Do Casinos Set Higher Paybacks in Higher Traffic Areas?

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Are busier areas of the casino floor busier because the machines pay better? That’s the general angle of today’s question:

Do casinos set higher RTP ratios on machines that are in higher traffic areas to pull people in?

Kim D.

By the nature of their being higher traffic locations, they probably don’t set machines there to higher paybacks. Higher traffic locations can be so for a variety of reasons – near popular attractions or parts of the property (such as a restaurant or a parking garage entrance), set up as a zone with games that people want to play, an area with high visibility that players can see in the distance, etc.

The layout of a casino floor is something that evolves on purpose – some casinos put games people want to play in tougher to reach areas because they know players will look for it. Others will put the games people want to play front and center because it ensures they’ll find it. 

Casinos will do experiments to see what works better and continue to learn and evolve from these experiments. There is a constant give and take to find the right balance of machines in the right locations to maximize the casino’s ability to generate revenue off the slots.

These evolutions have picked up steam in the past few years, as new learnings that came out of casino closures and reopenings during the pandemic led to some discoveries. Many casinos shut off half their machines for social distancing when they first reopened, but their revenue didn’t drop 50 percent.

Casinos have been more aggressively resetting their floors to give players more space, having less machines overall but more that players want to play, instead of rows of old slots that sit there and get played more rarely.

The before and after of many casino floors is quite dramatic, and those sorts of experiments are more in charge of helping to shift where players are than putting better paying machines in busier areas. Generally, the busier areas are already busy for other reasons, so they don’t need to pay more than anywhere else to pump up that area.

You might see instead casinos touting higher payback options in quieter parts of the floor, with older machines that may be getting less player love, as a way to goose those numbers. It certainly was a strategy employed more in an earlier era, but some casinos still use it today. 

We’ve seen in at least one situation a casino offering double points in a nook that’s a bit out of the way from the rest of the casino floor, as a way to get players to come over there and play. In another, a casino put a players card bonus game on certain machines in a less busy part of the casino to encourage more play there. Often the incentivizing is to get people to less busy parts of the floor, not the other way around. Those incentive types can include payback, such as when a machine is signed to guarantee a payback percentage that’s higher than normally expected.

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