomised only considering some prerequisites.
Yes, they do not provide “truly” random results, but this outcome may not be required at all.
Slots still need to function like games. Their results must be reasonably unpredictable, but they may follow some very loose patterns. Reasonably is the keyword here. No participant can ever effectively predict the results of standard RNGS online slots.
Quantum computing could hail a new era for cryptography, informatics, and iGaming. However, as it stands, the latter is in the slightest need of the new theory’s implementations.
The current technology behind online slot machines guarantees that the games are fair but within the bounds of their specifications. Here, the return to player rate is once more relevant as a statistical result as well as a guideline.