Casinos 'loosen' slot machines to draw in bettors


Oct 26, 2008
With a couple of minor adjustments to a slot machine, casino managers are able to change the mathematical formula that determines the chances of a player hitting a payout. Such changes can create buzz among slot machine aficionados and, the casinos hope, help fill seats on gambling floors.
“We always monitor payout percentages to ensure that we stay competitive in the market,” said Bobby Soper, president of Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates Mohegan Sun. “We obviously look at what competitors are doing.”
In the four-month period after the opening of the first slots parlor in Massachusetts in late June, rival casino operators in Connecticut and Rhode Island pushed up their payout percentages, according to a Globe analysis of data published by state agencies and confirmed by industry representatives and regulators.
At Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, the average payout percentage was 91.98 for the period between July 1 and Oct. 31, the highest in almost 20 years; at Twin River in Rhode Island, it was 91.87, the highest in 11 years; and at Mohegan Sun, it was 91.79, the highest since 2010, according to the data.
In the short period since it opened, Plainridge Park Casino, the first casino in Massachusetts, has raised its payout percentage by an even greater amount, from 90.07 points in July to 91.43 points in October, according to data published by the state Gaming Commission on its website.
Even small changes in payout percentages can have an enormous effect on a casino’s bottom line because of the very large amounts of money typically bet at slot machines.
Plainridge increased its payout percentage by almost 1.5 points, which seems like a minor adjustment. But it represents a monthly shift of about $2.25 million from casino revenues into player winnings, based on Plainridge’s current revenue levels
New England casino operators battling for customers amid intensifying competition are substantially increasing the number of jackpots at their slot machines in the hope of attracting and keeping more patrons

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