Payback percentage information on a particular slot machine is one of those things physical casinos don’t tend to like to divulge, except in certain marketing situations, such as the example in the image above, where it said so directly on the game. So you won’t be able to go into the settings of the slot and see that information as a matter of transparency.
Online casinos are a different matter altogether – for many games, you can go into the information screens and it will show the expected RTP, or return to player, over time, which will tell you precisely what a game is designed to offer over the long term at that online casino. You can compare and contrast to decide which casino is right for you.
It’s a shame you don’t have this information in physical casinos. But there are ways that you can get a general idea for this. It’s easier for some markets and casinos than others, but each of these methods will give you some information.
Publicly Reported Payback Information
Commercial casinos generally report some payback information to the government, which then shares that data with the public. In some markets, like Connecticut, you get per casino information per denomination.
So, for instance, you can learn that Mohegan Sun in that state has had particularly high payback on $10 denomination machines and has for years.
What it won’t tell you is what specific machine is set to what, but the general rule is that casinos have a target payback percentage for each denomination, and will set machines close to that number, whether a bit above or below, to hit the mark.
In other markets, like Nevada, it averages together all the casinos in a region, so you won’t know if one casino pays back better than another just by looking at the data. But we previously shared the advice of one industry expert, who said looking at a casino’s video poker pay table will likely hint at whether the casino you’re at is a looser or tighter payback.
Machine Installations and Moves
Have you ever seen when new machines are being set up at a casino? More often than not you’ll see a piece of paper taped to it with a bunch of settings that the casino will verify when setting up the machine. And more often than not on those papers, you’ll see the payback percentage.
It always surprises me how often casinos leave that information out in plain daylight, but the convenience of their slot techs having the data they need when they need it outstrips the handful of nosy people (like us) that check those. That will be one of the most concrete times you’ll have a look at what that casino is doing with payback on a given machine.
In our article on finding loose slot machines, we spoke about how casino marketing will sometimes indicate a way to find the answer. El Cortez, for instance, routinely posts on its website that its slots are a certain percentage looser than the strip.
But since the strip payback data is publicly available, you can do the math and get an idea for what El Cortez’s slots will pay.
In other cases casinos will put signs on machines touting a specific high payback as an encouragement to play. If it specifically says “X% payback” on a machine or bank, you can count on that.
But if it says “Up to X% payback” on a bank, that means that not all the machines, probably only likely one, offer that payback, with the rest offering less. And as a player we probably won’t know which one that is.
While you can’t get the payback information as easily as you can with online slots, there are ways to get a sense of what the expected payback will be, and on occasion know the exact payback setting of a given machine.
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