Its odds of winning would have had to have been so high that, by itself, it raised the odds of 25 other $25 slot machines to be over 100% for months at a time. Or, maybe it was a group of $25 slot machines. What’s the advantage play under this scenario? Well, that’s easy. Go to the Wendover casinos, find the $25 slot machines, and ask around. A slot machine house edge is known by casino managers as the “hold”, and hold percentages vary a great deal, and do tend to be smaller at more expensive slots, frequently found to be around 1- 3% at the five dollar slots. Most people wouldn’t play a slot machine that lost 99 times out of 100, though, so slot machine designers added additional, smaller prizes for getting two symbols out of three for certain symbols. And as long as they paid out less in prizes than the odds of hitting those jackpots, then those slots are guaranteed to make a profit in the long run.
Return to player (RTP) is one of the most-important concepts to slots players. Payback determines how much the average player wins from a slot machine.
A slots game with 95% RTP, for example, would theoretically deliver $0.95 back for every $1 wagered. A slot machine with 88% payback would only offer $0.88 for each dollar wagered.
Gamblers want to know slots’ RTP for obvious reasons. Knowing a machine’s payout percentage provides an indication on your long-term odds of winning.
But one of the most-common fears is that casinos can simply change slots odds whenever they feel like it. Many gamblers are convinced that casinos alter RTP for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to lower payback during busy hours or simply earn more overall profits.
This fear seems valid when considering that players don’t see the inner workings of slot machines. But are casinos really able to alter payback on a whim?
I’m going to discuss this matter by looking at how casinos change RTP, common beliefs on the subject and casino limitations in controlling payback.
Slot machine RTP is determined by the pay table and how often each prize is programmed to hit.
The pay schedule shows how many credits each symbol combination delivers. The pay table only tells so much, though, and doesn’t show how often each payout is programmed hit.
Each symbol features a certain number of “stops,” which determine how often it’ll land on the reels. Low-paying icons are always programmed with more stops than high-paying symbols.This aspect makes perfect sense when considering that casinos would lose money if they showered you with the jackpot and other large payouts. Instead, games offer lots of smaller prizes and rarely pay the jackpot.
A random number generator (RNG) ultimately determines which symbol combinations come up on each spin. Contrary to common opinion, the RNG does not determine payback.
Instead, this program merely cycles through different symbol combinations to determine the results of your spin. The RNG is more likely to include symbols that have a higher number of stops.
An RNG has no recollection of what happens on your previous spins. Instead, its main job is to come up with random results.
Again, icons with many stops will be chosen by the RNG more frequently than other symbols.
Casinos don’t need to worry about programming payout percentages — this is the game developer’s job. Instead, they simply consider what RTP they want to order for a given game.
Providers give land-based casinos a number of options to choose from when ordering payback.
Here’s an example:
- MGM Grand wants to order Aristocrat’s Game of Thrones.
- Aristocrat offers RTP choices of 88.0%, 90.0%, 92.0%, and 94.0%.
- MGM selects the version with 92.0% payback.
Online slots developers usually offer a uniform RTP for any game that they produce. Internet casinos that license their slots are then forced to use the provider’s chosen payout percentage.
But a minority of online slots providers do let casinos choose from preset RTP amounts (covered later).
How casinos change payout percentages depends upon the style of game. Payback for most land-based slot machines is determined by the EPROM chip located inside.
A gambling establishment can alter a machine’s RTP as long as they have the EPROM chip, which is sometimes the case. Theoretically, any casino that has these chips can change payback whenever they like.
The catch, though, is that many gambling jurisdictions require the casinos to report when they alter a game’s RTP. This process requires that a casino manager spends time filling out paperwork.
Some slot machines operate on downloadable software, which comes from a central server. In these cases, the casino doesn’t have to open a game and change a chip.
Instead, they can simply download the software to alter RTP. But just as with replacing an EPROM chip, casinos need to follow their jurisdiction’s guidelines when changing server-based payout percentages.
For starters, gambling venues can’t make these changes when somebody is playing a machine. Furthermore, they have to wait a certain amount of time before altering any game settings.
What’s the Common Belief about Casinos Changing Slots Payback?
Some slots players believe that casino owners and management can change RTP across the board by simply flipping a switch. This theory has been furthered propelled bythe rise of video slots.
Very few land-based slot machines operate on mechanical reels and levers these days. Instead, casinos mainly feature video slots that run through software programs.
Of course, gamblers’ fears are only magnified when dealing with online casinos. These websites are headquartered far away from most players, leading to concerns that internet casinos can do anything they want to slots payback without anybody knowing.
But what else beyond suspected greed leads players to believe that casinos will cheat them through lower RTP?
A driving force behind conspiracy theories is how slot machines are the streakiest casino game. Most slots only see players win around 20-40% of their spins, even with every payline activated.
Such low hit frequency leads gamblers to experience long losing streaks. In turn, these cold streaks cause players to theorize that casinos have changed RTP.
What’s the Real Story Behind Casinos’ Ability to Alter RTP?
Contrary to what some players believe, casinos don’t simply alter payout percentages whenever they feel like winning more money. Instead, gambling venues must go through the proper channels.
Earlier I covered how many jurisdictions require casinos to submit paperwork before changing the EPROM chip inside a slot machine.
Not only does an important employee waste time filling out paperwork and sending it to the local gambling control commission, but the casino must also pay for another EPROM chip. These chips are expensive, meaning it’s not economically viable to continue changing RTP.
Of course, server-based slot machines can be altered faster without opening machines. But there are deterrents from doing this as well.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board, for example, requires that casinos wait until a slot machine has been idle for at least four minutes before changing RTP. The slot must sit for another four minutes before it can be played after the change (8 minutes total). The Gaming Control Board also demands that casinos leave a message on the screen showing that the game’s programming is undergoing alterations.
Some Las Vegas slot machines are so popular that they have people standing off to the side waiting to play. Therefore, casinos can’t change RTP for these games until things slow down in the middle of the night.
More importantly, gambling establishments don’t like tying up games and preventing people from playing. This creates another situation where it doesn’t make economic sense to put games down for maintenance just to constantly change payback.
Casino employees’ time is valuable, especially with regard to managers. It would be a waste of resources and manpower to alter RTP from machine to machine.
Of course, none of this subsides fears that online casinos can change payout percentages as they please. But gaming sites face roadblocks in this regard too.
First off, internet casinos have little if anything to do with RTP for the slots they offer. Instead, their software providers determine payout percentages. When a provider like Microgaming, NetEnt, or Playtech creates a game, they also set a uniform payout percentage that’s offered across all online casinos. Therefore, sites that license these games don’t have a say in the payback.
In fewer cases, online casinos can choose from different RTP options just like land-based establishments. Realtime Gaming (RTG) commonly does this by offering their clients payout percentages ranging from 91.0% to 97.5%.
Casinos must decide on the chosen payback when ordering a certain game. They can’t, however, ask RTG to change payout percentages back and forth every day.
RTG allows gaming sites to choose from different payout percentages due to the various bonuses offered through their software setup. RTG offers total casino packages where they handle the bonuses, games, and more. Clients have some flexibility here and can either choose high bonuses with low slots RTP or vice versa.
In any case, you can see that there’s nothing nefarious going on with the average online casino and game provider. This is especially true when considering that many slots developers and casinos undergo third-party auditing to ensure that their games offer fair and random results.
Is there Any Truth to the Idea That Casinos Can Change Payback with a Switch?
Earlier I mentioned how some players believe that casinos can merely flip a switch to change all of their slot machines’ RTP.
I dismiss this idea, because casinos need to go through the proper channels to change payback. But is there any shred of truth to the switch-flipping concept?
A 2006 New York Times piece offers evidence that it’s possible for casinos to quickly change RTP for many different games.
This article revolves around a Treasure Island casino executive named Justin Beltram, who discusses how his casino was undergoing a technology experiment at the time.
The piece reads that “with a few clicks of his mouse” Beltram can reprogram the “denominations required to play, payback percentages, even game themes” for all of Treasure Island’s 1,790 slot machines.
Much of the article deals with how easy it is to change settings in server-based slots versus the EPROM-chip games. Beltram notes that he could change a game’s settings within “20 seconds” using this technology, compared to the lengthy and complicated process of opening machines to alter settings.
The executive also squashed the notion that his casino would abuse this power to win more money from players. Beltram insists that such practices would be bad for business and possibly lead to trouble with gaming regulators.
David G. Schwartz, director for UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, did express concerns about casinos changing payback through servers. “Let’s say you’re playing at 2 and you’re doing great and you come back at 6 and the pay tables have changed,” explains Schwartz.
While this is a valid concern, lowering odds and causing players to lose more is counterproductive to business. Nobody wants to play at a casino where they think that the odds are stacked against them.
Beltram notes that the goal of server-based slot machines is all about quickly catering to players’ demands. He told a story about a high roller who wanted to play a $25 Double Diamond machine. This game didn’t have server technology, forcing Treasure Island to order the chip from IGT and quickly replace the coin denomination before the high roller could begin playing.
Overall, the article suggests that while it’s possible for casinos to quickly change slots payback with server technology, this concept is more about meeting customer demands than anything.
Long story short, casino managers don’t have time to sit in their back office and switch RTP every time that they see somebody winning. Casinos already have the edge over players, and it’s not worth the time or repercussions to con gamblers.
The thought that casinos instantaneously change all of their slots payback is only one misbelief regarding the subject. Here are a few more myths surrounding how casinos handle slots RTP.
Slots Payback Happens on a Cycle
Some gamblers are convinced that slots payout percentages happen on a cycle. This idea stems from the belief that slot machines are programmed to offer payouts at specific intervals.
Here’s an example of how one might conceptualize this:
- Jackpot pays exactly once every 1 million spins.
- 1,000-coin prize pays every 250,000 spins.
- 500-coin prize pays every 50,000 spins.
- 100-coin prize pays every 10,000 spins.
- 50-coin prize pays every 5,000 spins.
- 5-coin prize pays every 50 spins.
- 1-coin prize pays every 10 spins.
Players who believe that slot machines work like this often think that they can win a jackpot by playing at the right point. They look for a jackpot that hasn’t been won in a while and start playing in hopes that the game is nearing the end of its payout cycle.
But slots results are determined by an RNG, which has no recollection of previous payouts and merely continues generating random results.
Jackpots and other payouts are programmed with specific odds. Certain jackpots may very well be programmed to pay every 1 million spins on average.
But the key is that this prize doesn’t have to pay out after exactly 1 million rounds. Instead, the jackpot can hit at 500k spins or 2 million spins.
Casinos Change RTP during the Day and Night
Another common slots myth is that casinos alter payout percentages throughout the day. This theory is based on the logic that slot machines are more generous during the less-busy day hours and tighter during the busier evening hours.
It makes sense to believe that casinos would tighten payback when they have more slots customers. Doing so would enable them to earn far more profits.
But this is just another theory that sounds good, yet isn’t steeped in reality. Casinos don’t change payout percentages very often, and they’re not going to waste time flip-flopping RTP based on the time of day. Gambling establishments are more worried about keeping slot machine seats filled. An occupied machine means that the casino is continually taking advantage of their edge over players.
If a slot has a 5% house edge, this means that casinos are winning a nickel for every dollar wagered by players. Assuming a gambler bets $600 per hour, the casino is making $30 on average (600 x 0.05).
The last thing a gambling establishment wants to do is lower payback and discourage people from playing during busy hours.
Many gamblers already become suspicious that payback has changed when they go through cold streaks. Casinos don’t want to add fuel to this fire by actually altering RTP just to increase an advantage that they already have.
Native American Casinos can Do Whatever They Want
I’ve covered the limitations facing gaming sites and commercial land-based casinos when altering slots payout percentages. But what about Native American casinos?
Some slots players believe that US tribal casinos can do whatever they want, because they’re located on sovereign ground. The reality, though, is that Native American casinos don’t have as much free rein as people think.
These casinos must comply with gambling regulations set forth by the tribe’s gambling commission. These standards are defined by negotiations between tribes and the state where they’re located.
Once the state and tribe come to an agreement, the pact must be approved by the US Department of the Interior.
Contrary to some players’ opinions, Native American gambling venues don’t make rules as they go and change slots payback whenever. Instead, they too have regulations that are discussed and approved by multiple parties.
Many gamblers picture casinos fiendishly lowering slots RTP to maximize their profits. But these theories are the result of misunderstandings about how the gambling industry works.
Most land-based and online casinos operate in jurisdictions that impose restrictions on alerting payout percentages. Some jurisdictions go as far as to require paperwork every time that casinos want to change RTP.
In other cases, gambling venues can quickly change payback through server technology. Even this comes with restrictions, though, including a machine being down while the casino changes payback.
Again, casinos already have the edge in slot machines. They know how much of an advantage they need to realize long-term profits when all other costs are included. The worst thing that a casino can do is get caught in a scandal where they’re lowering RTP just to make a few more bucks.
You can generally assume that most land-based slot machines offer anywhere from 88% to 95% RTP. Penny and nickel slots comprise the lower end, while quarter denominations and above constitute the higher end.
Online slots usually deliver between 95% and 97% payback. You can google individual slots or game providers to research online payout percentages.
You have little reason to fear casinos lowering RTP to a ridiculously small percentage. They have too much at stake if they’re caught, and gambling jurisdictions have rules against doing so.
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Find out what slot machines actually returned to the public. Just clickbelow to see slot machine payback statistics for casinos in all U.S. states.
|Nevada||New Jersey||New Mexico||New York|
|North Carolina||North Dakota||Ohio||Oklahoma|
|Oregon||Pennsylvania||Rhode Island||South Carolina|
|South Dakota||Texas||Washington||West Virginia|
ALABAMA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Alabama has three Indian casinos that offer Class II video gaming machines. They are not required to release payback statistics about their machines.
ARIZONA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
In mid-1993 Arizona’s Governor Symington signed a compact with the state’s tribes that allowed them to offer slot machines on their reservations.
The compact originally didn’t allow for any table games but in early 2003 blackjack was added as a permissible table game.
Arizona tribes aren’t required to release information on their slot machine percentage paybacks, however, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming, the terms of the compact require eachtribes’ machines to return the following minimum and maximum paybacks: video poker and video blackjack - 83% to 100%, slot machines - 80% to 100%, keno - 75% to 100%. Each tribe is free to setits machines to pay back anywhere within those limits.
ARKANSAS SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Arkansas has two pari-mutuel facilities featuring “electronic games of skill,” which are defined as “games played through any electronic device or machine that affords an opportunity for theexercise of skill or judgment where the outcome is not completely controlled by chance alone.”
The games offered are video poker, video blackjack, and “skill” slots where you have two opportunities to spin the reels. The “skill” factor comes into play because after seeing the results ofyour first spin you then have to decide whether to keep none, one, two, or all three of the symbols on each reel before you spin them again. Gaming regulations require that all of theelectronic games of skill must return a minimum of 83%.
For the one year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the average gaming machine’s return at Oaklawn was 92.81% and at Southland, it was 92.72%
CALIFORNIA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
California’s Indian casinos are legally allowed to offer electronic gaming machines, blackjack, and other house-banked card games. The games of craps and roulette are not permitted. However,some casinos do offer modified versions of craps and roulette that are played with cards rather than dice or roulette wheels.
Most California card rooms also offer some form of player-banked blackjack, but because they are prohibited by law from playing blackjack, the game is usually played to 22 rather than 21.Additionally, players must pay a commission to the house on every hand they play. The amount will vary depending on the rules of the house but, generally, it’s about two to five percent of thetotal amount bet. There are about 90 card rooms in California and you can see a listing of them on the Internet at http://www.cgcc.ca.gov
California’s tribes aren’t required to release information on their slot machine percentage paybacks and the state of California does not require any minimum returns.
COLORADO SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Here’s information, as supplied by Colorado’s Division of Gaming, showing the slot machine payback percentages for each city’s casinos for the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June30, 2019:
|Black Hawk||Central City||Cripple Creek|
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including video poker and video keno. The best returns for eachcategory are highlighted in bold print.
CONNECTICUT SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
The following information is from Connecticut’s Division of Special Revenue regarding Foxwoods’ slot payback percentages:
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each denomination of slot machine from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
Here's information from Connecticut's Division of Special Revenue regarding Mohegan Sun's slot payback percentages:
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each denomination of slot machine from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
DELAWARE SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Delaware’s three pari-mutuel facilities all feature slot machines. Technically, the machines are video lottery terminals (VLT’s) because they are operated in conjunction with the DelawareLottery. Unlike VLT’s in other states, however, Delaware’s machines payout in cash. The VLT’s also play other games including video poker, video keno, and video blackjack.
By law, all video lottery games must return between 87% and 95% of all wagers on an annual basis. Games can return above 95% but only with the Lottery Director’s approval.
According to figures from the Delaware Lottery for the twelve-month period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the average VLT return at Dover Downs was 92.59%, at Delaware Park itwas 92.12%, and at Harrington Raceway it was 92.03%.
In mid-2018 a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalized sports betting at all U.S. casinos. Delaware was one of the first states to act on the ruling and all three of the state’s casinos offersportsbooks.
In January 2010 the Delaware legislature approved the addition of table games for the state’s casinos.
FLORIDA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Florida has three forms of casino gambling: casino boats, Indian casinos and gaming machines at pari-mutuels in two south Florida counties.
The casino boats offer gamblers the opportunity to board ships that cruise offshore where casino gambling is legal. From the East Coast, the boats sail three miles out into the Atlantic Oceanand from the west coast the boats travel nine miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Since the casino boats travel in international waters they are free from regulations and the machines can be setto pay back whatever the operator wants without regard to a minimum payback percentage.
Florida has eight Indian gaming locations. The Seminole Tribe has seven and the eighth is on the Miccosukee Tribe’s reservation.
The Seminoles signed a compact with the state that allows them to offer both Class II and traditional Class III gaming machines. As part of their compact, five Seminole casinos are also allowedto offer the following:
- three-card poker
- let it ride
- pai gow poker
The Miccosukee Tribe has not signed a compact and they only offer Class II gaming machines at their casino.
Class II video gaming devices look like slot machines but are actually bingo games and the spinning reels are for “entertainment purposes only.” No public information is available concerningthe payback percentages on any gaming machines in Florida’s Indian casinos.
The other games allowed in all Indian casinos include
- high-stakes bingo
- video pull tabs
All of the casinos are open 24 hours (except Big Cypress) and all offer bingo except for both Seminole Hard Rock Casinos and the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek. The minimum gambling age is18 at all Indian casinos for bingo or poker and 21 for electronic gaming machines.
Broward County (home county of Fort Lauderdale) and Miami-Dade County both have four pari-mutuel facilities that each offer electronic gaming machines, but no table games.
Florida gaming regulations require a minimum payback of 85% on all gaming machines. From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the gaming machines at Magic City returned 93.43%, CasinoMiami returned 92.34%, Hialeah Park returned 93.55%, Gulfstream Park returned 92.16%, Dania Casino returned 92.68%, Big Easy returned 91.50%, Calder returned 91.32%, and The Isle returned90.22%.
GEORGIA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
There are two casino boats in Georgia which both sail three miles out into international waters where casino gambling is permitted.
Since the casino boats travel in international waters they are free from regulations and the machines can be set to pay back whatever the operator wants without regard to a minimum paybackpercentage.
IDAHO SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Idaho has six Indian casinos that offer electronic pull-tab machines and other video games. The machines don't pay out in cash. Instead they print out a receipt which must be cashed by a floorattendant or taken to the cashier’s cage. Some casinos also offer bingo (BG) and off-track betting (OTB).
The terms of the compact between the tribes and the state do not require any minimum payback percentage that the gaming machines must return to the public.
ILLINOIS SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Here’s information from the Illinois Gaming Board showing each casino’s average slot payback percentage for the one-year period from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018:
|Hollywood - Aurora||90.42|
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each casino for all of their electronic machines. As you can see, the Casino Queen returned the most to its slot machine players, whileHarrah's in Metropolis returned the least.
INDIANA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Following is information from the Indiana Gaming Commission regarding average slot payout percentages for the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019:
|Horseshoe Casino SI||90.09|
|Majestic Star II||89.88|
These figures reflect the average percentage returned by each casino for all of their electronic machines including slot machines, video poker, video keno, etc.
IOWA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Here’s information, as supplied by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, showing the electronic gaming machine payback percentages for all non-Indian locations for the one-year period fromJuly 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
|Wild Rose- Emmetsburg||90.61|
|Wild Rose- Clinton||90.56|
|Wild Rose- Jefferson||90.52|
|Diamond Jo Worth||90.52|
|Diamond Jo Dubuque||90.49|
|Casino Queen Marquette||90.19|
|Horseshoe Council Bluffs||89.66|
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each riverboat casino or pari-mutuel facility for all of its electronic machines including: slots, video poker, video keno, etc.
KANSAS SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
In April 2007 the Kansas legislature authorized local referendums to allow state-run casinos in four counties.
The Kansas Racing & Gaming Commission does not release information about the payback percentages on electronic gaming machines in Kansas. However, gaming regulations require that allmachines return no less than 87%.
There are also five Indian casinos in Kansas and they are not required to release information on their slot machine payback percentages. However, according to officials at the Kansas StateGaming Agency, which is responsible for overseeing the tribal-state compacts, 'the minimum payback percentage for electronic gaming devices is 80%.'
LOUISIANA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Gaming regulations require that gaming machines in casinos be programmed to pay back no less than 80% and no more than 99.9%. For video gaming machines at locations other than casinos, the lawrequires a minimum return of 80% and a maximum return of 94%.
Louisiana gaming statistics are not broken down by individual properties. Rather, they are classified by region: Baton Rouge (BR), Lake Charles (LC), New Orleans (NO) and Shreveport/BossierCity (SB).
The Baton Rouge casinos consist of the Belle of Baton Rouge, Hollywood Casino, L'Auberge and Evangeline Downs. The Lake Charles casinos include Isle of Capri, L’Auberge du Lac and Delta Downs.New Orleans area casinos are Amelia Belle, Boomtown, Harrah’s (landbased), Treasure Chest and Fairgrounds Raceway. The Shreveport/Bossier city casinos include Boomtown, Diamond Jack’s, Sam’sTown, Eldorado, Horseshoe, and Harrah’s Louisiana Downs.
Here’s information, as supplied by the Louisiana State Police-Riverboat Gaming Section, showing the average electronic machine payback percentages for each area’s casinos for the 12-monthperiod from June 1, 2018, through May 30, 2019:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including video poker and video keno. The best returns for eachcategory are highlighted in bold print and you can see that the Baton Rouge area casinos offered the best returns in most categories.
MAINE SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Maine has two racetrack casinos (racinos) that offer electronic gaming machines, as well as live table games.
State gaming regulations require a minimum return of 89% on all machines and during the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the average return on gaming machines atHollywood Casino was 90.15% and at Oxford Casino, it was 90.01%.
MARYLAND SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Maryland has five casinos that are allowed to offer electronic gaming machines, as well as live table games. However, Ocean Downs has no table games.
No public information is available about the actual payback percentages on gaming machines in Maryland. However, gaming regulations require a minimum payback of 87% on any one machine and allmachines within a casino must have an average payback of 90% to 95%.
MASSACHUSETTS SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill in late 2011 that legalized casinos. The law allows three casinos, in three different geographic regions, plus one slot parlor.
The slot parlor, Plainridge Park Casino, a harness racing track located about 40 miles southwest of Boston, opened June 24, 2015.
The first resort-casino license in Region B (Western Massachusetts) was awarded to MGM Resorts and their $1.3 billion casino, MGM Springfield, opened August 24, 2018.
The second license for Region A (Eastern Massachusetts) was awarded to Wynn Resorts and their $2 billion, Encore Everett, is expected to open in mid-2019. The final license for Region C(Southeastern Massachusetts) had not yet been awarded as of late 2018.
Additionally, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is planning to build a destination resort casino near Taunton. That facility, First Light Casino, was expected to open by late 2019. However, theproject has been hampered by lawsuits that might stop it from being completed.
Massachusetts gaming regulations require a minimum payback of 80% on all gaming machines. From July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the gaming machines at Plainridge Park returned 92.03%,91.39% at MGM Springfield* and 91.49% at Encore.**
* Stats for MGM Springfield began August 23, 2018, when it opened
** Stats for Encore are June 23- July 31, 2019.
MICHIGAN SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
There are 17 Indian casinos in Michigan and the tribes are not required to release information on their slot machine payback percentages. However, according to officials at the Michigan GamingControl Board, which is responsible for overseeing the tribal-state compacts, 'the machines must meet the minimum standards for machines in Nevada or New Jersey.' In Nevada, the minimum returnis 75% and in New Jersey, it's 83%. Therefore, Michigan's Indian casinos must return at least 75% in order to comply with the law.
There are also three privately owned casinos in Detroit, but their slot payback information is not made available to the public.
MINNESOTA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
All Minnesota casinos are located on Indian reservations and under a compact reached with the state the only table games permitted are card games such as blackjack and poker. Additionally, theonly kind of slot machines allowed are electronic video slot machines. Therefore, you will not find any mechanical slots that have traditional reels - only video screens
According to the terms of the compact between the state and the tribes, however, the minimum and maximum payouts are regulated as follows: video poker and video blackjack - 83% to 98%, slotmachines - 80% to 95%, keno - 75% to 95%. Each tribe is free to set its machines to pay back anywhere within those limits and the tribes do not release any information regarding their slotmachine percentage paybacks.
MISSISSIPPI SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
The Mississippi Gaming Commission does not break down its slot statistics by individual properties. Rather, they are classified by region.
The Coastal region includes Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay Saint Louis.
The North region includes Tunica, Greenville, and Lula.
The Central region includes Vicksburg and Natchez.
With that in mind here’s information, as supplied by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, showing the machine payback percentages for each area’s casinos for the one-year period from July 1,2018, through June 30, 2019:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including video poker and video keno. The best returns for eachcategory are highlighted in bold print and you can see that all of the gaming areas offer rather similar returns on their machines.
MISSOURI SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Here's information from the Missouri Gaming Commission regarding the payback percentages for each casino's electronic machines for the 12-month period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019:
|Ameristar- St. Charles||91.0|
|Harrah’s - N.K.C||90.1|
|Isle of Capri - Booneville||90.1|
|Isle of Capri - Cape Girardeau||89.7|
|Isle of Capri - K.C.||88.9|
|St. Jo Frontier||88.9|
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each casino for all of their electronic machines including slot machines, video poker, video keno, etc.
MONTANA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Montana law permits bars and taverns to have up to 20 video gaming devices that play video poker, video keno, or video bingo. These machines are operated in partnership with the state and arenot permitted to pay out in cash; instead, they print out a receipt which must be taken to a cashier. The maximum bet on these machines is $2 and the maximum payout is limited to $800. Montanagaming regulations require these machines to return a minimum of 80%.
There are seven Indian casinos offering video gaming machines that also print out a receipt. The maximum bet on these machines is $5 and the maximum payout is capped at $1,500. According toMontana's Gambling Control Division, there are no minimum payback percentages required for gaming machines on Indian reservations.
NEBRASKA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
No public information is available concerning the payback percentages on gaming machines in Nebraska.
NEVADA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
NEVADA - Lake Tahoe
Here’s information, as supplied by Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of the south shore casinos for the fiscal year beginning July 1,2017 and ending June 30, 2018:
And here's that same information for the north shore casinos:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned to the players on each denomination of machine. All electronic machines including slots, video poker and video keno are included in thesenumbers.
NEVADA - Las Vegas
Unlike New Jersey, the Nevada Gaming Control Board does not break down its slot statistics by individual properties. Rather, they are classified by area.
The annual gaming revenue report breaks the Las Vegas market down into two major tourist areas: the Strip and downtown. There is also a very large locals market in Las Vegas and those casinosare shown in the gaming revenue report as the Boulder Strip and North Las Vegas areas.
When choosing where to do your slot gambling, you may want to keep in mind the following slot payback percentages for Nevada's fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, and ending June 30, 2019:
1¢ Slot Machines
The Strip - 88.33%
Downtown - 88.96%
Boulder Strip - 90.53%
N. Las Vegas - 90.79%
5¢ Slot Machines
The Strip - 91.96%
Downtown - 93.32%
Boulder Strip - 96.30%
N. Las Vegas - 95.24%
25¢ Slot Machines
The Strip - 89.34%
Downtown - 93.91%
Boulder Strip - 95.77%
N. Las Vegas - 96.27%
$1 Slot Machines
The Strip - 92.34%
Downtown - 94.12%
Boulder Strip - 95.49%
N. Las Vegas - 95.62%
$1 Megabucks Machines
The Strip - 87.31%
Downtown - 86.40%
Boulder Strip - 87.61%
N. Las Vegas - 86.98%
All Slot Machines
The Strip - 91.84%
Downtown - 92.22%
Boulder Strip - 94.26%
N. Las Vegas - 93.34%
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned to the players on each denomination of machine. All electronic machines including slots, video poker, and video keno are included in thesenumbers and the highest-paying returns are shown in bold print. As you can see, the machines in downtown Las Vegas pay out slightly more than those located on the Las Vegas Strip.
Returns even better than the downtown casinos can be found at some of the other local casinos along Boulder Highway, such as Boulder Station and Sam's Town and also in the North Las Vegasarea which would include the Fiesta, Santa Fe and Texas Station casinos. Not only are those numbers among the best returns in the Las Vegas area, but they are also among the best paybackpercentages for anywhere in the United States.
NEVADA - Laughlin
Here’s information, as supplied by Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of Laughlin’s casinos for the fiscal year beginning July 1,2018, and ending June 30, 2019:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned to the players on each denomination of machine. All electronic machines including slots, video poker, and video keno are included in thesenumbers.
NEVADA - Reno
Here’s information, as supplied by Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of the Reno area casinos for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017and ending June 30, 2018:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including slots, video poker, and video keno.
NEVADA - Sparks
Here’s information, as supplied by Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of the Sparks area casinos for the fiscal year beginning July 1,2018, and ending June 30, 2019:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including slots, video poker, and video keno.
NEVADA - Wendover
Here’s information, as supplied by Nevada’s State Gaming Control Board, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of the Wendover area casinos for the fiscal year beginning July 1,2018 and ending June 30, 2019:
These numbers reflect the percentage of money returned on each denomination of machine and encompass all electronic machines including slots, video poker and video keno.
NEW JERSEY SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Following is information from the New Jersey Casino Control Commission regarding average slot payout percentages for the 12-month period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019:
These figures reflect the total percentages returned by each casino for all of their electronic machines which includes slot machines, video poker, etc.
NEW MEXICO SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
New Mexico's Indian casinos offer an assortment of table games and electronic gaming machines. Additionally, slot machines are allowed at the state's racetracks as well as at about 40 variousfraternal and veterans clubs.
New Mexico gaming regulations require that electronic machines at racetracks and fraternal/veterans organizations return a minimum of 80%.
New Mexico's Indian tribes do not make their slot machine payback percentages a matter of public record but the terms of the compact between the state and the tribes require all electronicgaming machines to also return a minimum of 80%.
NEW YORK SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
There are several Indian casinos located in upstate New York which offer traditional Class III casino gambling.
The terms of the compact between the tribes and the state allow table games and slot machines, including video keno and video poker. These machines do not pay out in cash. Instead, they printout a receipt which must be exchanged for cash.
There are also some Indian casinos that offer Class II gambling which consist of electronic gaming machines which look like slot machines, but are actually games of bingo and the spinning videoreels are for 'entertainment purposes only.' No public information is available concerning the payback percentages on gaming machines at Indian casinos.
Here’s information, as supplied by the New York Gaming Commission, showing the slot machine payback percentages for all of the casinos for the fiscal year from April 1, 2018, through March31, 2019:
|Resort's World Catskills||91.40|
In October 2001, legislation was passed to allow for the introduction of slot machine-type video lottery machines at New York racetracks. Officially referred to as Video Gaming Machines(VGM’s), they are regulated by the New York State Lottery Division.
All VGM's offer standard slot machine-type games, plus keno in denominations from five cents to $10. The machines all accept cash but do not pay out in cash. They print a receipt which must betaken to a cashier.
The legislation authorizing the VGM’s states, “the specifications for video lottery gaming shall be designed in such a manner as to pay prizes that average no less than ninety percent ofsales.”
Here's information, as supplied by the New York Lottery, showing the video gaming machine payback percentages for each of the state's racetracks for the fiscal year from April 1,2018, through March 31, 2019:
NORTH CAROLINA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
North Carolina has two Indian casinos and both are affiliated with the state's Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians which signed a compact with the state. According to the terms of thecompact, the video gaming machines are required to return a minimum of 83% and a maximum of 98%.
NORTH DAKOTA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
North Dakota has more than 800 sites throughout the state that offer blackjack, with betting limits of $1-$25, for the benefit of charities.
There are also six Indian casinos which are limited by law to the following maximum bet limits: blackjack-$100 (two tables in a casino may have limits up to $250), craps-$60, roulette-$50,slots/video poker-$25 and poker-$50 per bet, per round with a maximum of three rounds.
The terms of the state's compact with the tribes require gaming machines to return a minimum of 80% and a maximum of 100%. However, if a machine is affected by skill, such as video poker orvideo blackjack, the machines must return a minimum of 83%.
OHIO SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Ohio voters passed a statewide referendum in November 2009 to allow one casino to open in each of four major cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Toledo. There are also seven racetracksthat offer video lottery terminals.
Here’s information from the Ohio Casino Control Commission regarding the payback percentages for each racino and casino’s electronic machines for the twelve-month period from July 1,2018, through June 30, 2019:
OKLAHOMA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
All Oklahoma Indian casinos are allowed to offer both Class II and Class III gaming machines.
Most casinos offer only Class II machines which look like slot machines, but are actually games of bingo and the spinning video reels are for 'entertainment purposes only.' Some casinos alsooffer traditional Class III slots.
In either case, the gaming machines are not allowed to accept or payout in coins. All payouts must be done by a printed receipt or via an electronic debit card. No public information isavailable concerning the payback percentages on gaming machines in Oklahoma.
OREGON SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Oregon law permits bars and taverns to have up to six video lottery terminals that offer various versions of video poker. Racetracks are allowed to have no more than 10 machines. The maximumbet allowed is $2.50 and the maximum single payout on any machine is capped at $600.
These machines are the same as regular video gaming devices but are called lottery terminals because they are regulated by the state’s lottery commission which receives a share of eachmachine’s revenue. The machines accept cash but do not pay out in cash; instead, they print out a receipt which must be taken to a cashier.
According to figures from the Oregon Lottery, during its fiscal year from June 28, 2018, through June 25, 2019, the VLT’s had an approximate return of 92.34%.
There are nine Indian casinos in operation in Oregon. According to the governor’s office which regulates the Tribe’s compacts, 'there is no minimum payback percentage required on the Tribe’smachines. Each Tribe is free to set their own limits on their machines.'
PENNSYLVANIA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Pennsylvania gaming regulations require that gaming machines return a minimum of 85%.
The following is information from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regarding average slot payout percentages for the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019:
|Wind Creek Bethlehem||90.09|
|Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs||89.90|
|Lady Luck Nemacolin||89.34|
|Hollywood Casino at Penn National||89.38|
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RHODE ISLAND SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Rhode Island has two pari-mutuel facilities which both feature video lottery terminals (VLT’s). These machines are the same as regular video gaming devices but are called lottery terminalsbecause they are regulated by the state’s lottery commission which receives a share of each machine’s revenue. The machines accept cash but don’t pay out in cash; instead, they print out areceipt which must be taken to a cashier.
All VLT’s are programmed to play at least six different games: blackjack, keno, slots and three versions of poker (jacks or better, joker poker and deuces wild).
According to figures from the Rhode Island Lottery for the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the average VLT return at Twin River was 92.10% and at Tiverton, it was91.63%.
SOUTH CAROLINA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
South Carolina has two gambling cruise ships which sail three miles out into international waters where casino gambling is permitted. Since the casino boats travel in international waters theyare free from regulations and the machines can be set to pay back whatever the operators want without regard to a minimum payback percentage.
SOUTH DAKOTA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Here are statistics from the South Dakota Commission on Gaming for the payback percentages on all of Deadwood’s slot machines for the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30,2019:
In addition to the Deadwood casinos, there are also nine Indian casinos in South Dakota. No information is available on the payback percentages of the video gaming machines.
TEXAS SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Texas has one Indian casino which offers gaming machines based on bingo. It also offers pull tab machines, bingo, poker and a player-banked blackjack game where each player must pay acommission to the house for each bet that is made. The commission is 50¢ for $3-$50 bets and $1 for bets over $50. The minimum gambling age is 21 and the casino is open 24 hours daily.
Class II video gaming devices look like slot machines, but are actually bingo games and the spinning reels are for “entertainment purposes only.” No public information is available concerningthe payback percentages on any gaming machines in Texas’ Indian casino.
WASHINGTON SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
There are 28 Indian casinos operating in Washington and they all have compacts with the state allowing them to offer table games, as well as electronic ‘scratch’ ticket games which use a finitenumber of tickets with a predetermined number of winners and losers.
All of the state’s Tribes are not required to release information on their slot machine percentage paybacks. However, according to the terms of the compact between the Tribes and the state, theminimum prize payout for electronic ‘scratch’ ticket games is 75%.
WEST VIRGINIA SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
West Virginia has four pari-mutuel facilities and one resort hotel that feature video lottery terminals. The VLT’s are the same as regular video gaming devices but are called lottery terminalsbecause they are regulated by the state’s lottery commission which receives a share of each machine’s revenue.
West Virginia law requires that VLT’s return a minimum of 80% to a maximum of 95%. VLT games include slots, blackjack, keno and numerous versions of poker. The minimum gambling age is 21.
For the one-year period from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, the average return on VLT’s was: 88.97% at Mountaineer Park, 90.81% at Mardi Gras, 89.46% at Wheeling Island, 89.53%at Charles Town Races.
WISCONSIN SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
All Wisconsin casinos are located on Indian reservations and the Indian tribes are not required to release information on their slot machine percentage paybacks. However, according to the termsof the compact between the state and the tribes 'for games not affected by player skill, such as slot machines, the machine is required to return a minimum of 80% and a maximum of 100% of theamount wagered.'
WYOMING SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK STATISTICS
Wyoming has Indian casinos that offer Class II bingo-type gaming machines, plus traditional Class III slot machines.
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The machines don't pay out in cash. Instead they print out a receipt which must be cashed by a floor attendant or taken to the cashier's cage. You can also make bets via a cashless systemwhereby you get a 'smart' card and deposit money to that card's account. The machines will then deducts losses from, or credit wins to, your account.
No public information is available regarding the payback percentages on Wyoming's gaming machines.
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