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Our annual report on the most generous slots in the USA


Once again, it’s time for our annual report on where to find the best, loosest slots in America! It has long been the mission of Strictly Slots to arm players with everything they need to have the best chance of winning. And when it comes to the slots, it’s about knowing where to play, and which casino has loose machines.

Many of you may not realize it, but it was actually our sister publication, Casino Player, that invented the notion of “loose slots” by publishing charts showing the overall payback percentages of slot floors monthly back in 1988.

At the time all casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City had been required to publicly report their “slot hold,” the portion of slot wagers kept from players after all of the dust had settled and the accounting was done. Casino Player’s editors decided to take those numbers and flip-flop them to achieve a “payback percentage.”

At first the casino operators were horrified that such information was now a part of the public domain. But it wasn’t long before they realized they could use this to their advantage and began aggressively advertising their “loose slots.”

Alas, the system wasn’t quite perfect. The payback percentages for any one month were not truly 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. So, it takes several months of play for a slot machine to begin to approach its “true” theoretical payback.

This was particularly true when it came to the higher denominations. For example, if a few lucky players happened to hit the $10 or $25 slots for a couple of sizeable jackpots, the monthly payback percentage number could be more than 100 percent, reflecting a number that obviously would be unviable for casinos in the long run. Within several months, enough players would lose on these machines to even out the percentage and reflect the comparatively small house advantage.

So the real gauge of “loose” would instead come in the statistics for an entire year. Player started compiling 12 months of data for the year 1993, publishing the first “Loosest Slots” awards in 1994. And a few years ago, Strictly Slots took over the survey and report.

Players love the report because it is based on historical fact, as opposed to manufacturers’ estimates of theoretical payback. While those theoretical numbers—included in our “Slot Spotlight” section—are accurate for individual machines, the actual statistics on which this report is based reveal the casinos that went the extra mile for their players in placing the games with the highest theoretical payback on their floors.

Welcome to the 2019 edition of our Loosest Slots report. For 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 a fair shake to the players on their slot floors.

As always, let’s first tackle a few answers to the questions that we always get about the report. First of all, we can’t cover everyone’s favorite casinos. Our results, both in our monthly payback charts and in this annual report, are based on publicly available statistics. And casinos report their hold numbers publicly only if required by law.

That’s the reason why so many Native American-owned casinos are excluded from the report. Indian nations are sovereign nations and are not subject to state gaming laws requiring that they report their slot hold numbers publicly, unless it is part of the agreement, or compact, between a tribe and the state (as in Connecticut).

It’s also why you will not find denominations broken out in many locations, such as New Jersey, where regulators stopped reporting denominations years ago.

And last but not least, the way the numbers are reported publicly is the reason video poker paybacks are not broken out in this report. No jurisdiction reports separate numbers for video poker. As a rule of thumb, though, you’ll find that the casinos with the highest overall paybacks consistently offer the highest-returning pay schedules on video poker.


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