Palms has the loosest slots, study says
By Paul
In Las Vegas, many casinos boast having the “loosest slots in town”. Now, slot-machine gamblers can arm themselves with the knowledge to test that claim, thanks to newly-released rankings of slot machine payout percentages that show which Las Vegas casinos set their slot machines with the best and worst payouts. And the figures show Internet casinos in a favourable light – the top-rated slots in the study can’t compete with the odds on offer at most Internet casinos.

Michael Shackleford, a former federal government actuary, has devised a system for analyzing payout settings for some of the most popular video reel machines, including International Game Technology's Wheel of Fortune and Austin Powers and WMS Industries' Reel 'em In.

According to Shackleford’s findings, the casino with the loosest slots in Las Vegas is The Palms, which opened only five months ago. 'This is fantastic,' Maloof said. 'It's an independent survey, and we're in a favorable light, so of course we'll be using it in our marketing. We'll exploit it. We'd be foolish not to.'

The Palms’ slots payout rate was 93.4% - which means that for every dollar wagered, on average the machine pays out 93.4 cents. Although slots are usually at the bottom end of the payout scale for Internet casinos, a low figure would usually be 94%, with some sites offering odds of 98%.

The range between payout percentages at the top and bottom casinos was almost 7%, meaning that a bettor at The Venetian, the lowest-rated casino, would expect to get back an average of 86.7 cents for every dollar played.

Nevada gambling rules require that slot machines have a payout rate of at least 75% of the money wagered. The precise payout rate is rarely indicated by casinos, but Shackleton’s findings look likely to form the basis of marketing by Las Vegas casinos in the future.

Dale Hambleton, director of slots for the Rampart Casino at the Resort at Summerlin, said marketing executives are always looking for ways to differentiate their casinos from the competition.

'Will we market these numbers?' asked Hambleton, whose property had the second-best payout return at 93.1%. 'Of course, we will. Slot players never knew payouts for the video reels before this survey, so we'd be foolish not to advertise how we compare with casinos all over Las Vegas.'

Slot marketing expert and Las Vegas advertising executive Ray Brown said using the survey is a certainty for the big casino operators.

'To be able to claim the best of something is a big advantage,' Brown said. 'Slot players know that the better the payout percentage, the longer they'll be able to play the machines. And time and again surveys tell us that the most important factor for players is the time spent at the device.'

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