There are plenty of articles that explore whether there’s a good time to play the online slot machines, but we’re going to take a slightly different twist. You can experiment with this twist to see how well it works. But don’t forget to come back and tell us how it goes.
So, what’s the twist? It involves using Google Trends to help you predict the busiest play times for the online slot machines. Knowing this could give you a slight edge when playing online, and we’ll explain why below.
First, I need to set the scene…
…Why Are Busy Times Important When Playing Online Slot Machines?
In short, busy periods can “load” the machines, meaning that they’re overdue a win.
People often argue about whether the timing is important when playing online slot machines. If you read our recent article about gambling myths, you’ll know that there’s no real skill involved.
But if you’ve ever played slot machines in a pub, you’ve probably had someone go straight after you thanking you for sinking all your money into it. They believe that the more people who play the machine without a win, the more likely it is to payout.
This is true, and it’s the same with online slot machines thanks to two factors:
1: The Return to Player (RTP) Ratio
The RTP is the amount of money the slot machine will return to players throughout its lifetime. It applies to all players collectively, not each player individually. In other words, if you play with £1, this doesn’t guarantee that YOU get £0.96 back, just that some player – any player – gets it back.
Still, online slot machines with a high RTP are likely to give you better odds of winning.
2. The Random Number Generator (RNG)
The RNG can be a bit difficult to understand. An RNG is a software that prevents the online slot machines from producing a distinguishable pattern outside their programmed odds.
For example, if they programme it to win 25% of the time, each spin of the reel always has a 25% chance of winning, and this never changes. You are never more or less likely to win than 25%.
With UK casinos, casinos have to test both the RNG and RTP independently to prove accuracy. Therefore, I’d recommend sticking to these casinos if you live in the UK because it affords you better consumer protection.
How is This Relevant to Winning & Busy Times?
The RTP and RNG are relevant to timing when playing online slot machines because they can help you get an edge on other players.
The easiest way to find out when the most lucrative times to play are would be by looking at the playing logs that the casinos have. Obviously, the casinos won’t let you look – and I’m not sure if the Gambling Commission allows the casinos to look either, in case their employees use it to game the system.
Because of the RTP and RNG, the best time to play a slot machine is when it’s had a very busy period and not paid out for a while. This means that the machine is “loaded” and overdue a payout.
There’s no guarantee that it will payout, but it does give you an edge. Some people will still argue that each spin maintains a 25% chance of a win, and it does, but if it hasn’t paid out for 10 spins, it’s overdue a win.
So, if the best time to play a slot machine is when it’s been very busy and there’s been no payout for a while, to get the edge, you need to work out if there’s been a payout and if the slots have been busy.
Has There Been a Payout?
The casino won’t let you look behind the scenes, but there is a clue: the size of the jackpot. If nobody has won the jackpot in a while, then you know that the slot is overdue a win.
It doesn’t reflect if people have won smaller amounts, but you at least know on one variable that it’s overdue a win.
Have the Online Slot Machines Been Busy?
Here’s where Google Trends comes in, because whilst you can’t tell if a casino is busy per se, you CAN tell if a lot of people are searching Google for “online slot machines”.
There is obviously an assumption here – that if people are searching for a term like, “online slot machines”, it means they want to play, but it does seem like a reasonable assumption to make.
And the research I’ve done is interesting because I’ve researched several related key phrases and there is a definite pattern in how people are searching.
Have a look at the following, which is search popularity for the phrase “online slot machines” in the United Kingdom over the past 7 days:
Google Trends: Online Slot Machines searches April 22nd to April 28th 2020
I’ve never realised it before, but it looks as if online slot machines are more popular in the early hours of the morning. In particular, 3 am is the most popular 4 days out of 7. Saturday night is also an interesting one because the proportions of searches are spread more evenly from midnight to 7 am.
This did pique my curiosity and I searched for a few other similar terms. Here are the results:
Google Trends: Online Casinos searches April 22nd to April 28th 2020
Visit our Top 10 High Payout Slots article to find the best RTP slots in the UK.
Google Trends: Gambling searches April 22nd to April 28th 2020
They all show a consistent pattern: the early mornings are popular. There could be all sorts of reasons for this, from alcohol-fuelled gambling to non-UK players.
It doesn’t matter, because, with this information, coupled with knowing which slots are overdue a jackpot payout, you can potentially give yourself an edge.
Just be careful, because I also found another term that matches the same patterns above:
Google Trends: Gambling Addiction searches April 22nd to April 28th 2020
Just in case you think this could be something to do with the time settings for my Google Trends account, here’s a completely irrelevant term to compare:
Google Trends: Wine Delivery and Gambling searches April 22nd to April 28th 2020
Interestingly, people searched for each term in an inverse pattern. They searched “wine delivery” (blue) in the afternoon but “gambling” (red) in the early hours – except for Saturdays and Sundays, where peak searches for wine delivery are 10 am! When “wine delivery” searching was high, “gambling” searching was low, and vice versa. I don’t know what this means, but it’s odd.
Perhaps it’s a sign of these unprecedented times? Who knows.
With the above information, there’s no guarantee you’ll win more often, but it is a possibility. Playing just after popular times could potentially mean the online slot machines are loaded and ready to payout.
I’ve based the analysis on a single week’s worth of searches. It is something you’d need to follow long term to see if these patterns are consistent. You also need to play yourself to see if you do win more often just after peak search times. My guess is that you will, but that you should only ever gamble with money you can afford to lose.
Rachel Pine is our slots expert who has worked in the online gambling industry for 10+ years. Over the course of her career, Rachel has reviewed more than 3,000 slots.