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Slot Machine Payback Percentages


Most slot players have seen the advertisements or billboards proclaiming that the XYZ casino has the loosest slots in town. These ads may even say that the machines have a 98 percent payback percentage. In the casino you may see a sign reading that machines in a certain carousel have a guaranteed return of 99 percent. While all these claims may be truthful, they can be deceptive to the average player.

Payback is the overall percentage that a machine will return to the player in the long run. These figures are programmed into the machines computer chip and are set by the manufacturer to the specifications that the casino wishes to use for that machine. This may be anywhere from 75 to 99 percent. Some states regulate the minimum payback that a machine can return.

Many players believe they will win more on a machine that pays out 99 percent compared to a machine that pays out 94 percent but this is not necessarily true. The payback percentage is the profit that the casinos can expect to earn over the lifetime of the machine. The average player will never play long enough to see the overall return. Just because a machine has a payback of 99 percent that does not mean you will win back $98 for every $100 you play through the machine.

You might play $100 through a slot machine with a 94 percent payback and win $5,000 and then sit down and play $100 through a machine with a 99 percent return and lose it all in a few hours. There is no way of gauging the overall return if you only play a machine for a few hours or even a few days a year. The casinos can do have a way of checking the long term payback because they have access to the coin meters in the machines.

All of the slot machines have meters that record every coin put in and every coin paid out. In the new coinless with machines with bill receptors they would count the “credits” played through the machine. It all works out the same. If you receive a hand paid jackpot these meter reading are recorded on the pay voucher that the attendant takes to the cage when they get your money. Most casinos now have automated computerized systems that track all of this information from the machines into a central database. They can look any machine and determine the payback for any given period of time but you as the player will never be privy to this information.

Play Within Your Means
As a general rule the higher denomination slot machines have a greater overall payback percentage that the lower ones. Many players have heard that it is better to play the higher denomination machines because of the higher payback. If you can afford it by all means you should play the slots with the highest payback.

While this may be true if you visit the casino often and play a lot of slots it might not be the best advice for most players. If you have a limited bankroll and want to make your gambling dollars last longer you might be much better off playing a lower denomination machine. The worst thing a player can do is to play any game for more money than the can afford to lose or at a higher denomination than their bankroll will handle.

I am often asked if it would be better to play a sing coin in a dollar machine instead of three coins or four coins in a quarter slot machine because of the higher payback in the dollar machine. This sounds good in theory and will work if you can be content playing a single coin per spin. However, many of the new video slots offer games with multiple pay lines. Most players will want to play more than one line on these types of games so you have to consider the overall cost of a spin will be much higher than the base denomination of the machine. That is why your are seeing more and more of these machines in lower denominations such as nickels or even pennies.

The Best Advice
The best advice I can give you is to play the games you enjoy most at the highest denomination you can afford. As a recreational player your first goal is to have fun. If you only visit the casino occasionally the overall payback of the machine will not be much concern to you as you will probably never play long enough to see the long term affects of the payback percentages.

Until Next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

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