6 Tricks Slot Machine Manufacturers and Casinos Use to Keep You Playing

Man Smiling Suspiciously on Left with a Closeup of a Slot Machine Screen on Right

Have you ever played on a slot machine and ended up playing a lot longer than you planned to play? Have you ever lost more money than you budgeted for slots play because you got so interested in the game that you didn’t want to stop playing?

If you’ve ever had either of these things happen, the odds are good that you’ve fallen for one of the sneaky tricks casinos and slots makers use to keep you playing.

Here are the six worst tricks that slot machine manufacturers and casinos use to get you hooked n their games and keep you playing for as long as they can.

1 – The Almost Win Spin

How many times have you been playing slots and the reels stopped one space from a big win, or even worse, stopped halfway between one line and another, making it look like you just missed a jackpot?

It’s been a long time since I played on a slot machine that stopped reels halfway between two rows, but some land-based machines were programmed this way in the old days.

Many slots players don’t know that the machines are designed to show you near misses often. Studies have shown that for most slots players when you get a near miss, it’s just as likely to keep you playing and, in some cases, more likely to keep you playing than when you have a winning spin.

I don’t claim to understand all of the science behind the studies, but the claim is that your brain produces a pleasure chemical on a near miss on a slot machine. Even though you don’t win, the chemical makes you want to keep playing so you can release more of the same chemical.

A near miss on a slot machine is a loss. You didn’t almost win because a near miss is exactly the same as any other spin where you don’t win.

2 – Losses That Look like Wins

I don’t remember the first time I saw this, but it wasn’t until years after I started playing slots. But sometime, quite a few years back, I sat down to play a new slot machine and started looking at the pay chart.

And I was floored by what I saw. The lowest paying combinations all paid back less than the cost of a spin. On most machines, the lowest paying combination pays back at least the same amount as the cost of a spin, but not on this machine.

For example, the cost of a spin is $1.25, but a win on certain combinations only pays back $1, or .75, or even .50.

Casino Slot Machines

Now I see slot machines that use this sneaky trick all of the time, but I refuse to play on any machine that does this.

When you take a spin and get back less than you bet, it’s a loss. But when a machine pays back something, your brain is trained to see this as a win. When a slot machine is programmed this way, you win something on more spins, but many times you’re still losing money.

3 – The Next Comp Level

Most gamblers call the comp program a slots club or players club or something like that. I call these clubs a comp scheme. It’s not that everything about a comps program is bad, but when I call it a scheme, it helps me remember that the program is in place to make the casino more money, not to help me.

Casinos don’t offer anything that isn’t designed to make the casino money. So it looks like a comps program or scheme is designed to give you something for free, but the casinos know that a comps program keeps you coming back to play more often and keeps you playing for a longer time when you do gamble.

Players Club Sign

Comps programs use levels to track how much to give you in rewards. As you gamble more, the rewards go up. So if you gamble a little longer, you might unlock the next level of rewards.

The truth is that this isn’t just an issue when you play slots. You can fall into the trap of chasing the next rewards level when you play any casino game. But most rewards programs pay slots players better than other gamblers, and this is just another way casinos keep you playing.

4 – Unlocking Bonus Rounds

I fall for this trick all of the time. I’m playing a slot machine with bonus rounds, and the more I play, the higher the odds of unlocking a bonus round or game.

If you can get to a bonus round or game, you usually win a nice amount of money. You rarely win enough to get ahead overall, but you can make up for some of your losses. If you can just get to the next bonus round, you can get a nice prize. So you keep playing and keep playing, trying to unlock the next bonus round.

The problem is that when you chase the next bonus round, you’re losing more money. And even if you know it’s a bad idea, you still find yourself chasing a bonus round.

The smartest slot machine makers let you track your progress to the next bonus round, so you can see exactly how close you are to unlocking it. So even if it shows you need to take 47 more spins, you know that you unlock a bonus round if you take those spins. When you see this, you keep playing even if it means you have to put more money in the machine.

5 – Advancing in the Story

Some slot machines have storylines that work a lot like unlocking bonus rounds. However, instead of just playing slots and hoping to win, you advance in the story.

A slot machine with a storyline gets you more involved in the game and keeps you playing longer. I’m surprised there aren’t more slot machines that have stories that you advance through because it’s one of the most effective ways to keep slot players playing.


When story slots were first introduced, I almost got hooked. I started playing and couldn’t stop. Eventually, I had to stop playing story slots for real money because I really enjoyed working through the stories. Instead, I started playing free online slots on some of these machines, so I wasn’t losing so much money.

Every slot machine is built to take your money, and if you play slots long enough, they’re going to take all of your money. The best way to combat this is to set and use strict limits every time you play slots. Set and use a time limit and a loss limit before playing slots and never break your limit.

6 – The Reload Bonus

When you’re playing online slots, I recommend using a bonus. Even if you can only get a sticky bonus that you can’t cash out, it’s still better than playing slots with a smaller bankroll.

Online and mobile casinos are just as smart as land-based casinos, and they know how to get the maximum amount of money from you. And this is where a slots reload bonus comes into play.

You make a deposit and get a nice bonus, and eventually, you either run out of money or your bankroll gets low. Many online and mobile casinos have a program that triggers when this happens and immediately offers you a reload bonus.

The casino doesn’t want you looking for another bonus at a different casino, so the casino tries to get you to deposit more money so you can get another bonus. And often, the reload bonus is even better than your original bonus.

It’s almost impossible to clear a slots bonus and make a profit, so the casinos can afford to give you good bonuses. Most online and mobile slots gamblers play until they run out of money, so the casinos play the odds. If they can get you to deposit more money, they have a good chance of keeping it.

In Summary

Casinos and slot machine manufacturers are sneaky. They know how to keep you interested and playing longer, and they pull every trick they have out of the bag. But once you know the tricks they use, you can avoid falling into their trap.

The easiest way to combat the tricks is to set a budget or limit and stick with it no matter what. Keep an eye out for slot machine tricks, so you never play longer than you planned. The longer you play on the slot machines, the higher your long-term losses are going to be.