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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Are casinos getting tighter?

16 July 2007

I have been reading your letters for some time now and I really enjoy them.

my wife and I go to the casinos a lot and any more it seems no matter what casino you are in you cant win nothing off the slots anymore.we just got back from a casino in ok.

and I dropped 400.00 in the slots and didn't get nothing.

are the casinos getting tighter?

Yes and no. I don't think the average payback for the various denominations has gone done over the years, but what has happened is that the mix of denominations on the slot floor has changed. With the popularity of video slots, there are many more low denomination (nickel and below) machines on the slot floor today. These machines usually have lower long-term paybacks than the higher-denomination machines they are replacing, so the overall payback in the casino goes down.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


John,

Just a word about your comment on Class II machines. I was employed with a Class II vendor for a short period of time, and the following ideology was shared with me by a regulator with NY state and several people at my place of employment: Since the Class II machines are based upon the concept of bingo, and since you can't play bingo by yourself, there must be two people on a given title at any one time for the reels to stop spinning. I personally watched said NY regulator verify this on the new installation we had just completed.

I can only assume this means there must be at least two, but not an even number of players, i.e., the machines aren't "paired up." I hope this is of use to you.

Best regards,
William

P.S. I understand the concept of an RNG and the virtual reels being picked thereby determining the payout. Do you know anything about the unique scenario in NC casinos that have bonus features that I'm told have a "skill" basis to them? On these machines, the bonus round typically requires you to "pick" an approach to the outcome.

Dear William,

Thanks for sharing your experience with requiring multiple players on Class II machines.

As for the slots in North Carolina, the skill factor comes in being able to spin the reels twice and being able to decide which reels to hold for the second spin. It's the same as holding cards in video poker. I don't think there's any skill in the bonus rounds.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi , John,

I like to visit the casinos in Reno and Vegas, and have for many years. But in the last few years it seems as if the casino owners have tightened up the machines to the point where you can't play on your money for more than a few seconds, and they ain't payin off enough to let you have fun.

Have they all forgotten where the huge amounts of profit come from? I don't really think I'm going to get rich off the slots, but I would like to play for a while on my money. The casinos' tactics are making me kinda rethink my spending 5-8 days in Reno or Vegas three to five times a year.

I know I spend a lot while there, and I go to get my elderly parents to go somewhere, but if I can't even play a few hours on my money, I may find another place to go. No point in going if the casino owners are going to be so stingy with the money. As it is I have come to see them for around 35 years, and the last few are not as fun, don't get to win anything, just keep moving and putting in more bills.

Not any good deals on meals or rooms any more either. I do believe the owners of the casinos have forgotten where their very huge profits come from, all of those light ain't on 24-7 because people are winning buckets of money off the machines. For me, I just wish to go have fun for a week or so, play and go back home. But if it doesn't get more user friendly I will have to go elsewhere for fun.

What do you think?

Danny

Dear Danny,

As I said in my reply to the first letter in this column, I don't believe the casinos have lowered the paybacks on the various denominations.

I get many letters like yours and I have a couple of ideas about what is really happening to the players who think the casinos have tightened their machines.

First, these players could just be on losing streaks. A losing streak can last for many months or even years, so even a long losing streak doesn't prove anything about the machines.

Second, players are playing more and more video slots. If you usually play full coin on quarter slots, but now you're playing full coin on a nickel video slot, your risk per spin has gone from a buck or less per spin to about $4 or more per spin. You may be betting more per spin than the people playing dollar slots. If you aren't adequately bankrolled for the increased risk, you could run out of money after even a short dry spell. Even if you don't run out of money, your losses will tend to be higher because of the increased risk per spin.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots