It’s fairly common knowledge that slot machines don’t offer a particularly favorable ‘return on investment’ for the player. Even though this is largely self evident it can be difficult to quantify on a machine by machine basis. Simply put, there’s no way to conclusively determine the odds on a slot machine. The payouts are easy enough to find but this information is of little use unless we know the true odds of each reel and combination of reels appearing. We’ve provided some general tips for finding the loosest slot machines but the nature of the game makes these suggestions tough to quantify.
While you’re not going to find the machine by machine breakdown there is at least some actual data we can work with. The Nevada Gaming Control Board archives state gaming revenue data on their website. Every month, a new report covers the past month, past quarter and the past 12 month period. Even though this is specific to Nevada–and in most cases specific to certain counties in Nevada–it does provide some insight on the actual hold percentage of slot machines. We’ll take a look at some data for the 2018 calendar year and see what sort of conclusions we can reach.
One important note–the gaming revenue reports don’t break down individual numbers for slot and video poker machines (or for that matter video keno). Since most video poker games offer a low house edge, you can assume that the actual house edge for slot machines is higher than the win percentage reported by the State of Nevada.
SLOT MACHINE GAMING REVENUE DATA
The graphic below shows the revenue figures for all non-restricted gaming licensees in the state of Nevada for the 2018 calendar year. ‘Restricted’ licensees are establishments like grocery stores or convenience stores which can operate no more than 15 slot machines. Any property with more than 15 slots or with other table games/sports books, etc. Are ‘non restricted’ licensees. Slot machine ‘route operators’ are also considered ‘non-restricted’ licensees which clouds the distinction in some ways. For example, the slot machines in 7-11 and Terrible Herbst stores are part of ‘slot routes’.
Interesting that the win percentage for 5 cent machines is lower than 25 cent machines. Now we’ll look at the same data for all non-restricted locations in Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas and Laughlin):
Now we’ll look at the same data for downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip:
Overall, downtown Las Vegas has a lower ‘hold’ than The Strip though the difference is far less than you might expect. Not sure if this is a short term aberration of a new reality.
The data does help validate our tips for finding loose slot machines. The disparity between the 5 cent and 25 cent machines is interesting and something I’m going to look into in more detail. The Megabucks hold is anywhere from 13 to 13.5% statewide. On balance, the casinos in Washoe County (Reno and Sparks) hold 2% to 3% less on their slot machines than their neighbors to the South.
Stay tuned for more statistical insights on slot machines as well as other casino games. We’ll also try to get some data on which casinos have the best payback on slots and video poker.