Addiction A-Z

Electronic gambling machines

Electronic gambling machines (EGMs), better known to the public as slot machines, are considered one of the most addictive forms of casino gambling. Of all the forms of casino gambling, slot machines are where it’s at for the casinos, accounting for some 70% of the casino’s total take. In fact, slots overtook table games such as craps and blackjack as the most popular casino games in the 1980s.

Despite the huge numbers of problem and/or addicted gamblers in the U.S., most Americans are able to be responsible about gambling. Still, it may be beneficial to keep in mind some tips about a healthy approach to slot machines.

  • Recognize the slim chance of winning – All the experts say that over time, you’ll lose playing the slots. Slots have the worst payback percentage of all casino games. And, you’ll lose more than you win on a consistent basis. You simply can’t beat the computerized virtual wheels – even with so-called guaranteed 97% payback percentages. Those stats just encourage you to bet more and longer in a vain attempt to win. Since you’re likely to lose, you have to modify your gambling to avoid losing more than you can afford.
  • Know the odds – If the odds of winning a particular jackpot are 1 in 250,000, they’ll always be 1 in 250,000 – no matter if the last win was 5 minutes ago or 3 months prior. According to, the odds are about 262,144 to 1 on a machine with a $10,000 jackpot. Megabucks machines with multi-million dollar jackpots have odds closer to 1 in 50 million. The odds are the same on every spin. Keep this in mind when you decide whether or not to play the slots.
  • Limit your play – Give yourself a specific time limit during which to play. This could be an hour or less. Limiting time at the machines could also be a matter of budget. Only carry cash that you can afford to lose – and leave all your credit and ATM machine cards at home. When you run out of your gambling money, quit and leave. That’s the only way you won’t be tempted to “just take out a bit more” and keep on playing. Again, experts recommend that you set your limits (time and money) before you sit down to play. Don’t let yourself be tempted to overstepping your limits. Remember that the longer you play, the more likely it is that you’ll lose. Over time, the casino always wins.
  • Avoid progressive slots – Don’t be fooled into thinking that when you win (and, it’s really only if you win, not when), you’ll win big by betting the maximum amount on progressive slots. If you’re playing purely for entertainment value, you can play longer when you skip the progressives. Don’t pump in more money to make the maximum bet per play. This just gets you into the hole faster. Progressives, according to experts, typically pay back 2-7% less than standard slots.
  • If you feel yourself getting into trouble, get help – If you find yourself betting more than you can afford, gambling longer than you intended, neglecting responsibilities at home or work or feeling like you have to gamble – it’s time to get some professional help. Start by talking to your family doctor, or visit Gamblers Anonymous or the National Council on Problem Gambling for useful advice, literature, resources and links.
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