Bets Keep Getting Bigger. The Methods Are Getting Trickier.

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Max bet vs. play button

Since the advent of modern slot machines, developers have been finding various ways to encourage players to up their bet.

Many of the earlier methods were clear and obvious. Some machines required you to max bet to qualify for a progressive or all line pays. Others had “ante bets” that you would add on to activate an additional feature, or an improved bonus odds or bonus payouts.

These would always be pretty clearly defined, so players could decide if this game was for them, and whether they wanted to play at that additional level.

Nowadays, things are getting a bit more complicated. First, they took away the ability to choose your lines. The bets were laid out as just a set of choices, which, OK, that’s not necessarily a huge impact, but for those who wanted more granular control, it forced a certain minimum bet since you had to play all lines.

Now, bets differ in more subtle ways. One of the trends is uneven bet jumps. Instead of the second button being 2x your bet for 2x the line pays, now it’s not quite.

Some Aristocrat games go from a 75 cent bet on level 1 to a $1.60 bet on level 2 (vs. the expected $1.50). A 5x bet will be $5 instead of $3.75.

Where’s the extra money going? More and better features. The expected payback over time is the same, but now more emphasis goes towards bonuses. So you’re betting more every spin, hoping to get to a bonus to recover that extra investment.

Before, you’d choose – many games had a toggle where you could activate or deactivate it on top of your base bet. Now, it’s baked right in, just like the line hits.

This pushes up the max bet of machines, which is important in part because some players show an interest in it, and as multi-denomination machines proliferate, machines increasingly are tasked to have a wider array of bets than before.

Some manufacturers are looking at this trend to come to the call with more player options. IGT’s Tiger and Dragon caught my eye because they have two sets of bet choices, ranging from 75 cents all the way to $30, within a single machine. This, like Mystery of the Lamp before it, adds a couple of options in the $1-$2 range vs. a flat progression of bets that might only offer one option in that range normally.

But most manufacturers are going the other way. 88 cents goes to $1.88 vs. $1.76 on many games now. The distance between bets goes up, all while the push towards more bonus-centric games becomes normal. No bonus, no bueno.

Of course, minimum bets are also quickly racing upward too – $1 is becoming the floor on a growing number of machines, like Huff N’ Even More Puff. Players who go to the casino with $100 for the day can take solace that new Link games continue to have a 50 cent option, but other game formats seem to be abandoning the sub-$1 set in increasing numbers.

Slots are getting more flexible and complex – this feels like an opportunity, one that at least IGT has their eye on. Online slots have a lot more betting options with more granularity. Light & Wonder toyed with a toggle to change the line bet, but it was still rigid line bet steps. Hopefully this is a topic manufacturers will continue to consider and review as the casino floor changes.

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