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Ask the Slot Expert: How Does the Casino Pay for Prizes?21 March 2012
By John Robison
Thanks for the kind words.
I think I understand your question. Let's distinguish between prizes that are awarded when a combination lands on a payline and prizes that are awarded from drawings or players club points.
If a prize appears on the paytable of a slot machine, then its value is part of the long-term payback for the machine. Instead of a $40,000 car, the prize could be $40,000 in cash and the machine would have the same long-term payback. You can consider these prizes to be paid from the casino's bankroll.
Prizes that are awarded from drawings or players card promotions are usually charged against a marketing budget.
Prizes that are awarded to a random player currently playing a machine can go either way. When Mandalay Bay first opened, the machines were a little tighter than the strip norm, but the casino made up for the tightness with random bonuses. Making up the numbers, the machines may have paid back 90% on their own, but an additional 2% was given in random bonuses, so the overall payback percentage was 92%. Alternatively, the prizes can be charged against a marketing budget.
However the prizes are awarded, they have no effect on slot payback percentages. A 90% long-term payback machine is a 90% long-term payback machine regardless of whatever prizes the casino is giving away.
Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert™, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't reply to every question.
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