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  • What is a random number generator (RNG)?
  • How does an RNG work in online slots?
  • Return to player percentage (RTP)
  • Slot machine myths debunked
  • Can you cheat the RNG?

What is a random number generator (RNG)?

A random number generator is essentially a piece of software designed to make casino games fairer. The computer programme generates numbers at random, or so it seems. In fact, in order to programme an RNG, it’s impossible for it to be completely random. Casinos use pseudo random number generators, which don’t rely on external input and instead generate an almost random number based on an algorithm and a seed number.

A seed number is essentially a starting number which then goes through a mathematical process automatically using a complex algorithm. Due to the nature of these algorithms, it is, therefore, possible to hack an RNG, however, this is quite difficult to achieve. When the new number is produced from the original seed number this process is repeated again and again generating new seed numbers every millisecond.

You can find an RNG in many places, including on electronic devices. RNGs are used in a number of fields including statistical sampling, cryptography, computer simulation, completely randomised design, and of course, in the casino industry.

How does an RNG work in online slots?

An RNG is a microprocessor which generates numbers within a range, this can, of course, be enormous, and up to several billion. For online slots, RNGs typically produce numbers from a range of up to four billion per spin, for example. An RNG will generate a long sequence of random numbers per second which corresponds to the stops on the slot reels. Sounds complicated, but this is how an RNG makes online slots as fair as possible.

Let’s go over the process in detail. First of all, you hit the spin button and at this exact moment, the RNG generates a number. The interesting thing is that the RNG is continually producing long sequences of numbers, and the one you get happens to have been generated at the same instant. It is in fact, already decided. The moment you click the button corresponds with the number being generated that millisecond.

Online slot machines give the impression that you’re in a real-life casino, waiting for the reels to stop spinning when actually, the RNG already has a random number ready for you. When you’re playing slots, the numbers are therefore random in the sense that they do not depend on the previous spin. The RNG results are based on a complex algorithm that is constantly generating sequences from different seed numbers. The good thing here is that you’re given a pretty much equal chance to win, on every spin, as everyone else, seen as the RNG doesn’t record your gameplay.

Return to player percentage (RTP)

Experienced players will have heard the concept of “return to player percentage” or RTP. The percentage represents the probability of players winning their bets back over time. If a slot has an RTP of 99.6% then players can expect to receive this percentage back of their overall bettings, leaving 3.4% as house edge for the casino. This figure is per spin, of course.

The RNG has an effect on the RTP. Any slot machines with the same number of stops should have the same RTP if they are controlled by an RNG. However, slot machines vary and so does their RTP, meaning that you can’t always calculate the probability of winning your money back, even if the machine uses an RNG. This makes it fairer as winning is based on luck.

RTP can of course be rigged by the casino if they are not officially tested. This is the only time your chances of winning can be affected. There are certain steps taken to ensure that random number generators are fair. These mainly involve tests that are carried out by official third-parties to ensure the RNG is fair and unaffected by outside influence. Some examples of the testing evaluation carried out include:

  • RNG evaluations
  • Game and mathematics evaluations
  • Live dealer, sportsbook, or betting exchange evaluation
  • Lottery and pari-mutuel evaluations
  • Penetration testing and full security audits
  • Poker system audits
  • Ongoing RNG or game payout verification and reporting

If the online casino passes these evaluations, then the games are considered “fair”. They also need to meet a minimum RTP in order to pass. All reputable casinos are tested, both brick and mortar, and online. Look for a certification or badge if you’re not sure, and check it’s been approved by official bodies. These tests tend to be carried out by the Gambling Commission.

Slot machine myths debunked

An RNG can actually dispel many of the myths originally associated with slot machine probability. The main trap that many players fall into is the idea that their next result is somehow linked to their previous spin. When an RNG is applied, it isn’t at all. The result is based on a very complex algorithm that is fed random seed numbers which have nothing to do with the previous spin on the slot machine.

With an RNG, each spin is independent of the other meaning the fairest possible outcome each time. It’s a myth that a winning combination will eventually appear after a certain number of spins, or that it’s more likely that you’ll win using bonus points from the casino. The outcome is determined solely by the RNG. The RNG has no idea whether you’re using your own money, how much you’re betting, or how many times you’ve spun the reel. It is continually generating number sequences until you hit that spin button.

One of the common myths in a casino is that if a player feeds a machine for long enough, it will eventually pay out. This is why many people wait to use a machine another player has been on for a while, hoping that it’s almost reached its feed limit before the big payout. An RNG in place however means that no player is more likely to win than another, no matter what your tactics are in this case. There’s no time or feed limitations and the outcome only depends on the random number generated.

The only time you are likely to win more often if you’re playing a low variance game. There are two types of slot machines, low variance, and high variance. By playing low variance machines you are more likely to win more frequently, but smaller prizes. Higher variance slot machines are riskier but the prizes are generally bigger. This means if you invest more time you could have the chance to win big. There is no guarantee of this though. The RNG always controls the results at the end of the day.

Can you cheat the RNG?

As long as there have been casinos there have been people trying to cheat the system. These are people from both sides, the house, and the players. An RNG in place makes it nearly impossible to cheat on slot machines. Licensed casinos are frequently regulated to ensure that their games are not rigged. This means vigorous testing of the RNGs as previously mentioned.

Only very experienced hackers have been able to achieve the rigging of an RNG. This is incredibly difficult to do, however, all algorithms can inevitably be hacked by a sophisticated enough computer programme. If you’re not a genius cybercriminal, then the whole concept is impossible to imagine. With cybersecurity measures in place, it’s also easier nowadays to predict and prevent hacking.

It’s near impossible to beat the RNG. Different players have tried various tactics, but it really depends on your gambling attitude. Some players prefer to spend a short time on low variance slot machines and to quit after the first small win. Others prefer to invest more time in money on high variance machines, in the hope of winning a larger prize eventually. It’s advisable to stick to low variance slot machines if you don’t want to bet a lot of money. This way you’ll only be likely to be in it for the short-term. The RNG makes both these types of games fair at all times, however, so it’s up to you.

The reason slot machines are fun is that you simply can’t predict the outcome, online or otherwise. The RNG is the only thing that can determine the result of your next spin. Whether you feel like you’re on roll or having a streak, it doesn’t matter. The RNG could still throw you a random curveball. This is the risk you have to take. It all depends on your luck in the moment.

It’s up to you how you prefer to play, but the results an RNG produces are random, and if you win it’s based on luck alone. This makes the game all that more interesting.

If you would like to know more information about slot machines or casino games that rely on an RNG, get in touch today.

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