Vegas Slots Online
It’s hard to imagine a trip to Vegas that doesn’t include putting some coins into a slots game. Vegas slots are 70%+ of the revenue for the casinos there, so somebody must be playing them. But being smart about how you play can be the difference between a trip with a good chance of winning combined with a lot of time spent gaming and a trip that ends up with a big loss after only a few minutes of frustrated play.
This page explains how to get the most enjoyment for your money when playing Vegas slots in addition to providing reviews of the most popular slot machine games you will find in Vegas.
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The Payback Percentage on Vegas Casino Games
All Vegas slot machines are programmed with a number called a “payback percentage”. This is the long-term expectation for how much of a player’s money is returned to him in winnings. The number is always less than 100%.
For example, if you’re playing a slots game with a payback percentage of 90%, you’ll win an average of $90 for every $100 you wager. Of course, you won’t see this happen literally on every spin. If you did, no one would play, because it would just be an exercise in trading $100 bills for $90 in change, over and over again.
In the long run, that’s exactly what you’re doing, but you’re in it for the possibility of a short term win. Therefore, volatility is your friend. You want to play games with high volatility but that also have a high payback percentage.
Unfortunately, the casinos don’t post the payback percentages on the slot machines, and you can’t calculate the number easily via observation, either.
What are you to do?
Luckily, magazines like Strictly Slots track payback percentages over long periods of time, so you can get an idea of the best places to play by looking at the average payback percentages in various locations.
I’ve done a little of your homework for you, and I’m going to spend the rest of this page sharing what I’ve learned about the payback percentages on slots at various denominations in various locations.
When you’re deciding where to play, factor in how much you can easily afford to play for, because the higher stakes games always offer better payback percentages. Then use that information combined with the info about the specific locales to choose a place to play.
The Boulder Strip
The casinos on the Boulder Strip tend to offer the loosest slot machine games in Las Vegas, at least at certain denominations. According to American Casino Guide, the payback percentage for nickel slots there averages 96.42%. That’s a 5% difference when compared to the 91.46% payout on the Vegas Strip.
How much money is that per hour? Suppose you play 600 spins per hour and wager 5 coins per spin at a nickel apiece. You’re putting $150 per hour into action. If you’re playing on the Boulder Strip, you’re looking at an expected hourly loss of $5.37.
But on the Las Vegas Strip, you’re looking at an expected hourly loss of $12.81.
Slot Machines on the Vegas Strip
In fact, the Vegas Strip has some of the tightest slots in Vegas (other than the games at the airport and in bars—I’ll cover those later). The overall payback percentage for casinos on the Strip is 92.5%. The Boulder Strip offers an average of 93.75%. That’s taking into account all the various denominations, though.
The high dollar slots on the Strip offer an okay chance to win. But if you’re a nickel or penny player, stick with the games on the Boulder Strip. The payout percentage is dramatically different.
Downtown Vegas Slots
Downtown Vegas has its own charms, but the payback percentage on the slots there isn’t one of them. They’re mostly comparable or a little bit better than the Strip. But if you’re a low roller, the best place to play is still the Boulder Strip.
Airport Slots and Slot Machines in Bars and Convenience Stores
The worst payout percentages you’ll find in Las Vegas are at the airport, at bars, and in convenience stores. People frequenting those places are there for some reason other than gambling, so the games are just there to entice a captive audience. The owners have no incentive to attract players with a great payback percentage or a bunch of loose slots.
No one goes to the airport with the goal of playing slots. They’re there to catch a plan. People go to bars to drink or look at girls or sing karaoke. They might plunk some change into a slot machine game while they’re there, but that’s not there reason for visiting.
By contrast, people visit casinos with the specific intention of gambling. In order to attract those customers, casinos try to compete with the other properties by offering looser machines.
You can have a lot of fun playing Vegas slots, but educate yourself about where the loosest slots in your denomination are before deciding where to play. The difference in how much you lose (and how fast) can be dramatic. The difference between losing an average of $5 per hour and losing $12 per hour can be significant.