How to Win at Video Lottery Terminals

By Hans Fredrick

Updated September 22, 2017

Of all the games in Vegas, VLTs are those with the smallest element of skill.
i las vegas image by charles taylor from

Video lottery terminals are certainly a game of luck. There is no large element of skill the way there is in other casino games, like poker. Remember that no matter how good you think you are at playing a video lottery terminal, the house always has the edge. The only thing that you can do is learn which bets minimize the house edge. That way, you can help to minimize your odds of losing money over the long term, and maybe enjoy a few short-term wins.

Know when you're beat. One of the worst gambling mistakes that anyone can make is to throw good money after bad. This advice applies to playing cards, or playing VLTs. Know how much money you're willing to risk in one session before you sit down to play. If you lose that money, don't try to win it back. Walk away to play again another day.

Play machines that have a higher payback percentage. Payback percentage is the way that most experienced video lottery terminal players rate machines. This is the amount that they normally pay back for the amount that you pay in. A good rate is considered 98 percent. Normally, a machine that costs more to play, such as a $1 machine, will have a better payback percentage than a machine that only costs a penny per credit.

Play the extra bets that you need to in order to enable yourself to get to the bonus rounds. The only way to make real money at video lottery terminals is if you get to a bonus round. On most machines, you either need to max bet, play the maximum number of lines or make an extra bet in order to enable the bonus. You should always do this in order to increase your win percentage.

Bet the maximum number of coins and lines that you are allowed to on every bet. This can, on some machines, increase the expected return on your bet. Sometimes this might mean that you have to move down to a lower-level machine in order to stay within your bankroll.


Always read all the rules that are posted on the machine and in its help function before you begin playing.