PURPOSE:   Some estimates place the number of different slot machine games on the order of 20 to 30-thousand - delivering different play styles, payouts, themes, and the favorite of all slot players - the bonus game - a winning stage that usually will provide the largest wins for players. Yet, the result is usually the same, the house wins. In surveying the landscape, Scientific Ameriken identified a slot machine called "Bill & Coin" that not only allows the player to pay a small fee to go automatically to the bonus game - but that has 3 different bonus games to choose from. The question then becomes - does the choice even matter? Here Scientific AmeriKen will crunch the numbers to answer that very question!

HYPOTHESIS:  Some believe whether one wins or loses on a slot machine is already decided the moment the play button is pushed - the rest is just bells and whistles. Subscribing to this belief, the hypothesis of this experiment is that there will be no statistical difference between the three bonus games.

MATERIAL AND METHODS:  Using an online website, Scientific AmeriKen banked a good number of "gold coins" abbreviated GC, which are fictional coins used by the site. A total of 102,000 GC activates the bonus game, which allows a choice of the three games described below. Each game was played a total of 100 times in sets of 10, going in Game 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3 order. Mean and standard deviations were then compared with a Student's T-Test to determine differences between the games.
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Game 1: "Sure Win": This bonus game features a total of 8 spins, which any bonus symbol provides a free spin. The "Sure win" features guarantees a minimum win each spin dependent on an initial bonus added to whatever is won on previous spins. (i.e, if the sure win total is 1000, and a spin wins 2000, then the spin will win a total of 3000 and every spin after wins at least 3000.  

Game 2: "Multiplier": In this bonus game wins are multiplied by the multiplier value. The value of the multiplier starts at 1X and then each win increases the multiplier 1 as does each new spin. The player gets 8 spins and if 5 bonus symbols are collected the player is awarded 5 additional spins.  

Game 3: "Slot Track":  In the third game, the player has a track that starts with 4 coins on it each with a different win total (e.g., 5x = 5 times initial bet of 1000 or 5000 GC). The game continues with each round with random modifiers that may or may not show in the middle. These include "collect" coin modifiers that remove the coins from the board and add to the win total. Each new round adds a new coin to the board and the game will continue until a coin is pushed off the track.  

RESULTS:  A total of 100 games at 102,000 GC were played for each bonus game type at a total cost of 10,200,000 GC. First, a comparison of average winnings per game (Figure 4) revealed that there was no statistical difference between the different games. All the games had exceptional range of outcomes from a few thousand (lowest was 2,100) to multiple hundreds of thousands (biggest win was 848,000) of GC per game (Table 1). Additionally the median win was roughly half of the money bet and total winnings were actually losses for each of the games with "Sure win" losing the most (~1.7 million), while "Coin track" lost the least (~0.2 million), of the ~10 million bet for each game. Finally, in evaluating the average numbers of wins (achieving >102,000 GC) per 10 games played - all the games were roughly 2.5 wins per 10 games (Figure 5).

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:  Despite a strong effort from the "Coin Track" bonus game, mathematics tells us that there is no difference between the 3 bonus games. Perhaps if a 1000 games of each were played a difference might be apparent - perhaps a project for a rainy day. Overall, across the 3 bonus games there was a return of 89.9%, which is on par with the global average for slot machines. Perhaps this methodology could be useful in finding better online slot machines. However, it remains unclear if playing for GC is a good representation for when actual money is used - future research will be needed to answer this question (Donate today!). In conclusion, although this experiment demonstrates that slot machines only provide an illusion of choice - the thrills and excitement still felt real. Future studies will examine strategies to overcome gambling addiction.




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