How Do Random Number Generators Impact Slot Machines?

Random Number Generators are key to providing all slots players with a fair chance.
9th November 2023

Random Number Generators Explained

We know this thought has crossed your mind mid-spin: how do online slot machines determine the outcome of a game? Enter the random number generator.

All of the slots on Virgin Games, as well as those you can play in person, use an algorithm called random number generators (RNGs). This produces a random sequence of numbers, which is linked to the reels on the slot. The point of this is to ensure that all of our players have a fair chance of winning on any of our slot games.

Want to know more? Read on to find out what they are, and why we use them.

What Are Random Number Generators?

RNGs are microprocessors, which determine the positioning of the reels whenever you press the ‘Spin’ button, selecting numbers at random every millisecond, which then produces the result. 

Whenever you play an online slot game, you will find symbols on the reels. While the number of symbols per reel can vary from game to game, the process that the RNG uses is the same. These symbols are linked to specific values by the RNG, which can be between 0 and up to around four billion whenever it is used.

After you hit the ‘Spin’ button, one of these values is randomly selected. This takes place independently on every reel in the game, with the reels then appearing as they were instructed by the numbers that were chosen.

Why Do Online Slot Machines Use Random Number Generators?

When you’re playing online slots - or any game for that matter - with real money at stake, you want to know that you have a fair chance of winning, right? Well, that’s why these machines use RNGs.

When the algorithm generates the randomly selected sequence of numbers, it guarantees that the outcome of every spin is unbiased. Although you may get similar results every now and then, that is down to complete chance. Every spin that you play on our online slot games gives you a fair chance to win, as every result is completely random.

Which Other Online Games Use Random Number Generators?

You may have wondered whether RNGs are only used when you play online slot games – but this is not the case. Any game that doesn’t use a live dealer will have an RNG to ensure that the results are completely random and fair - so this also applies when you play in our Online Casino, or any of our Slingo titles.

The reason why live casino games don’t need an RNG, as you might expect, is that you can see everything happen in real time, and there is no machine involved. You can watch the dealer spin the roulette wheel or deal the cards in the Blackjack deck­ – both in HD quality, might we add – just as you would in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Can Casinos Manipulate Random Number Generators?

RNGs cannot be manipulated in any way, shape or form, so don’t fret about that. When an RNG is used correctly, it cannot be altered to impact the subsequent results. Plus, if any licensed casino did try to manipulate the RNGs, they would lose that licence immediately. So, when you play at Virgin Games, you can always be sure that you have a perfectly fair chance of winning, exactly as it’s meant to be.

Can Online Slots Be ‘Hot’ or ‘Cold’?

You may have heard about the supposed theory that slot machines can either be hot or cold. This would mean that if a slot is hot, then it will pay out a greater number of wins than on average, and if it is cold, then you may have a longer losing streak than you would usually expect.

We’ve covered this theory in another post, along with a range of different slot myths, and as you might expect, there is no substance to this belief whatsoever. You will know by now that no matter what the sequence of results is when you play slots online, it is down to complete chance, thanks to the RNGs in every game.

What does the 'Return To Player Rate' Mean?

Read up on any of the games on our site, and you’ll see soon spot reference to the Return The Player – or RTP. This indicates the return you can expect if you play any game over a certain amount of time. If an RTP rate is 95.04%, then out of every £100 wagered on the game, we expect to pay out £95.04 on average.

When you find an online casino, Slingo or slot game to play – and we have plenty of those for you – if you find that the RTP is higher, then you are more likely to trigger more wins, but they probably won’t be as big as you might find in other games like our progressive jackpot slots.

If you’re the type of player who wants to land that jackpot, then keep an eye out for games with a lower RTP rate – we’re talking about those below 90% generally. These are known as high-volatile games where the wins may be harder to come by. But when they do, they could offer big payouts.

Don’t take the RTP rate as gospel, as it is only an average, but it can give you a good guide as to how the game works. You could, for example, trigger some free spins or another of the slot bonus features available, and win more real money in one go than would normally be accounted for in an RTP. Alternatively, you could win less than the RTP indicated. That’s just the luck of the draw – and the RNGs help with that.

Take a look at over 900 online slot games when you register with Virgin Games, where you can get 30 free spins on Double Bubble when you deposit and play with £10*.