|If you compare the payout %ages between online casinos and land-based casinos, the online versions are decidedly more generous. And according to data released by the Nevada Gaming Control Board last Wednesday, the gap between Las Vegas strip payouts and online payouts looks set to widen, with results showing a trend toward lower slot machine payouts at Las Vegas Strip casinos for the past six years.|
The decreasing payouts may be explained in part to the recent popularity of nickel-slot machines. By quietly lowering the slot-payout rate, Vegas strip casinos kept 6.67% of all slot money they took in for May, meaning they kept $6.67 for every $100 wagered. In 1996, the average kept by casinos was $5.53 for every $100 wagered - rising to its current $6.15 for the 12 months through May.
According to UBS Warburg analyst Robin Farley, casinos are tightening their slots to offset cheap room and food prices, which are often seen as marketing tools to get people gambling: 'The casinos are using their room rates to get people in the doors, to get visitors walking through the casino floors,' she said. 'But if they're going to do that by lowering room rates, they're sure not going to be giving away as much on the casino floor.'
Gaming Control Board senior analyst Frank Streshley says casinos’ growing reluctance to part with their slot money may be behind the increased popularity of nickel machines in recent years. Streshley said that lower denomination machines, with nickels typically being the lowest, are often programmed to pay out less than their higher-denomination counterparts as part of a casino strategy to get people betting in higher amounts.
'Over the last five to 10 years, there have been more nickel machines moved into the mix,' he said.
Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. spokesman, Gary Thompson defended the lower payouts, saying that the trend toward nickel machines is valid and a major reason behind the lower payout rate: 'We’re not tightening up the slots. It’s the customers who are opting to go for the nickel games. They’re the ones driving the move toward nickel slots.'