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Slots Payout Percentages

Dear Mark,
Who sets the payout percentages for large progressives like Megabucks? Do they change those percentages on the weekends when it is busier? - Douglas D.

To eat up your latter question first, "do casinos take a screwdriver to their slots on the weekends to tighten them up?", the answer is no. It is not cost-effective for the casino to continually alter the payouts on their machines. To alter the percentage return in their favor, the casino must, by law, make a hardware change. They do this by swapping out an internal component, the ROM portion of the microprocessor chip. ROM, or read only memory, is a chip the slot manufacturer provides the casino that tells the slot machine to pay back so many coins every time BAR BAR BAR appears. Some state gaming commissions won't even allow casinos to switch chips in-house. Besides exchanging chips, Doug, they would also have to physically change the glass payout schedule for each machine.

As to who sets the payout percentages for Megabucks, since the progressive jackpot is paid out by IGT, those payout percentages are set at the factory. Don't ask, Doug. It's a trade secret what those exact percentages are. You won't get any hush-hush tittle-tattle from IGT.

Casinos also have their own proprietary progressive machines, typically with their name and logo on the facing. On their own machines, the casino sets the percentage they want returned to them when placing an order with a slot manufacturer. Once they decide on the payout percentage needed based on the payout range received from the buyer, the makers of the machine program each slot based upon the leasing and/or purchasing agreement. When a casino wants to make a change to those percentages, they usually have to notify the gaming commission and the manufacturer to have those changes made.

Dear Mark,
What is the casino advantage in Multiple Action Blackjack versus regular blackjack? - Greg N.

The casino advantage in blackjack is determined by both the playing rules and the number of decks used. So, Greg, house rules being equal, there isn't any difference in the house edge between Multiple Action Blackjack and traditional blackjack.

Dear Mark,
I just want to say "THANKS" for the brilliant response to the question about wearing Reynolds Wrap to block a pacemaker signal from interfering with an electronic slot machine.

I haven't had such a good laugh in a long time. It was a nice break to my day! The sad thing is the guy (Gurth) who wrote the question was probably being sincere, if that's possible from a total weirdo. I'll keep an eye out at the slots section of the local casino to see if someone is wearing their beanie. - Katie O.

Being a certified screwball myself, it does give me the inside track into the psychology of whack jobs, so answering Gurth's silvery ductile metallic element question was a no-brainer. Gurth over the years has sent me a whole slew of dillies, some kooky, some pretty spooky. Look for those in future columns.

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Gambling Quotes

  • "Life is a gamble, like crossing the road. One day chicken, next day feathers."- Unknown

  • "Having an ATM in a casino is like having a lap-dancer at a Hell's Angels Convention. - McAvoy Layne

  • "Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles."- Peter L. Bernstein

  • Besides lovemaking and singing in the shower, there aren't many human activities where there is a greater difference between a person's self-delusional ability and actual ability than in poker.- Steve Badget

  • "Betting is the only moral thing you can do. It is an intellectual pursuit, as good as The Times crossword. For millions, it is the only uninfluenced democratic decision they take."- Lord Wyatt

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