Can You Discern Payback Differences Between California and Vegas?

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Brian Christopher thinking

Sometimes we as players feel like we’re getting a better gamble in one place than another. Are we able to sense these things?

Are the California Indian casinos slots looser or tighter than machines in Vegas? I seem to win easier at the Indian casinos than when I go to Vegas.

Steve M.

Over the years we’ve seen players who are absolutely fearful of California casinos because they have no required minimum payouts and aren’t required to share their payback data either. As a result, there are players who think they pay worse than Vegas. We don’t agree.

The tourist areas of Las Vegas, whether the strip or downtown, have such a baked in audience that they don’t really have to try when it comes to paybacks. There will be variation across properties but as an average, the publicly reported data shows pretty high casino hold percentages, which means lower payouts for the players, particularly on lower denomination slots.

Many of the casinos are also managed by larger corporations, which can have an impact on the payback philosophy.

Meanwhile, the casinos in California are operated more like locals casinos or regional destinations, and while slot payouts aren’t public, you can see other aspects of their payout philosophy: 3:2 Blackjack vs. 6:5, higher Video Poker pay tables, 00 Roulette vs. 000 Roulette, and so on. Many are operated internally vs. by big corporations as well (although there’s certainly examples of those in California that are tied to the larger chains).

While we don’t have precise metrics, it’s fair to presume these casinos are paying you a bit better, because the goals and business philosophy are simply different. But as we indicated above, it doesn’t hurt to look at what they do publicize for payouts, and figure their looseness or tightness of payouts there will be a reflection of how they manage their entire casino floor.

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