REVISITING ONLINE SLOTS
We’ve mostly used this space to dissect, explain and tout the beneﬁts of the slot games you will ﬁnd on the ﬂoor of your favorite casino. Amid all the diﬃculties of the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, the slot games we play have expanded rapidly to another venue—cyberspace. As in, your smartphone or computer.
The world of online gaming had already been expanding before the pandemic hit. Before late 2011, the oﬃcial position of the U.S. government was that online gaming was illegal under the federal Wire Act of 1961. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which targeted oﬀshore internet gaming sites that accepted wagers from U.S. players.
The U.S. Justice Department used UIGEA to issue a 52-page indictment against 11 executives of three companies running U.S.-facing internet gaming sites on April 15, 2011, which became known in the trade as “Black Friday.” The executives were prosecuted and some of the companies changed hands due to the indictments, but before the end of that year, the Justice Department under President Barack Obama revisited the logic that the Wire Act banned internet gaming.
In November 2011, the DOJ issued a new opinion stating that the Wire Act applied only to sports betting. It was the correct opinion—the law had been crafted by the DOJ under Attorney General Robert Kennedy speciﬁcally to target the mobsters who used wire services to transmit wagers, odds and results to bookies around the country. Its focus was solely on that.
The DOJ opinion opened the door to the internet gaming industry, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, leading to the dual expansion of online casinos and sportsbooks we are seeing today.
Last year’s casino shutdowns, of course, accelerated the growth of online gaming, and statistics show that online casinos continued to be a popular alternative for slot play even after the physical casinos reopened.
This means that the most popular question over the years from our readers has understandably been applied to the newer online slots: How does the random number generator decide results in online slot games? The answer: exactly the same as in your favorite casino.
In the casino slot machine, the RNG is a utility software program burned into the game chip of each physical machine. Its function is, as the name says, to generate numbers. In a slot, the program is rapidly generating numbers at random from a set of numbers, which each correspond to a result on the physical reels. The slot programmer gives a number to each symbol or blank on the map of the physical reels, and then duplicates the numbers to create a theoretical payback percentage.
Low-paying symbols or blanks each get a lot of numbers; high-paying symbols, including those making up the top jackpot, get only a few or one number assigned to them. The RNG mixes them all up and generates numbers at a speed of up to 1,000 per second, freezing the combination of numbers generated the nanosecond that a spin is initiated. It then communicates the combination to the slot’s computer, which tells the reels where to stop. It all happens in an instant.
Online casinos generate results in the same manner. The main diﬀerence is that the random number generator program is housed on a central computer server. The player logs into that server to play the games. When a game is selected, the server presents the game to the player.
Back in early 2014, I asked Mike Halvorson Jr., at the time chief development oﬃcer for online gaming content supplier Spin Games, to explain how it works. Considering the rapid rise in online gaming this year, it seems a good time to revisit his explanation:
“When the player hits the ‘play’ button on a game, the device (his PC, mobile phone or tablet) talks to the connected server,” Halvorson explained. “Each game has a separate, distinct usage of the central RNG to power the results that drive the game, but it is all done on the server.”
Once a player is logged into a server and selects a game from the “lobby,” he is playing the game directly on the server, not on his computer. “The RNG is the same for each user, but it is a diﬀerent instance, and it powers the results of each game,” said Halvorson. “Once the device gets back a result of an action from the server, the player will see an action like a reel spin, bingo ball draw, wins, losses, etc.
“Think of the device as a car with no gas. Each result from the server powers that car to move just a little.”
For the purposes of player curiosity, the overall result of this process is the same as that for traditional, physical slot machines: The result is random, and it is based solely on the luck of the draw.
When you play a slot game on an internet casino, you are accessing a game program that is identical to the same game in a landbased casino. The results are random, they are unpredictable, and whether you win or lose is based purely on chance.
The good news is that you can enjoy many of the same games you play in the casinos on the rapidly expanding number of internet casinos available. Recent surveys by casino industry watchers show that the most popular games online are typically the same games that are most popular in casinos: Buﬀalo from Aristocrat, versions of Wheel of Fortune or Cleopatra from IGT, Fu Nan Fu Nu from AGS, Cash Machine from Everi, Monopoly and Zeus from Scientiﬁc Games, and on and on.
So, go ahead and search for your favorite games when online casinos come to your state. And rest assured, the results are random— and fair.
Aristocrat Gaming and Seminole Gaming Launch $1 Million Dragon Link Progressive Jackpot Building on the phenomenal success of the Dragon Link high-denom slot, Aristocrat Gaming and Seminole Gaming have marked a milestone with a new $1 million Dragon Link high-limit progressive jackpot.
The Dragon Link $1 million progressive jackpot is found exclusively at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa, both in Florida. Each property will have linked progressive jackpots starting at $1 million, meaning players will have two places to play for $1 million jackpots.
Less than a year ago, the newest iteration of Dragon Link, which oﬀers high- and mid-denomination bets and a larger linked or standalone jackpot, made its world premiere at Hard Rock Tampa. The game has been so popular that Aristocrat and Seminole Gaming worked together to bring the $1 million jackpot to life, adding a new level of fun.
“With more than 220+ Dragon Link games currently installed across our Florida Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming properties, we are proud to oﬀer this new High Denomination oﬀering,” said David Hoenemeyer, chief operating oﬃcer of Seminole Gaming. “This is a ﬁrst of its kind for this game, and we are proud to oﬀer a life-changing $1 million progressive jackpot payable on the spot.”
“As it has been with all Dragon Link games, player reception to the high-denom and mid-denom Dragon Link games has been overwhelmingly positive. Given that incredible player reception, Seminole Gaming approached us with player feedback, and we worked together to turn on the $1 million jackpot functionality in response,” said Jon Hanlin, senior vice president of commercial strategy and business analytics at Aristocrat Gaming.
The Dragon Link $1 million jackpot game has a $25 minimum bet and a $2,500 max bet—certainly not for the faint hearted.