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29 May 2016
By John Grochowski
QUESTION: I was wondering if there is a list of which machine has a higher payout. I looked at New York Gaming Commission and couldn't find my answer. I was looking for the percentages or odds of the games at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino.
Do they have to post it somewhere? I sent a private Facebook message to the casino and they couldn't help me.
I assumed that they don't really have to have this information posted anywhere.
ANSWER: Odds or payback percentages of individual slot machines are not published.
In most states, the gaming commissions publish a breakdown by coin denomination at commercial casinos, giving you the average payback on penny machines, the average on nickels, and so on, but do not publish the odds for individual machines.
Even that doesn't apply to tribal casinos. Native American tribes are sovereign nations, and do not have to share their data. So you could look up the average return of penny machines at a casino in Atlantic City, for example, but you’d be unlikely to find the same information for a tribal casino anywhere in the nation.
QUESTION: Is there a minimum legal payout percentage on slot machines? Can the casino just make the paybacks whatever they want? If there is a minimum, is that for the average of the casino’s machines, or for every machine?
ANSWER: In commercial casinos, minimum slot paybacks are set and regulated by state gaming boards or commissions. Those figures vary state by state, but tend to hover around 80%. Mississippi, Louisiana, Colorado and Illinois all have the 80 percent minimum, while it’s a little higher at 83% in Indiana and New Jersey, and a little lower at 75% in Nevada.
In tribal casinos, minimum paybacks usually are written into the compacts with the states that authorize slot play. In Wisconsin, for example, tribal compacts specify a minimum payback of 80%.
These minimums apply to every machine in a casino, not just to the casino’s overall figure. In Illinois, for example, the regulation written so that is that no machine may have a theoretical return of less than 80% nor more than 100%.
That means having four machines returning 99% and one returning 60% would not satisfy the minimum requirement. Each individual machine must pay back at least the state minimum.
In practice, casinos are competitive and virtually all machines pay more than the legal minimum. In areas where other casinos are nearby, no operator wants to drive away business from players to flock to competitors’ higher-paying games.
Even in areas where a casino is on its own with no competition within hundreds of miles, the operator has to play a balancing act between extracting the most short-term profit from a game and keeping customers coming back. Players have to win sometimes, or they won’t keep playing. There’s danger in setting payback percentages too low.
QUESTION: I play Three Card Poker because I think it’s fun and relaxing. My friends keep pushing me to play blackjack instead. Should I make the switch?
ANSWER: If you take the time to study basic strategy, blackjack gives you a better shot to win than Three Card Poker does. No doubt that’s why your friends want you to switch. I understand that fully, and my main games are blackjack and video poker.
But if you’re playing for fun, and you have a better time at the Three Card Poker table, then by all means, do what you enjoy.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
22 May 2016QUESTION: I’ve wanted to have a go at counting cards, but I want to do it without spending any money. I play low limits and I want to give myself a fighting chance, but I’m not going to make a career out of this. Do you have recommendations for how to practice? I’ve found charts online on how much to count each card, but memorizing the chart and actually doing it seem like different things. ... (read more)
22 May 2016I do my best to answer questions from readers as they come in, although I will admit some get lost in the shuffle during particularly busy times. Once in a while, the answer I give does not match the question the reader really had in mind. Such was the case a short time ago when a woman drew a royal flush when playing nickel video poker. ... (read more)
19 May 2016Back in February, I relayed a couple of player stories about poker players who were tipping their hole cards. Hole cards aren’t exposed only in poker, though doing so can do you more damage than in games where you’re not playing against other players. Readers have sent me their own tales of exposed cards, ... (read more)