Free Spins, Random Number Generators and the House Edge
The mechanics of online slot machines aren’t much different from how they were way back in the old days. A player places his bet, spins the reels a few times and then waits for the reels to end before seeing whether or not he has won. In some cases, a winning line will form if the reels are stopped at such a distance from the center of the slot machine that a complete line of exactly the same symbols is visible. A win here means that the particular online slot machine was, indeed, “hot” when the players made their bets and was thus paying out a jackpot.
There are still some online slot casinos that operate strictly cash-only when it comes to playing and winning real money. These casinos have chosen to limit their operations to people who play through an online slot machine that uses real money as its only form of payment. On the other hand, there are also casinos that welcome both players who play with real money and those who play with virtual or prepaid money through the use of credit cards or online payment gateways such as PayPal.
Real money games are known by the term “RNG”. This stands for “Real Money”. This essentially means that while the casino is preparing the reels and presenting new combinations to the players, it is also relying on the probability that these new combinations will be good bets. The casino can’t predict with certainty which combinations will be the winners, but it can make a reasonable assumption based on past results. If, for instance, it knows that most of the time a combination will draw a straight line of three numbers, it can create a random number generator that will generate a number that is almost sure to draw a straight line.
This is basically how online casinos make money. They offer players bonuses (either in the form of cash or gifts) that encourage them to play more. Most casinos allow players to use their bonuses whenever they want. For instance, a player who receives an additional $200 upon signing up may use this money to buy a second machine, so that he can have two machines at his house. This allows the online casinos to generate an additional income from these players.
To reduce the house edge (or “loophole”) that the online slot machines have, there are a couple of things the casinos can do. One is to introduce randomness into the game, by randomizing all the variables and outcomes. For instance, rather than selecting a payout amount that strictly follows a normal distribution, the casino randomly decides on a number between one and five. However, keep in mind that this will completely random and may not happen consistently.
A welcome bonus is a free spin that a casino gives to a new player, to encourage them to stick around and play more. While this seems like a good idea, there is a problem. Players who have already spent a certain amount of money on spins will be willing to pay double the amount for a single spin with a casino that offers a welcome bonus. In other words, because they have already had their fill of free spins, they will play the casino twice for the same money. Online slots machines like these can potentially lose a player a lot of money very quickly, due to the nature of progressive and bonus-based randomness.