Why You Need to Know About Payouts
Slot machine payout is the percentage of bets that the slot machine has returned to players in practice; it's also known as "slot's return percentage." So if a casino's slot machine payouts were 96% last month, players received $96 back for every $100 they bet on the machines on average.
But a single month's (or even several months') payout percentages can be influenced by a single jackpot win. In fact, many online slot information websites claim that the casino that they advertise (and receive money from) have a high payout of 98.6%, for example, which is likely taken from a single month during which someone won a huge progressive jackpot.
On average, the machine might payout many points less than that.
A slot machine's payback percentage should be one of the main considerations (if not the main consideration) when deciding where to play and which machines to spend money on. Payback means theoretical return, what the machines have been set to pay back in the long run. (Payback is different from payout which means how much has actually been returned.)
The problem is, neither online nor live casinos share payback information for individual machines, so the only kind of information you're going to get is monthly payouts of all the slot machines combined - and even that percentage is misleading since it always includes video poker and video keno payouts also.
With that said, comparing online slot payouts is the only useful way to determine which online casino has the loosest slots and therefore makes financially the most sense for players. It makes sense to look for high payout slots, even with the little and blurry information that we have available.
So here we go.
Slot Payout Cycles and Schedules
Most slot machine players have heard about slot payout cycles and schedules. According to these theories, slot machines return more or less money based on a cycle or a schedule.
In reality, all theories claiming that slot machine payouts change (or are changed by the casino) based on time of the day or how much players have won lately are wild assumptions - there's no proof that this is the case, and especially live casinos have to report the change and physically change the EPROM chip inside the machine (some have already moved on to more advanced technologies) which both take time.
Casinos are aware of their customers' beliefs, which is why they often ask players who've just won a jackpot (or otherwise a lot of money) to play one more spin so that the next player wouldn't see a jackpot has just been won.
How Payouts Are Monitored
Some independent testing agencies publish payout statistics for their online casino clients. A testing agency called eCogra is one that publishes slot payout percentages for all of their clients at www.ecogra.com.
On a side note, live casinos have to report changes that they make to their slot machine payback (to my understanding, this is simply consists of doing some paperwork). Live casinos also have minimum payout percentages based on the jurisdiction, some of which you can find at ACG.