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Loosest Slots 2012

Our annual nod to the most generous slots in the nation

by Frank Legato

 

For nearly as long as this magazine has been published, players have known it as the best source on where to get the best odds and the best returns on all casino games.

For slot machine players, this has been a particularly valuable mission. When Casino Player began publishing monthly payback percentage charts for the slots back in the late 1980s, many of our casino customers were appalled, and threatened to pull their ads. However, it soon became obvious that having the “loosest slots”—a term that grew directly from our publishing of the percentages—offered a distinct marketing advantage when seeking to draw players from competing casinos.

The payback percentages, by the way, are the portion of all slot wagers that are returned to the players in the form of winnings. Commercial casinos are required to report their “hold” percentages to regulators—that’s the portion of wagers left for the casino after all winnings are paid. Our charts flip-flopped those numbers to show payback percentages.

Initially, players had a lot of questions concerning the payback percentage charts: Why aren’t all denominations included? Why do the lists include regions in some places, and individual casinos in others? How on earth can a casino have a payback percentage above 100 percent on some slots?

That final question led directly to the feature you are reading right now. Percentage numbers for a single month don’t tell the entire story. If high-denomination slots get slammed with a few big jackpots, the number for the month will skew above 100 percent, meaning the casino lost money on that particular denomination for the month. Moreover, payback percentage is a long-term number; anything can happen in the short term.

It became obvious that statistics for several months provide a more accurate picture. Statistics for an entire year give you a crystal clear view of the casinos and regions that are the most generous on the slots. That is why, for 19 years, we have gathered all the statistics from regulatory agencies for each entire year as soon as the numbers have been available, and published our “Loosest Slots” issue in the spring.

On those other questions: We include the statistics as they are publicly reported. That’s why some places are reported as casino regions and other places are reported as individual casinos. The reports from regulatory agencies are the only place these numbers are available, including the divisions each agency requires concerning denominations. For example, the penny denomination—currently the most popular—was only added to the statistics by most jurisdictions recently. As of this report, Mississippi is the only major jurisdiction still without a separate penny category (some combine pennies and 2-cent slots).

Denominations like 10-cent and 50-cent slots are often wrapped into a special category for multi-denominational slots. Other jurisdictions include an “Other” category for all these stray denominations.

The fact that we can only report statistics as they are publicly revealed is also the reason you won’t find a separate payback category for video poker. Video poker and slots are combined in all reports. (However, in reality, the casinos with the highest overall payback percentages almost always have the best video poker pay schedules as well.)

Finally, you may not find your own jurisdiction in the reports. Some jurisdictions—notably, most Native American markets—do not require casinos to report hold percentages. Where it is not required, casinos consider this proprietary information.

Still, our Loosest Slots awards are the best gauge anywhere of which casinos and regions offer the best percentages on the slots. The following information is historical data—it’s not “theoretical” payback; it is the actual portion of slot wagers during calendar year 2011 that was returned to players.

 

And the Loosest Award Goes To…

 

Year after year, the same casinos and regions push themselves to the top of our Loosest Slots survey, but there are always a few surprises here and there.

One relative constant has been the very top of the national survey. For the fifth year in a row, the Loosest Slots in the Nation can be found in Reno, Nevada. The combined payback of Reno’s gaming halls—led by the Atlantis, the Peppermill, the Eldorado, the Silver Legacy, the original Harrah’s, the Grand Sierra and others—was 95.07 percent last year, basically the same as the year before and beating nearly all the other national slot markets by a healthy margin.

The reason we say “nearly” all others is that the No. 2 and No. 3 loosest slots in the nation were only behind Reno by a small fraction of a percentage point. And both were in Nevada. The casinos of the Boulder Strip—Sam’s Town, Boulder Station, Cannery East, Arizona Charlie’s—registered a combine 94.76 percent payback on their slots, followed closely by the casinos in the “Balance of Clark County”—off-Strip casinos like the Orleans, Hard Rock, The Palms, Gold Coast, Palace Station, Silverton, South Point, M, and the Primm casinos—at 94.7 percent.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is the casino registering the highest payback among casinos in jurisdictions that list the numbers of individual properties. For a decade, the winner there has remained the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois, which returned 93.57 percent of slot wagers to players last year.

There were comparatively few surprises this year. In Atlantic City, the Borgata (91.72 percent) regains the Loosest Slots crown it has worn most years since it opened in 2003. All three of the top casinos for loose slots in Atlantic City have changed from last year’s winners, Trump Taj Mahal, Borgata and Trump Plaza. This year, the Borgata is trailed only slightly by ACH (91.44 percent)—the former Atlantic City Hilton, as of this month known as the Atlantic Club—and Resorts (91.36 percent).

In Iowa, the Isle of Capri casinos normally swap the top spot. This year, Isle Waterloo (91.73 percent) takes the crown Loosest Slots crown from last year’s winner, Isle Marquette, edging out Isle Bettendorf (91.71 percent) and Prairie Meadows (91.69 percent).

In every other jurisdiction included in our survey, we have repeat winners, from Cripple Creek in Colorado to Mohegan Sun in Connecticut to Hoosier Park in Indiana to The Meadows in Pennsylvania.

Welcome to our 19th annual Loosest Slots report, your best source for knowing who gives the most back to players on the slots. Congratulations to all of our winners—you are the best at knowing how to treat your slot players. •

 

 

ATLANTIC CITY

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT & 2-CENT

AVERAGE

HARRAH’S

91.49

GOLDEN NUGGET

89.26

BORGATA

88.53

5-CENT
AC HILTON

93.28

TROPICANA

92.24

RESORTS

91.48

25-CENT
AC HILTON

92.56

TROPICANA

92.56

GOLDEN NUGGET

92.16

50-CENT
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL

96.12

TRUMP PLAZA

94.28

RESORTS

91.54

$1
AC HILTON

93.93

RESORTS

93.84

BALLY’S PARK PLACE

93.34

$5
GOLDEN NUGGET

96.41

AC HILTON

95.03

TRUMP PLAZA

94.30

$25
TRUMP PLAZA

96.49

BALLY’S PARK PLACE

95.04

HARRAH’S

94.23

$100
GOLDEN NUGGET

121.00

TRUMP PLAZA

104.14

BORGATA

94.33

Multi-denominational
BORGATA

94.54

CAESARS

93.56

TRUMP PLAZA

93.33

Other
CAESARS

95.71

BALLY’S PARK PLACE

95.15

RESORTS

93.78

Total
BORGATA

91.72

AC HILTON

91.44

RESORTS

91.36

 

COLORADO

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

CRIPPLE CREEK

91.64

CENTRAL CITY

90.80

BLACK HAWK

90.00

5-CENT
CENTRAL CITY

93.95

BLACK HAWK

93.58

CRIPPLE CREEK

93.18

25-CENT
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.37

BLACK HAWK

93.95

CENTRAL CITY

93.82

50-CENT
CRIPPLE CREEK

93.44

BLACK HAWK

92.44

CENTRAL CITY

90.92

$1
CENTRAL CITY

95.48

CRIPPLE CREEK

95.06

BLACK HAWK

94.50

$5
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.42

BLACK HAWK

94.83

CENTRAL CITY

94.65

Multi-denominational
CENTRAL CITY

95.88

CRIPPLE CREEK

95.36

BLACK HAWK

95.16

TOTAL
CRIPPLE CREEK

93.69

CENTRAL CITY

93.13

BLACK HAWK

92.84

 

CONNECTICUT

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

FOXWOODS

89.21

MOHEGAN SUN

89.14

2-CENT
FOXWOODS

90.26

MOHEGAN SUN

89.44

5-CENT
FOXWOODS

89.83

MOHEGAN SUN

88.69

25-CENT
FOXWOODS

92.04

MOHEGAN SUN

91.36

50-CENT
MOHEGAN SUN

92.02

FOXWOODS

90.71

$1
FOXWOODS

93.88

MOHEGAN SUN

93.36

$2
MOHEGAN SUN

97.18

FOXWOODS

0.00

$5
FOXWOODS

94.48

MOHEGAN SUN

93.78

$10
MOHEGAN SUN

96.01

FOXWOODS

95.82

$25
FOXWOODS

95.25

MOHEGAN SUN

95.22

$100
FOXWOODS

95.80

MOHEGAN SUN

93.69

Multi-denoninational
MOHEGAN SUN

95.03

FOXWOODS

94.68

TOTAL
MOHEGAN SUN

91.87

FOXWOODS

91.60

ILLINOIS

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

CASINO QUEEN

89.83

ALTON BELLE

89.34

JUMER’S

89.23

2-CENT
HARRAH’S METROPOLIS

88.29

PAR-A-DICE

88.18

HOLLYWOOD AURORA

87.99

5-CENT
ALTON BELLE

93.92

CASINO QUEEN

93.85

JUMER’S

93.28

25-CENT
CASINO QUEEN

95.53

ALTON BELLE

94.73

JUMER’S

94.56

50-CENT
CASINO QUEEN

96.03

HARRAH’S METROPOLIS

94.60

JUMER’S

93.23

$1
CASINO QUEEN

95.50

JUMER’S

94.76

HARRAH’S JOLIET

94.72

$5
ALTON BELLE

97.18

GRAND VICTORIA

95.93

CASINO QUEEN

95.93

$10
CASINO QUEEN

96.13

HARRAH’S JOLIET

95.63

HOLLYWOOD JOLIET

95.01

$25
JUMER’S

97.98

CASINO QUEEN

97.13

GRAND VICTORIA

97.12

TOTAL
CASINO QUEEN

93.57

ALTON BELLE

92.31

GRAND VICTORIA

92.23

 

INDIANA

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

RISING STAR

90.70

FRENCH LICK CASINO

89.63

INDIANA LIVE

89.23

2-CENT
FRENCH LICK CASINO

90.36

HOOSIER PARK

88.78

HOLLYWOOD

88.21

5-CENT
MAJESTIC STAR

94.88

MAJESTIC STAR II

94.28

FRENCH LICK CASINO

93.35

25-CENT
BELTERRA

94.33

MAJESTIC STAR

94.33

AMERISTAR

93.99

50-CENT
MAJESTIC STAR

92.98

BLUE CHIP CASINO

92.67

BELTERRA

92.03

$1
INDIANA LIVE

94.88

HOOSIER PARK

94.10

AMERISTAR

93.85

$5
HOOSIER PARK

95.97

MAJESTIC STAR II

95.48

INDIANA LIVE

95.36

$10
AZTAR EVANSVILLE

101.16

BELTERRA

96.81

HOLLYWOOD

95.24

$25
HOOSIER PARK

97.54

INDIANA LIVE

96.92

HOLLYWOOD

94.91

$100
FRENCH LICK CASINO

102.18

HORSESHOE SI

97.01

HOLLYWOOD

95.21

Total
HOOSIER PARK

91.90

INDIANA LIVE

91.83

RISING STAR

91.72

 

IOWA

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

WILD ROSE EMMETSBURG

90.31

WILD ROSE CLINTON

90.19

WATERLOO

90.04

5-CENT
DIAMOND JO

94.36

LAKESIDE

94.07

MYSTIQUE

93.97

25-CENT
DIAMOND JO WORTH

94.14

ISLE OF CAPRI MARQUETTE

94.13

RHTHYM CITY

93.88

$1
RHTHYM CITY

95.11

DIAMOND JO WORTH

95.06

MYSTIQUE

94.62

$2
RHTHYM CITY

95.93

AMERISTAR II

95.17

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

94.88

$5
RHTHYM CITY

96.04

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

95.80

ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

95.57

$10
ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

97.99

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

97.00

WATERLOO

96.78

$25
WATERLOO

99.10

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

96.06

ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

94.87

$100
WATERLOO

97.45

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

97.18

HORSESHOE

89.52

Other
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

94.08

RIVERSIDE CASINO RESORT

93.90

RHTHYM CITY

93.50

Total
WATERLOO

91.73

ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

91.71

PRAIRIE MEADOWS

91.69

 

 

LOUISIANA

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

LAKE CHARLES

89.10

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

88.79

BATON ROUGE

88.56

2-CENT
LAKE CHARLES

90.28

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

89.62

NEW ORLEANS

89.59

5-CENT
NEW ORLEANS

91.66

BATON ROUGE

91.10

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

90.93

25-CENT
BATON ROUGE

93.44

NEW ORLEANS

92.74

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

92.13

50-CENT
LAKE CHARLES

93.43

NEW ORLEANS

92.43

BATON ROUGE

92.08

$1
NEW ORLEANS

93.60

BATON ROUGE

93.43

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

93.22

$2
BATON ROUGE

94.88

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

91.95

NEW ORLEANS

88.43

$5
BATON ROUGE

94.98

LAKE CHARLES

94.88

NEW ORLEANS

94.18

$10
BATON ROUGE

95.28

LAKE CHARLES

94.27

NEW ORLEANS

93.83

$25
BATON ROUGE

94.48

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

92.59

LAKE CHARLES

92.18

$100
NEW ORLEANS

97.29

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

94.72

LAKE CHARLES

92.74

TOTAL
LAKE CHARLES

91.23

SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

90.89

BATON ROUGE

90.68

 

MISSISSIPPI

2011

YEAR END

5-CENT

AVERAGE

SOUTH RIVER REGION

95.08

COASTAL REGION

93.96

NORTH RIVER REGION

93.16

25-CENT
SOUTH RIVER REGION

93.45

NORTH RIVER REGION

93.29

COASTAL REGION

94.53

50-CENT
SOUTH RIVER REGION

93.94

NORTH RIVER REGION

92.93

COASTAL REGION

94.73

$1
SOUTH RIVER REGION

94.21

NORTH RIVER REGION

94.56

COASTAL REGION

94.45

$2
SOUTH RIVER REGION

95.32

NORTH RIVER REGION

95.05

COASTAL REGION

0.00

$5
SOUTH RIVER REGION

95.60

NORTH RIVER REGION

95.29

COASTAL REGION

94.88

$10
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.08

SOUTH RIVER REGION

95.08

COASTAL REGION

94.47

$25
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.77

COASTAL REGION

95.05

SOUTH RIVER REGION

94.13

$100
NORTH RIVER REGION

94.85

COASTAL REGION

93.29

SOUTH RIVER REGION

91.95

TOTAL
COASTAL REGION

92.80

SOUTH RIVER REGION

92.39

NORTH RIVER REGION

92.21

 

MISSOURI

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT/1-CENT TOKENIZED

AVERAGE

ST. JO FRONTIER

90.54

MARK TWAIN

89.73

ISLE OF CAPRI

89.42

5-CENT
MARK TWAIN

94.61

RIVER CITY

94.58

AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

94.47

25-CENT
ST. JO FRONTIER

94.91

RIVER CITY

94.24

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

94.16

50-CENT
MARK TWAIN

95.56

ARGOSY RIVERSIDE

93.61

AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

93.35

$1
RIVER CITY

94.27

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

93.55

ARGOSY RIVERSIDE

93.26

$2
LUMIERE PLACE

98.60

ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

96.78

HARRAH’S ST. LOUIS

94.33

$5
ISLE OF CAPRI

95.88

ARGOSY RIVERSIDE

95.83

AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

95.11

$10
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

95.31

LUMIERE PLACE

94.86

AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

94.54

$25
AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

96.69

ISLE OF CAPRI

96.28

ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

95.31

$100
HARRAH’S ST. LOUIS

127.55

RIVER CITY

96.31

HARRAH’S NORTH KC

95.06

Total
ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

91.53

RIVER CITY

91.34

ST. JO FRONTIER

91.17

 

NEVADA

2011

YEAR END

1-CENT

AVERAGE

RENO

92.18

MESQUITE

91.41

BOULDER STRIP

90.88

5-CENT
BOULDER STRIP

95.86

MESQUITE

95.78

BALANCE OF COUNTY

95.24

25-CENT
BOULDER STRIP

97.07

NORTH LAS VEGAS

96.55

BALANCE OF COUNTY

95.84

$1
NORTH LAS VEGAS

96.83

BOULDER STRIP

96.20

RENO

95.99

$5
RENO

96.25

BOULDER STRIP

96.01

LAUGHLIN

94.88

$25
RENO

97.46

LAS VEGAS STRIP

96.55

Megabucks
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS

90.01

RENO

89.24

BOULDER STRIP

88.42

Multi-denominational
RENO

95.93

MESQUITE

95.83

BALANCE OF COUNTY

95.76

Total
RENO

95.07

BOULDER STRIP

94.76

BALANCE OF COUNTY

94.70

 

PENNSYLVANIA

2011

YEAR END

TOTAL

AVERAGE

THE MEADOWS

91.92

PARX

90.67

MOUNT AIRY

90.57

 

 

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