THE LOOSEST SLOT AWARDS
Our annual compilation of the most generous slot operations in the nation
By Frank Legato
“Loose slots” are more valuable than ever. The “loosest” slots, tabulated by Casino Player, are those with the highest return-to-player (RTP) percentage—the highest payback percentage.
The reason loose slots are more valuable than ever is that overall payback percentage numbers have been stagnant for years. The aggregate percentage of all wagers returned to the players as wins ﬁrst dipped following the national recession of 2008.
Although the rest of the economy recovered, RTP did not. The 2020 pandemic and shutdowns only served to compound the problem. But there are still good returns to be had out there. You just need to know where to look. That’s where this annual feature comes in.
Casino Player started gathering statistics on payback percentage back in the early 1990s. Public information on monthly slot “hold”—that is, the portion of wagers held by the casino— were available, often broken down by denomination. In the early days of Casino Player, the editors began taking those statistics and ﬂip-ﬂopping them to show the overall payback percentages of slots, by casino or by region, however it was broken down by each jurisdiction. Those are the charts you ﬁnd in the back of this publication.
Casino marketing departments soon caught on, with advertisements referring to high-paying slots as “loose.” Casino Player decided to gather the statistics for an entire year, and in 1994, published the ﬁrst “Loosest Slots Awards.” The awards had a great eﬀect for the beneﬁt of players. Casinos wore their Loosest Slots awards as a badge of honor—and prime marketing point.
In all, the annual report is a much more accurate gauge of payback percentage than any one month, in which unusual wins or losses can skew the numbers, particularly in high denominations.
Slot machines come from the factory with a program that reﬂects a theoretical payback percentage. There are several payback programs, veriﬁed through computer simulation, available to slot oﬃcials. Statistics have shown that once in place over perhaps two to three months, the vast majority of slot games match their theoretical percentages with actual statistics.
Looking at those statistics in one place, like here, will show you where the most generous casinos are.
So, welcome to our 29th Loosest Slots report. Studying this report will show you the casinos that oﬀer players the best overall return, even considering the stagnant overall payback these days.
This report is based on hold/payback statistics logged over the 2022 calendar year. Before we get to the winners, we always like to provide answers to the most-frequently-asked questions about our report.
First of all, not all casinos are included in this report. We are restricted to reporting on the statistics that are publicly available, and for the most part, that includes all commercial casinos and many of the largest Native American casinos. Because Indian casinos are not subject to required reporting to state regulatory agencies, many of those casinos consider the statistics proprietary information, and do not report them publicly.
Last year, the state of Illinois stopped publicly reporting slot percentages. This is why Illinois casinos are no longer included in the report.
Our apologies if your favorite casino is not included.
Next, we are only able to report the numbers that are reported by the casinos. That is why you will not ﬁnd denominations broken out in many locations—such as New Jersey, where regulators stopped reporting separate denominations seven years ago.
Finally, 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 slots and video poker. However, you’ll ﬁnd that the casinos with the highest overall paybacks consistently oﬀer the highest-returning pay schedules on video poker.
And The Winners Are…
For the second year running, the award for Loosest Slots in the U.S. goes to Nassau OTB at Resorts World New York City, its 1,000 machines returning a remarkable 97.31 percent for 2022—virtually the same as in 2021.
Other than the single OTB-operated slots at Resorts World, Nevada remains the home of the nation’s loosest slots. After failing to make the top three last year, Reno retook the title of Loosest Slots in Nevada, as well as the second-loosest slots in the nation.
The third- and fourth-loosest slots in the country also are in Nevada, with the “Balance of County” region—the Clark County casinos outside of the Las Vegas Strip and Boulder Highway, such as the Orleans, the Palms, Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch—coming in third at 93.78 percent, just edging out Lake Tahoe at 93.55 percent.
Last year’s Nevada loose-slots winner, the Boulder Strip, didn’t make the top three this year.
Just behind Nevada on the overall Loosest Slots list are Florida’s parimutuel racetrack casinos, with Flagler Dog Track & Magic City Casino returning 93.49 percent overall, followed by Hialeah Park at 92.76 percent and Miami Jai Alai at 92.16 percent.
Elsewhere, in Atlantic City, the top of the Loosest Slots heap is unchanged from last year, with payback percentages nearly unchanged from 2021. Harrah’s Resort gets the Loosest Slots crown for Atlantic City, returning 91.56 percent of slot wagers last year. Right behind that was Borgata at 91.09 percent, and Hard Rock at 90.66 percent.
In other highlights, Cripple Creek takes the Colorado Loosest Slots crown at 92.81 percent of wagers returned to players. Connecticut’s two casinos once again trade places in Loosest Slots, while returning similar percentages to players. This year, it’s Foxwoods with the crown at 91.9 percent, with Mohegan Sun not far behind at 92.23 percent.
In Indiana, Horseshoe Indianapolis (formerly Indiana Grand) won a third straight Loosest Slots crown, returning 90.38 percent. In Massachusetts, Plainridge Park gets the crown at 92.98 percent.
In Louisiana, it’s Lake Charles for the second year running, again edging out Baton Rouge, this one a near tie at 90.74 percent to 90.55 percent.
In Pennsylvania, Wind Creek Bethlehem takes the crown at 91.28 percent. In Ohio, it’s Hollywood Columbus, edging out the former two-year winner, Jack Cleveland, 92.55 percent to 92.19 percent.
Our congratulations to the Loosest Slots winners. You’ve proven that you oﬀer your players the fairest shake in the business.
Click HERE to view the results by region