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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Ask The Slot Expert

2 August 2001

Hey John,

When I lived in Missouri, the river boats would advertise their payout percentages on slots. Now I live in Colorado, where there's limited stakes gaming, and not one casino will disclose their payout percentages!

Fitzgeralds says they are 11% looser than the others, but they don't say what the figure is based upon.

What is the minimum allowed by the state?

Why doesn't Division of Gaming force the casinos to reveal payout percentages instead of keeping us playing in the dark?

Thanks,
Dewayne

Dear Dwayne:

I took a quick look at the Colorado Division of Gaming website (www.gaming.state.co.us) and I couldn't find any regulations that prohibit a casino from disclosing its payback percentages and I also couldn't find one that requires a casino to do so. I did find this regulation concerning the minimum payback:

12-47.1-813. Minimum payback - limit to a slot machine. The minimum theoretical payback value on a slot machine shall be at least eighty but not more than one hundred percent of the value of any credit played. However, this section shall not be construed to prohibit tournament slot machines with theoretical payback values greater than one hundred percent where such machines do not accept nor pay out coins or tokens.

In reality, payback percentages are much higher than the statutory minimums due to competition. Colorado doesn't release figures on a casino basis, but they do on a regional basis. In March 2001, Cripple Creek had the highest paybacks for nickel (93.5%) and quarter machines (94.6%), and Black Hawk was highest for dollar (95.4%) and $5 machines (96.5%). Overall, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek tied with an average payback of 94.5% for March.

Gambling requires trust. Gamblers trust the casino is running a fair game and that the state regulators are ensuring that all games are fair. One way to enhance the level of trust is to disclose payback percentages by casino. Colorado's gamblers may also benefit from having more detailed and verifiable (unlike the Fitzgerald's claim you mentioned) payback information when casinos increase their paybacks to get a competitive advantage over their competitors.

Colorado's state legislators wrote the gaming regulations. They can rewrite them. Write to your state legislators and tell them that you don't want to be kept in the dark when you wager your money, that you want to know which casinos have the best payouts on their slot machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@home.com.


For more information about slots and video poker, we recommend:

Break the One-Armed Bandits! by Frank Scoblete
Victory at Video Poker and Video Craps, Keno and Blackjack! by Frank Scoblete
Slot Conquest Audio Cassette Tape (60 minutes) with Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Slots & Video Poker! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
The Slot Machine Answer Book by John Grochowski
The Video Poker Answer Book by John Grochowski
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