The slot department on the casino floor can be a confusing place. Hundreds of different machines greet the player. Bright colors, mindless electronic tunes and flashing lights seem to assault the senses. Different pay tables and payoff percentages; straight payoffs or progressive slot systems; win-a-car prizes or take the money and run; the choices are tremendous. Just making a decision about which machine to play often seems to be daunting.
Can you win playing a slot machine?
Yes. Slot machines are set to pay back a certain percentage. In New Jersey, by law, slot machines must pay back 83 percent of the money played. In Nevada, it’s 75 percent. Most major properties in each jurisdiction, however, pay back much more than that.
But even at 75 percent, a player can hit a lucky streak and go home a winner. Sure, most players may not win anything, but there are plenty who do win if they know the secret. Somebody’s got to get lucky. Why can’t it be you?
The key to beating the slot machines is to quit while you’re ahead. Money management is sometimes an overused term in the gamblers’ world, but it applies here. Set a reasonable win goal. If you have a budget of $100, don’t try to double your money. The chance of that happening is remote. Quit when you get $25 ahead. Go enjoy a show. Get a meal. Or simply watch the other players. And when you get home, you can say you beat the casino.
Most progressive slot systems (Megabucks, Quartermania, Pokermania) pay out their jackpots over a 20-year period. What happens if the casino goes out of business during that time? What are the payout percentages for these systems?
In the case of the Megabucks, Quartermania, Fabulous 50s, High Rollers and other multi-casino linked slot systems, the manufacturer and supplier of these ligaz888 systems, International Game Technology, maintains a trust system. Let’s say a player hits a $1 million jackpot. IGT and the system’s participating casinos will deposit an amount of money in a bank account that will spin off $1 million over a 20-year period. The amount of money they deposit depends upon the prevailing interest rate, but the player is guaranteed to receive all $1 million over the course of the 20 years. Even if all the casinos and IGT went bankrupt during that period (not a very likely possibility), the jackpot winner will still receive the prize.
The participating casinos in a linked-slot system get together to decide on the payoff percentage. In Nevada, for instance, the payoff percentage for Megabucks in March 1994 (the latest available data) was 87.8 percent. When the jackpot is hit, the percentage will soar to the upper 90s or more. But averaged out for the entire year, Megabucks pays less than the typical $1 machine (89.4 percent vs. 95.7 percent). Generally, the same is true of all the progressive linked systems.
Some linked systems, by the way, pay the entire jackpot all at once. Bally’s Bucks, in Atlantic City, and Fastest Cash, at the Circus Circus properties in Nevada, are just a couple of examples.
Why do some states require that a machine be shut down for a period after it hits a big jackpot?
Today’s slot machines are electro-mechanical wonders, with safeguards built into them to prevent tampering. But slot cheats are only one step behind the latest technology, so when large (or even smaller, hand-paid) jackpots are hit, the casino wants to examine the machine to make certain the jackpot was hit honestly, and not through some type of malfunction or player tampering. So not only do the regulatory agencies generally require it, but the casino also wants to verify the jackpot to protect itself.