Do Casinos Have to Pay Out a Certain Percentage?

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Casino sign outside Golden Gate on Fremont Street

Are casinos obligated to pay a certain percentage? Here’s a question regarding the topic:

I don’t know if this is true or not. I’ve heard that casinos have to pay out a certain percentage each month. I had heard this years ago and just remembered it while I was watching BC play online. I want to say that it’s not true, but I have no idea.

Phil B.

Timeframes aren’t usually set so rigidly as per month, but per machine and casino-wide percentage minimums are often the case in many (but not all) states.

Regulations vary by state. Nevada has regulations that require slots to pay at least 75 percent. New Jersey the minimum is 83 percent. In Maryland, the floor is 87 percent on any one machine, and a range of 90 to 95 percent for the casino as a whole.

Slot manufacturers tend nowadays to make games that pay 85 percent and above. So those low minimums in Nevada and New Jersey generally aren’t often approached to begin with because the games aren’t built that way.

But generally this is a calculation over a longer period of time. Casinos will have hundreds or thousands of machines, and each will pay closer and closer to their intended amount as the number of spins on it increases, evening out the ups and downs that can happen in the short term.

So the regulations don’t often get so granular to say it has to be within a month. A game that goes wildly outside the expected range may get a closer look, but usually it’ll fall in line over time, and if a jurisdiction’s rules are more rigid, some games that are ultra volatile may not even be approved there to ensure they don’t fall outside the rules for that location.

As such, while casinos need to meet certain minimums, in most cases they clear the bar with ease, and you won’t see a machine suddenly spitting out more money (or holding back more money) to get there – the games will pay back the intended amount over time.

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