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Best of John Robison

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Ask the Slot Expert: Do racino slots pay less than casino slots?

6 March 2013

Do racino slots pay less than casino slots? Are they different systems from each other?

The answer to both questions is: maybe. I checked the payback information posted on the American Casino Guide site. In some cases, a racino had the higher long-term payback (e.g., New York's racinos at 92 percent versus Atlantic City's casinos at 89-92 percent). In others (e.g., dollar machines on the Las Vegas strip at 93 percent), the casinos had the higher long-term payback. The comparison is difficult to make accurately because I don't always have statistics by denomination, but I think it is safe to say that racinos don't necessarily pay less than casinos.

The way the outcomes of spins are determined depends on the legislation enabling slots at the racetrack. Some racinos have Class III machines, identical to the ones in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Tunica, which determine results using an internal random number generator. Others have Class II machines, which depend on a central computer system to determine the results using something like a bingo drawing or a scratch-off card.

Jackpots for all,
John


I was playing a slot machine (Griffin's Gate) and was winning quite often. At times, really big. I was doing so well that I actually made a couple of special trips just to play it.

Then all of a sudden I stopped winning on it.

Figuring it was just the law of averages, I continued to play at different times to see if I would win again (because I just knew I could win -- right) but it was to no avail.

Can the casinos recognize a slot that is paying too well and tweak it to not pay out as much? Can a casino, seeing that it is me by virtue of my player's card, program a slot to react accordingly based on my player's card being in the machine and therefore limiting me with different odds and can they do this casino-wide?

Joe O

Dear Joe O,

The answer to both of your questions is no. Doing the things you ask about is illegal in the United States. Machines have to display the result determined by the random number generator (RNG) without alteration. And the RNG cannot be influenced by any outside factor like how well a machine has been paying or who is playing.

What you experienced is not unusual. = I've had machines that were hot one day and cold the next. Circus Circus in Las Vegas used to have (and may still have) a turntable with high-paying slots in the casino. On one trip, I couldn't lose on those machines. Every one I played paid off. They were going to be my personal ATM in Las Vegas. A few months later, I couldn't win a thing on them.

When a machine stops paying, it's easy to think that the casino has done something to make the machine win back its prior largesse. Hot and cold streaks are just a consequence of randomness and you were lucky to hit a few hot streaks on the machine. Afterwards, you hit some cold streaks.

As for machines paying too well, keep in mind that you see only a very small portion of a machine's total performance. You may have won a lot of money on the machine, but you didn't see the players before or after you who lost a lot of money. Your doing well on the machine does not mean it was paying out too much.

As for casinos altering a machine based on using your player's card, I've had people claim using your card makes a machine pay off and others claim that using your card makes a machine be stingy. Both sides can't be right. The truth is that using your card has no effect whatsoever on the machine.

Jackpots for all,
John


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