Why Slots Rule the Nation’s Casinos

There are only two states in the Union where there isn’t some form of gambling, those being Utah and Hawaii. The rest of the states have some form of gambling, from state lotteries, to horse racing, to video terminals and, finally, to full-fledged casino gambling with all your favorite games – blackjack, craps, roulette, Three-Card Poker, Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, among others, and of course the seemingly countless rows of slot and video poker machines.

The country has exploded into the gaming capital of the planet with legal gambling recording mind boggling profits just about everywhere.

But let’s not fool ourselves. If it weren’t for slot machines, there would be no unbelievable rise in casino gambling across this country. Since slot machines account for between 65 percent and 90 percent of casino revenues, we can see quite clearly that if you remove slot machines from the mix there would be, frankly, no mix to speak of.

Unquestionably, slots have propelled the phenomenal growth of casino gambling across the country. Without slots casinos would probably just be in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, venues large enough to be vacation venues.

I can visualize casinos without table games (indeed in New York we have race tracks with slot machines and no table games) but I cannot conceive of casinos without slot machines. I doubt any casino company can either.

So why have slot machines become the dominant force in casino gambling with approximately 81 percent of female casino gamblers playing them and about 66 percent of male casino gamblers playing them too, as the Harrah’s 2005 survey on casino gamblers discovered.

In the past it was thought that slot machines were just for women who had nothing better to do while their male spouses or companions played the elite table games. Slots were for players, male and female, who were too stupid to understand table games. Obviously, unless America has suddenly become a country composed of totally denigrated citizens with low IQ’s, categorizing slot players into the intellectual realm of vegetables no longer holds water. Casinos know this, although many gambling writers still don’t seem to get it.

Some of the smartest people in the casinos play the slot machines. Walk up and down the slot aisles and it is not the season of the dope, although it is the season of the hope.

Maybe that is why slot play, along with the dramatic increase in lottery play, has become so widespread. Table games only give you a moderate degree of hope – after all the best you can do at the traditional table games such as blackjack is a $3 to $2 payout for a natural; at craps, a $30 to $1 payout on a 2 or 12 and at roulette a $35 to $1 payout on a straight-up hit. These are nice hits but they are not super-sized ones. To win a fortune at any table game just isn’t in the cards, dice or wheel for a $5, $10, $25, $50 or $100 player.

Slot machines and their distant cousin the lottery give you the chance to win big for what seems a rather small initial investment. You can play three dollars and maybe win millions on those big progressives – just like that! On stand-alone machines that are not progressives, you can still win thousands to one when the top jackpot hits. A small layout = a big payout; that’s the mindset, and it is the mindset across the country.

The fact that slot players actually lose more money per dollar wagered is irrelevant to them. The fact that slot machines have the biggest house edges also doesn’t matter either. Slot players, at least most of them, know all this and choose to ignore it. The big hit, which is always possible on the next decision or the one after that, conjures life-changing dreams and these dreams along make the machines worth playing.

Pictures of giant jackpot winners festoon gaming magazines such as this one and why not? Those big wins are energizing to the slot player. That’s why they play after all. I once went to the bathroom in Atlantic City at the Trop World (now Tropicana) and there were pictures over the urinals of happy, winning slot players holding gigantic checks worth hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars.

No one has life-changing blackjack dreams. In the traditional table games, any win is a good win. In slots, only BIG wins are good wins and while any win is welcomed, they aren’t insulin producing events for the slot player as such wins would be for table-game players.

If you visit casinos across the nation as I do, talking to slot players these truths are well known. Slot players are playing for something other than a win tonight. They are playing for the win of a lifetime.

[Read Slot Conquest: How to Beat the Slot Machines. Available from Amazon.com, kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.]

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