Is It Worth Bigger Bets To Get a Higher Slot Payback Percentage?

 Is It Worth Bigger Bets To Get a Higher Slot Payback Percentage?

Casinos everywhere put their highest payback percentages on their highest-denomination slot machines. The Mississippi Gaming Commission report for October—the most recent available as I write this—showed that in northern Mississippi on non-progressive machines, payback percentages included 91.1 percent on penny slots, 93.3 percent on nickels, 93.4 percent on quarters and 94.5 percent on dollars.

That’s normal enough. Casinos throughout the United States are willing to pay more to players that they can count on for higher base wagers.

Every year, I get emails from players wondering if they should look at playing higher-denomination games because of those percentage differences. I tell them to look at their risk.

A penny player CAN bet $3 or more, just like a dollar player betting the max on a three-reel game, but a large percentage stick to covering all the paylines at one coin per line.  Even at 20, 25, 40 or 50 lines, the penny player puts a lot less at risk than a dollar player.

At a moderate pace of 500 plays per hour, a penny player betting 50 cents a spin risks $250. The 91.1 percent return means an average hourly loss of $22.25. The dollar player betting a $3 max risks $1,500. A higher return, at 94.5 percent, still leaves a much larger hourly loss of $82.50. Even one-coin play on dollar games leaves a higher hourly loss than on penny games. Dividing the three-coin figure by three would put it at $27.50, but the actual average loss would be somewhat higher because less-than-max wagers on most three-reel games bring lower payback percentages.

Dollar players get a higher payback percentage and a better shot at a big jackpot than penny players, but it’s at the cost of higher average losses. Let the player beware.

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