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The Loosest Slots Award for 2013

The 20th annual edition of our report on the most generous slots in the business

By Frank Legato


LoosestSlotsAwardslogoThe mission of Casino Player has always been to equip players with the information they need to get the best chance at winning. In the area of slot machines, that has always meant two words: Loose slots.

Even the term is inextricably linked to this magazine. No one talked about “loose slots” before Player began, in the late 1980s, to publish monthly charts showing the percentage of all wagers on slot machines that casinos or casino regions were returning to players as slot payouts.

Casinos in commercial jurisdictions—at that time only Nevada and Atlantic City—had always been required to publicly report their “slot hold,” which is the portion of slot wagers kept or “won” from players after all the accounting was done. Player’s editors decided to take those numbers and flip-flop them to achieve a “payback percentage.” It wasn’t long before casino operators—who had been horrified at first that statistics once considered proprietary business information was now out in the public domain—began to use the fact that they had generous slots as a marketing tool.

It’s still a big foggy who actually coined the term, but soon after Player began publishing payback percentages, casinos were advertising their “loose slots.” There was still one problem, though—payback percentages for any one month were not really instructive when looking at how generous a casino was with its players. Payback percentages are set at the factory, the result of how many numbers each symbol was assigned in the program. It takes several months of play in the field for a slot machine to reach its “true” theoretical payback.

This was particularly true with the higher denominations. (The casinos report the hold numbers by denomination.) If a few lucky players hit the $5 or $25 slots for big jackpots, the monthly payback percentage number could be more than 100 percent, a number that obviously would be unworkable for casinos in the long term. Within several months, enough players would lose on these machines to even out the percentage and reflect the comparatively small house advantage.

That’s why in 1994, Casino Player compiled its first “Loosest Slots” issue, combining the statistics from a full 12 months to reflect an accurate portrayal of the overall payback percentages offered by each particular casino or region. The casinos used our “Loosest Slots Awards” as a badge of honor, trumpeting the “loosest” designation from billboards and in media ads.

Welcome to the 20th annual edition of our Loosest Slots report. Over two decades, this report has been viewed by casino operators as a competitive gauge for marketing purposes, but more importantly, it has afforded players a good picture of which casinos, by policy, offer the most fair shake to the players on their slot floors.

That’s because there’s nothing “theoretical” about these payback numbers. They are based on actual, historical statistics—this is how much real money was given back to players out of the thousands wagered each month on the slots. And, because it covers all 12 months of the previous year, it is quite simply the most accurate picture you will find of who offers the best returns on the slots.

As usual, there are common questions we receive from players that are best answered up front in this report. Why aren’t all denominations included? Why isn’t video poker broken out?

The answers to all of these questions are the same: 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.

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 of 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.

 

And the Winners Are…

There are many parts of our annual survey that result in no surprises. The top of the survey is one. For the sixth year in a row, Reno, Nevada, gets the award for Loosest Slots in the Nation.

In fact, the best even got better. The combined 2012 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 95.13 percent, up from 95.07 percent in 2011. The second- and third-highest slots in the nation, again repeating last year, are also in Nevada, with Balance of County second at 94.81 percent and Boulder Strip third at 94.42 percent. The latter two switched positions from last year, but it was essentially a dead heat.

(“Balance of County” refers to off-Strip casinos like the Orleans, Hard Rock, The Palms, Gold Coast, Palace Station, Silverton, South Point, M, and the Primm casinos. “Boulder Strip” refers to those casinos on and around Boulder Highway— Sam’s Town, Boulder Station, Cannery East, Arizona Charlie’s, etc.)

The three Nevada regions were each a full point “looser” than any other region in the nation. However, 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 more than a decade, the winner there has remained the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois, which receives another crown this year for the loosest slots among individual casinos, and the loosest in Illinois, at 93.23 percent.

Other notable results this year could be found in Pennsylvania, where the top three casinos—The Meadows (92.02 percent), Parx (90.59 percent) and Mount Airy (90.52 percent—were unchanged from last year, but the top figure from Meadows, south of Pittsburgh, was higher than last year—and higher than any of the Atlantic City casinos.

Additionally, in Iowa, Prairie Meadows moved from last year’s third place to top the survey, getting the Loosest Slots crown at 91.85 percent.

Finally, there was a new entry in this year’s survey—Ohio, where, with eight months’ results reported Hollywood Columbus edged out Hollywood Toledo, 90.9 percent to 90.81 percent.

The remaining entrants in the survey represent mostly repeat winners. In Atlantic City, the Borgata (91.68 percent) retains the Loosest Slots crown followed closely by Harrah’s and Resorts. Repeat awards go to Cripple Creek in Colorado, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, Hoosier Park in Indiana, Lake Charles in Louisiana, Isle of Capri Booneville in Missouri, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast casinos.

Congratulations to all of our winners—you’ve proven that you give your players a fair shake. And thanks to our readers for allowing us to give you the industry’s most comprehensive report on slot percentages for a full two decades.

 

ATLANTIC CITY

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT & 2-CENT

AVERAGE

 
HARRAH’S

90.31

 
GOLDEN NUGGET

89.02

 
BORGATA

88.53

 
     
5-CENT    
ATLANTIC CLUB

93.36

 
TROPICANA

92.26

 
BORGATA

91.68

 
     
25-CENT    
TROPICANA

93.03

 
ATLANTIC CLUB

92.97

 
TRUMP PLAZA

92.00

 
     
50-CENT    
HARRAH’S

140.37

 
TRUMP PLAZA

94.58

 
SHOWBOAT

93.91

 
     
$1    
BALLY’S PARK PLACE

93.63

 
ATLANTIC CLUB

93.58

 
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL

93.02

 
     
$5    
ATLANTIC CLUB

94.33

 
RESORTS

94.19

 
TRUMP TAJ MAHAL

94.06

 
     
$25    
ATLANTIC CLUB

97.70

*
TROPICANA

97.59

 
BALLY’S PARK PLACE

94.48

 
     
$100    
RESORTS

102.80

 
REVEL

93.68

****
SHOWBOAT

93.58

 
     
Multi-denominational    
BORGATA

94.71

 
ATLANTIC CLUB

93.97

 
CAESARS

93.74

 
     
Other    
CAESARS

95.44

 
TROPICANA

95.29

 
GOLDEN NUGGET

94.88

 
     
Total    
BORGATA

91.68

 
HARRAH’S

91.39

 
RESORTS

91.21

 
     
COLORADO

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
CRIPPLE CREEK

91.71

 
CENTRAL CITY

90.48

 
BLACK HAWK

89.93

 
     
5-CENT    
CENTRAL CITY

93.86

 
CRIPPLE CREEK

93.40

 
BLACK HAWK

93.32

 
     
10-CENT    
CRIPPLE CREEK

101.67

 
BLACK HAWK

94.03

 
CENTRAL CITY

0.00

 
     
25-CENT    
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.36

 
BLACK HAWK

93.94

 
CENTRAL CITY

93.72

 
     
50-CENT    
CRIPPLE CREEK

94.27

 
BLACK HAWK

93.18

 
CENTRAL CITY

92.68

 
     
$1    
CENTRAL CITY

95.63

 
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.18

 
BLACK HAWK

94.48

 
     
$5    
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.35

 
CENTRAL CITY

94.93

 
BLACK HAWK

94.83

 
     
Multi-denominational    
CENTRAL CITY

96.09

 
BLACK HAWK

95.27

 
CRIPPLE CREEK

95.16

 
     
TOTAL    
CRIPPLE CREEK

93.64

 
CENTRAL CITY

92.84

 
BLACK HAWK

92.75

 
     
CONNECTICUT

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
FOXWOODS

90.17

 
MOHEGAN SUN

89.35

 
     
2-CENT    
MOHEGAN SUN

89.10

 
FOXWOODS

74.23

 
     
5-CENT    
FOXWOODS

90.16

 
MOHEGAN SUN

88.43

 
     
25-CENT    
FOXWOODS

92.73

 
MOHEGAN SUN

91.48

 
     
50-CENT    
MOHEGAN SUN

91.77

 
FOXWOODS

86.25

 
     
$1    
FOXWOODS

94.23

 
MOHEGAN SUN

93.08

 
     
$5    
FOXWOODS

94.72

 
MOHEGAN SUN

93.87

 
     
$10    
MOHEGAN SUN

95.87

 
FOXWOODS

91.85

 
     
$25    
MOHEGAN SUN

94.13

 
FOXWOODS

94.03

 
     
$100    
FOXWOODS

95.03

 
MOHEGAN SUN

93.30

 
     
Multi-denoninational    
FOXWOODS

95.13

 
MOHEGAN SUN

95.12

 
     
TOTAL    
MOHEGAN SUN

91.74

 
FOXWOODS

91.62

 
     
ILLINOIS

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
CASINO QUEEN

89.23

 
ALTON BELLE

89.05

 
JUMER’S

88.87

 
     
2-CENT    
HARRAH’S METROPOLIS

89.25

 
PAR-A-DICE

88.32

 
HOLLYWOOD JOLIET

88.13

 
     
5-CENT    
ALTON BELLE

94.22

 
CASINO QUEEN

94.08

 
JUMER’S

93.87

 
     
25-CENT    
CASINO QUEEN

95.49

 
JUMER’S

95.03

 
ALTON BELLE

94.92

 
     
50-CENT    
CASINO QUEEN

96.18

 
JUMER’S

93.82

 
ALTON BELLE

93.12

 
     
$1    
CASINO QUEEN

95.06

 
JUMER’S

95.03

 
HARRAH’S JOLIET

95.02

 
     
$5    
ALTON BELLE

96.77

 
CASINO QUEEN

96.00

 
GRAND VICTORIA

95.20

 
     
$10    
CASINO QUEEN

96.43

 
HOLLYWOOD JOLIET

95.46

 
GRAND VICTORIA

94.76

 
     
$25    
JUMER’S

96.71

 
CASINO QUEEN

95.09

 
GRAND VICTORIA

94.00

 
     
TOTAL    
CASINO QUEEN

93.23

 
ALTON BELLE

92.23

 
HARRAH’S JOLIET

91.81

 
     
INDIANA

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
RISING STAR

90.63

 
FRENCH LICK CASINO

89.48

 
HOOSIER PARK

88.91

 
     
2-CENT    
FRENCH LICK CASINO

90.82

 
HOOSIER PARK

88.91

 
MAJESTIC STAR

88.82

 
     
5-CENT    
MAJESTIC STAR

94.86

 
MAJESTIC STAR II

94.47

 
FRENCH LICK CASINO

93.77

 
     
25-CENT    
MAJESTIC STAR

94.36

 
AMERISTAR

94.26

 
BELTERRA

94.25

 
     
50-CENT    
BLUE CHIP CASINO

93.13

 
MAJESTIC STAR

92.87

 
RISING STAR

92.13

 
     
$1    
INDIANA LIVE

94.78

 
HOOSIER PARK

94.38

 
MAJESTIC STAR II

93.94

 
     
$5    
HOOSIER PARK

95.86

 
RISING STAR

95.30

 
INDIANA LIVE

95.28

 
     
$10    
HOLLYWOOD

96.32

 
AZTAR EVANSVILLE

95.93

 
INDIANA LIVE

94.75

 
     
$25    
MAJESTIC STAR

97.73

 
HOOSIER PARK

97.58

 
BLUE CHIP CASINO

96.12

 
     
$100    
HOOSIER PARK

99.21

 
AMERISTAR

98.74

 
RISING STAR

98.65

 
     
Total    
HOOSIER PARK

91.96

 
RISING STAR

91.73

 
BLUE CHIP CASINO

91.60

 
     
IOWA

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
WILD ROSE EMMETSBURG

90.36

 
WILD ROSE CLINTON

90.25

 
ISLE OF CAPRI MARQUETTE

89.88

 
     
5-CENT    
GRAND FALLS CASINO RESORT

94.57

 
DIAMOND JO

94.43

 
RIVERSIDE CASINO RESORT

94.33

 
     
25-CENT    
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

94.01

 
DIAMOND JO WORTH

93.98

 
RHTHYM CITY

93.83

 
     
$1    
RHTHYM CITY

95.46

 
MYSTIQUE

95.08

 
DIAMOND JO WORTH

94.63

 
     
$2    
RHTHYM CITY

96.33

 
AMERISTAR II

95.77

 
WATERLOO

95.55

 
     
$5    
RHTHYM CITY

98.01

 
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

96.22

 
LAKESIDE

95.93

 
     
$10    
ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

96.81

 
WATERLOO

96.40

 
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

96.07

 
     
$25    
WATERLOO

96.36

 
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

95.93

 
ISLE OF CAPRI BETTENDORF

95.18

 
     
$100    
AMERISTAR II

99.09

 
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

98.97

 
WATERLOO

90.78

 
     
Other    
RIVERSIDE CASINO RESORT

94.46

 
RHTHYM CITY

94.18

 
WATERLOO

93.14

 
     
Total    
PRAIRIE MEADOWS

91.85

 
RHTHYM CITY

91.67

 
WATERLOO

91.53

 
     
LOUISIANA

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
LAKE CHARLES

88.78

 
BATON ROUGE

88.53

 
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

88.53

 
     
2-CENT    
LAKE CHARLES

89.78

 
NEW ORLEANS

89.53

 
BATON ROUGE

89.38

 
     
5-CENT    
NEW ORLEANS

92.48

 
BATON ROUGE

91.71

 
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

91.58

 
     
25-CENT    
BATON ROUGE

93.36

 
NEW ORLEANS

92.75

 
LAKE CHARLES

92.64

 
     
50-CENT    
LAKE CHARLES

94.31

 
NEW ORLEANS

92.24

 
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

89.57

 
     
$1    
BATON ROUGE

93.70

 
LAKE CHARLES

93.41

 
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

93.33

 
     
$2    
BATON ROUGE

95.35

 
NEW ORLEANS

88.64

 
LAKE CHARLES

87.85

 
     
$5    
LAKE CHARLES

94.61

 
NEW ORLEANS

94.55

 
BATON ROUGE

94.40

 
     
$10    
BATON ROUGE

95.64

 
LAKE CHARLES

94.33

 
NEW ORLEANS

92.39

 
     
$25    
LAKE CHARLES

94.63

 
BATON ROUGE

94.11

 
NEW ORLEANS

93.86

 
     
$100    
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

96.33

 
NEW ORLEANS

93.37

 
LAKE CHARLES

90.63

 
     
TOTAL    
LAKE CHARLES

91.47

 
SHREVEPORT/BOSSIER

90.77

 
BATON ROUGE

90.69

 
     
MISSISSIPPI

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
COASTAL REGION

91.29

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

91.23

 
CENTRAL REGION

91.15

 
     
5-CENT    
CENTRAL REGION

94.78

 
COASTAL REGION

94.28

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

93.78

 
     
25-CENT    
COASTAL REGION

94.51

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

93.38

 
CENTRAL REGION

93.28

 
     
50-CENT    
COASTAL REGION

94.31

 
CENTRAL REGION

93.52

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

93.50

 
     
$1    
NORTH RIVER REGION

94.76

 
CENTRAL REGION

94.69

 
COASTAL REGION

94.08

 
     
$2    
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.61

 
CENTRAL REGION

95.18

 
COASTAL REGION

0.00

 
     
$5    
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.22

 
CENTRAL REGION

95.18

 
COASTAL REGION

95.07

 
     
$10    
CENTRAL REGION

96.33

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.07

 
COASTAL REGION

93.63

 
     
$25    
NORTH RIVER REGION

95.80

 
CENTRAL REGION

94.78

 
COASTAL REGION

92.80

 
     
$100    
NORTH RIVER REGION

94.32

 
COASTAL REGION

93.99

 
CENTRAL REGION

88.36

 
     
TOTAL    
COASTAL REGION

92.78

 
NORTH RIVER REGION

92.36

 
CENTRAL REGION

92.27

 
     
MISSOURI

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT/1-CENT TOKENIZED

AVERAGE

 
ST. JO FRONTIER

90.18

 
MARK TWAIN

89.87

 
ISLE OF CAPRI

89.21

 
     
5-CENT    
ISLE OF CAPRI

95.44

 
ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

95.09

 
LUMIERE PLACE

94.98

 
     
25-CENT    
ST. JO FRONTIER

95.42

 
ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

94.22

 
RIVER CITY

94.21

 
     
50-CENT    
MARK TWAIN

95.85

 
RIVER CITY

95.20

*
LUMIERE PLACE

94.57

*
     
$1    
RIVER CITY

94.31

 
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

93.69

 
ARGOSY RIVERSIDE

93.33

 
     
$2    
RIVER CITY

100.47

*
LUMIERE PLACE

98.28

 
ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

96.43

 
     
$5    
AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

95.15

 
ST. JO FRONTIER

95.07

 
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

94.85

 
     
$10    
RIVER CITY

95.23

 
AMERISTAR ST. CHARLES

95.05

 
LUMIERE PLACE

94.80

 
     
$25    
AMERISTAR KANSAS CITY

96.24

 
LUMIERE PLACE

95.71

 
HARRAH’S MH/HOLLYWOOD

94.12

 
     
$100    
HARRAH’S NORTH KC

99.23

 
HARRAH’S MH/HOLLYWOOD

98.31

 
RIVER CITY

96.45

 
     
Total    
ISLE OF CAPRI BOONVILLE

91.34

 
RIVER CITY

91.06

 
ST. JO FRONTIER

91.04

 
     
NEVADA

2012

 

YEAR END

 
1-CENT

AVERAGE

 
RENO

92.42

 
MESQUITE

91.22

 
NORTH LAS VEGAS

90.88

 
     
5-CENT    
BOULDER STRIP

95.83

 
MESQUITE

95.81

 
BALANCE OF COUNTY

95.39

 
     
25-CENT    
BOULDER STRIP

96.80

 
NORTH LAS VEGAS

96.53

 
BALANCE OF COUNTY

95.77

 
     
$1    
NORTH LAS VEGAS

96.31

 
BOULDER STRIP

96.30

 
RENO

96.08

 
     
$5    
RENO

96.58

 
LAUGHLIN

94.80

 
BOULDER STRIP

94.73

 
     
$25    
LAS VEGAS STRIP

96.12

 
BOULDER STRIP

95.20

***
RENO

94.03

 
     
Megabucks    
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS

87.70

 
LAS VEGAS STRIP

87.26

 
MESQUITE

87.23

 
     
Multidenomination    
BALANCE OF COUNTY

96.04

 
RENO

95.91

 
MESQUITE

95.55

 
     
Total    
RENO

95.13

 
BALANCE OF COUNTY

94.81

 
BOULDER STRIP

94.42

 
     
OHIO

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
 

AVERAGE

 
HOLLYWOOD COLUMBUS

90.90

**
HOLLYWOOD TOLEDO

90.81

**
     
PENNSYLVANIA

2012

 
 

YEAR END

 
 

AVERAGE

 
THE MEADOWS

92.02

 
PARX

90.59

 
MOUNT AIRY

90.52

 
     
     
*6 months reported    
**8 months reported    
***9 months reported    
****10 months reported    

 

 

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