Do Casinos Put Better Paying Machines By the Door?

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Brian Christopher standing outside the BCSlots at Plaza area in Las Vegas

A player recently wrote in with a question high on the mind of many, as we get this question periodically:

I was reading slot machine winning, articles, etc. It said, in Vegas that the casinos tend to put more winning slots close to casino entrances where people can hear wins and make them come in. Is this true?


This isn’t true. And if you think about the make-up of, say, the Las Vegas Strip, it probably wouldn’t serve much of a purpose.

The design of many Vegas strip casinos put the slots away from the foot traffic walking by casinos. There are certainly exceptions – Harrah’s and Flamingo have casino floors very close to the sidewalk – but most of the casino floors are set pretty far back from the sidewalk.

Downtown casinos are set up a bit differently, with some that have casinos facing against the Fremont Street Experience but even there half of them are not setup in this way so it would fall short as a strategy as well. And for the half that are set up with casinos facing the experience, things like automatic doors and the outdoor entertainment make it impossible to know what’s happening inside without actually walking in.

So the biggest benefit to this theory is really lost because it’s going to be very difficult to pull people in when the slots are far from the passersby, enough so that you won’t know what’s going on without walking inside, which at that point you’ve made a conscious decision to visit the casino floor anyway.

Most players walking into a casino are there to play, so there’s not a real need to have machines paying better by the doors. Instead they may choose to place themes that players want to play in high volume areas, to get them sitting down and playing right away. 

The inverse is also sometimes true; casinos may bury the popular games deeper into a casino floor or in a traditionally less popular section to get you to walk through a full casino floor to get there. Here, the floor design philosophies can diverge.

The idea of higher paying slots by the door and some other variations of placing looser slots in key places seems to come from a book written awhile ago with some ideas from a floor director who loved to play around with these sorts of concepts. Nowadays this sort of hunch-driven concepts are very much an exception, not the rule.

Most casinos are owned by corporations that own multiple casinos, and their strategy is often instead to have slots pay right around what they want their floors to pay, and for consistency from machine to machine and property to property.

While at G2E we had someone in the know about a bigger company’s slot payouts who noted that if you visit a property, whether in Vegas or closer to home, they want there to be consistency to the feel, so the payouts are going to be consistent across a denomination on the casino floor, and certainly by game.

So no, you won’t do any better by playing games near the entrance. But there are ways to improve your overall payback over time, such as by playing higher denomination games and ensuring you’re playing games at a level that unlocks all pays.

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