The 'reel' truth about monthly slot reports

2014-01-16T00:00:00Z The 'reel' truth about monthly slot reportsJohn G. Brokopp
January 16, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The only information that is revealed about slot machines is derived from the monthly reports published by state gaming commissions.

The information, which is available online for all to see, is in the form of raw financial statistics which detail how much money was wagered, how much was distributed to players in the form of winnings, and how much was retained by the properties in the form of adjusted gross receipts.

There really is very little slot players can learn from the information, but it’s all we have to go by.

The brief windows of opportunity during which any one individual plays a slot machine are dwarfed by the playing time a machine gets by players as a collective group during a one month period.

It is over the long haul of 12 months that individual unit payback percentages are fully established. More often than not, they are right on target with the figure at which the computer program was set, which makes mathematical probability the true rulers of slot machine play.

Choosing one casino over another based strictly upon a fraction of a percentage difference in slot machine payout is futile. Anything can happen during the brief period of time you play the slots on a particular visit.

Having established these facts, let’s take look at some of the figures contained in the recently released data for November 2013 in the State of Illinois.

Here are the “hold” percentages (casino win) for three of the most popular denominations at properties in the greater Chicago area:

Hollywood Joliet: Penny – 12.51%; Quarter – 5.43%; Dollar – 5.19%. Harrah’s Joliet: Penny – 12.57%; Quarter – 5.67%; Dollar – 5.47%. Rivers: Penny – 13.67%; Quarter – 6.76%; Dollar – 8.37%. Hollywood Aurora: Penny – 12.72%; Quarter – 6.20%; Dollar – 6.56%. Grand Victoria: Penny – 12.63%; Quarter – 5.87%; Dollar – 6.39%.

At casinos in Illinois statewide, the 5,303 penny units in place at the 10 properties had a hold percentage of 12.19% or $37.8 million. The 1,663 quarter games had a hold percentage of 5.93% or $13.4 million. The 1,769 dollar slots had a hold percentage of 6.68% or $21.7 million.

All told during the month of November, $1.1 billion was wagered on slots in Illinois casinos which derived adjusted gross receipts of $101 million from them.

So, what can we learn from all of this?

The report punctuates the fact that penny games are by far the most popular slots and also the biggest money makers for the casinos. The hold percentage on penny games is consistently more than double what it is on the other denominations.

Sure, players as a collective group pulled their share of winnings from the penny games but it came at a price much higher than it was for quarter and dollar players.

Rivers maintained the highest hold percentages on its games than the other properties. The most significant example was the casino’s dollar games, which came in at 1.69% higher than the statewide average and 3.18% to 1.81% higher than the four other properties.

Next week we’ll take a look at the figures from Indiana.


BLUE CHIP: Casino goers who sign up for a new B Connected membership in January will receive $5.00 off the price of a buffet plus 5-times slot points. Those who earn 1,000 base points on their new card the day of sign up will be awarded a 12-pack of Mountain Dew or Diet Dew Code Red. Please visit the B Connected Club for complete details or log on to

FOUR WINDS: Don’t miss out on the $7,500 monthly Blackjack Tournament the first Tuesday of every month. The buy-in is $60. There is no entry fee and all buy-ins go to the prize pool. Based on a full tournament, the top finishers will share more than $7,500 in cash. Registration starts at 5:00 p.m. (EST) on tournament days. Seats are limited. Visit the Blackjack Pit at the casino for complete details.

MAJESTIC STAR: Each Thursday in January it’s the “Break the Bank Hotseat” promotion 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. aboard Majestic Star I in the promotional area. Two winners will be picked every half hour to select a safety deposit box filled with Promo Cash. At 9:00 p.m. one winner will select a safety deposit box for a chance to win $1,000 in Promo Cash. Visit the player’s club booth for full details.

RIVERS: You can Spin to Win $1 million every Monday and Saturday in January. Drawings are held each promotion day at 2:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 8:00 p.m. Earn entries the day of the promotion to be eligible for each of the drawings. Players receive one entry for every 25 points they earn with slot machine play. One winner will be selected at each drawing to Spin to Win for $1 million. Please visit the Rush player’s booth for complete details.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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