Randomness means that something happens by chance, with no plan or purpose. In gambling, randomness means that no one can accurately predict what combinations or results will occur next. Casino games use different types of devices to make sure results are random. Examples include:
- spinning a roulette wheel
- shuffling a deck of cards
- rolling dice
Over the years, countless gamblers have tried to develop strategies to help them predict what will happen next, but no such strategies exist. Randomness in gambling means that it’s impossible for gamblers to control or accurately predict outcomes. (See Gambling Psychology 101 for other common mistaken beliefs.)
In slot machines and VLTs, random results are produced by a specialized computer chip called a random number generator (RNG). The RNG’s job is to cycle continuously through millions of numbers at several thousand numbers a second. When a player pushes the “spin” or “deal” button, the number that was available on the RNG at that split second is selected. Pushing the button a thousandth of a second earlier or later would result in a completely different outcome. The RNG runs continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even when no one is playing.
As you can see, random number generators make it impossible for a player (or the house, for that matter) to know what result will happen next. Some players mistakenly believe that if a machine has not paid out for a while, it is more likely to pay out or becomes “due” to pay. In reality, every spin has an equal chance of winning, no matter has happened previously.
There are many misunderstandings & myths about how gambling works that result from mistaken beliefs about randomness. Read more about them in the section called Gambling Pschology 101.
Chance is the word we often use to describe something that happens unpredictably and without an observable cause.
Luck is the word we often use when we prosper or succeed through chance.
Gambling involves chance. When people win in gambling, we often say they are lucky. This is true even though they “bought” a chance to win by risking their money. Paying money to “have a chance to win” and then not winning can be frustrating, but remember – not winning is what’s going to happen most of the time.
Some people believe that luck can be influenced or earned – that someone with “good fate” or who is “due” for a favour from a higher power will win more than lose. Thoughts like this can make someone vulnerable to gambling more than they can afford. The truth is that, while anyone can get “lucky” in the short term, over the long term gamblers are almost certain to spend more than they win (See Short Term Volatility versus Long term Predictability).