Are Loose Slots Still Out There?

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Loose slots sign Fremont Street

Some players have been at it awhile, and the marketing has certainly evolved over time. Here’s a question from a player wondering if that marketing shift has broader implications:

I remember the old days with lots of coins used. Those machines always seemed to be set to loose or win with the different casinos claiming “loosest slots in town.” Were they different from slot machines used today?


There have definitely been changes between then and now, but some casinos still will advertise themselves as loosest. Some are actually data verified looser, while others are marketing that they were “voted” loosest slots, which is a bit of a popularity contest and not backed up by actual verified data.

There are ways to find looser slots, and casinos will still sometimes market that, but it isn’t a hook used nearly as often anymore. Some players will respond to it, but many just go to their favorite casino regardless.

Now, back in the days of coin machines, slots were generally in a smaller, looser range of payback options than they can be found now. Finding machines that were very high paying were more commonplace. Many machines couldn’t be set below 90 percent in an earlier era, and often were higher than that.

Casinos over time realized they could set machines lower (players don’t really know what they’re set at) and people would still play. Some required manufacturers to make lower paying settings available to buy their machines, and that led to the range we see today, roughly 85-98 percent paybacks in most cases.

This is backed up by a famous anecdote about the head of Harrah’s hearing a couple in an elevator talk about how the slots in one market was tighter than another, even though he knew the opposite was true. So he decided to lower the payouts, assuming players didn’t really know.

Studies since then have tried to both prove and refute that players can feel the difference between looser and tighter machines, but with the push to more volatile games and bigger top prizes, that’s added to the challenge for players to come away a winner.

So yes, it has definitely changed as casinos shift their focus to marketing big jackpot winners, new machines installed and other competitive advantages over looser slots. But that marketing hasn’t completely fallen off – some casinos will still use that as a marketing talking point, it’s just less common than it was in an earlier era.

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