By Bill Burton

Over the last year I have heard many players complain that they are not having as many jackpots on the slot machines as they used to have. I first heard this from a few of my friends who said they believed that the casinos were tightening the machines because the bad economy was forcing people to make fewer trips to the casino. I did not pay too much attention to this but then I started to notice other players posting the same opinions on several Internet forums. It seems many of the players have come to believe that every casino was lowering the payback percentage on all of their machines.

A month ago I was contacted by a newspaper reporter from Colorado who requested an interview with me. He said he was writing a story about the casinos lowering the payback on the slot machines that was making it harder for the players to win. He wanted my opinion on the subject and he was surprised with my answer.

Why Players Win Fewer Jackpots

I told him I do believe that some casinos may be ordering new machines with lower payout percentages but I did not believe that this was the main reason why players may not be winning as much as they used to. I gave him the following reasons for my answer.

Over the years there have been many myths associated with casino gambling. One of the most common ones is the belief that a casino can raise and lower a machines payback with the flip of a switch. This is not true because the slot machines have a computer chip in them that determines the pay back percentage. These are set at the factory. In order for a casino to change the pay back, they would have to change the chip. In most jurisdictions there is paper work that has to be filled and submitted to the Casino Control Commission for each machine if the chip is changed. It is time consuming and the chips are very expensive. For this reason, the cost of changing the chip in numerous machines on the casino floor does not make economical sense.

Many of the gambling jurisdictions around the country require the casinos to report the overall payout percentages on a monthly basis. (California is not one of the States) These figures are a matter of public record and are published in some newspapers and gaming publications. I looked back on these figures over the last year and saw that there was very little change most casinos around the country. In some instance there was even some of the payback percentage had increased.

A reason why some players feel that they may not be winning as often is the fact that many players are making fewer trips to the casino so they are not playing as many sessions. So because they are playing fewer sessions they will see fewer big jackpots and fewer winning sessions overall. It is all proportional.

Some players may have decided to play lower denomination machines. Many of the nickel and penny slot machines have a higher hit frequency, which means you will have many more smaller wins but not as many big jackpots.

What to Do

If you still honestly believe that your casino is lowering the return rate on the slot machines you have several course of actions. The easiest thing to do is to play the older machines. It is doubtful that a casino would go through the expense of putting a new chip in an older machine to lower the return rate.

You can try a new casino. You may find that your luck is better at a different casino and a change is your routine will let you enjoy some new experiences.

You can switch to video poker. It is the only machine game that will let you know the payback of the machine by reading the pay table. However, if you do decide to try video poker, make sure you learn the strategy or get a strategy card to bring along with you when you play.

Switch to the table games. Playing the table games is exciting and they offer a lower house edge than the slot machines. Many casinos give free table game lessons so you can learn the basics before you sit down.

Let me close by saying again that I do believe that there will be some machines on the casino floors with lower returns, however I do not believe that is as wide spread as the rumors would have you believe. The casinos are in competition with each other for your business so they do not want to alienate the players by offering games where nobody can win. Remember, as a customer/player you always have the option of taking your business elsewhere. The ultimate decision of where to play is entirely up to you.

Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes…..Knowledge Stays Forever.

Comment ( 6 )

  • jim

    this is the first and last time I read an article written by you. I just lost 132 straight pulls on a slot machine and no one can explain how that can happen except greed and cheating by the slot machine owner.

  • MaryAnne

    What I have found is that on this one particular machine, on the weekends it pays way better than during the week days. I don’t think it’s my imagination! I have actually gone back time and time again to this same game and found this to be true. Are the machines set to pay differently on the weekends when there are more people?

  • Brenda Richburg

    Hello there, very good article that i agree with around 75~90% depending on part read…..BUTTTTTTT…..i beg to defer, SIR😁, i dont go less , i go more as do many of my casino friends and we lose now more often, playing to gain back some loses, it seems in just this year ive spent an average of 400~600 $ a wk and havent made 100 in a night at the casino, y do i go for more insult? The main is something else too, “heyyy try again, you’ll win”, is its cheer on…..they move popular machines also, i believe to mix up players and to stop a good payout flow. Casinos are in bizness to 💰TAKE💰, im in bizness to💰 MAKE💰 and when i finally do (WIN BIG) I will ‘TAKE IT AND RUN”! nice talking ‘with’you.

  • pinkpansie

    I can remember when the casinos used to post their paybacks. When I lived in Las Vegas it was posted. When I moved to Florida, it was posted. I don’t see it posted anywhere now. I do remember that it was 97.2% when I first moved to Florida. I do wonder what it is now!

  • Jane

    So I had an issue at the augua Calle casino. I played a triple play 2 dollar machine. I played a specific game on it as usual. When I hit a royal the machine showed a completely different game and a 1 Dollar scale play after it hit. This was not the game I played or denomination!
    they changed my game from a switch upstairs. As they do now. This is corrupt and illegal .. isn’t it?.. it’s a dangerous field these Indian casinos are doing to steal your money there is no fair play and longer.. I witnessed this act and what they did.

  • Cindy

    When I was a slot auditor at a tribal casino the slot techs could easily change the pars on the machines whenever ordered to by Management. They would do it in the middle of the night and we would get new par sheets for each machine that was altered. Typically a machine would start with, say, a 7% par and after a few months (or even years, apparently depending on external factors like the economy or new management) it would be changed to 15%, for example. So the casino could briefly take advantage of a game’s popularity until people got tired of losing. I do not know if these changes required ordering a new chip from the manufacturer but a quick look at the par sheets could tell you the range of settings possible and which setting in particular your machine version had. The casino I worked at had no real competition for hundreds of miles and therefore had no incentive to be competitive. That is why I only gamble in gambling towns like Vegas, where there are millions of reasons for machines to be set with more generous payback percentages. In addition, my casino and other tribal casinos are often managed by tribal people who have no education or experience in the gaming industry and consequently make bizarre decisions. For instance, we had a $25 reel machine with a maximum jackpot of $25,000 that the machine was expected to hit once in the “lifetime” of the machine. (It said so on the par sheet.) When, after being on the floor for 15 years it finally hit, Management immediately changed the denomination to 25 cents so they wouldn’t have to pay out that jackpot again! There are so many things wrong with this decision but I think my point is made. Anyway, there is a lot to be said about doing your gambling in a casino with lots of competition!

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