Casinos are often in clusters providing variety

Nov 27, 2012 3:00 AM

I always want to play the games at a casino that offer the best returns but there are times when that’s not the case.

Casinos are often built in clusters so when you’re in the mood to visit, there is often a variety to choose from in the immediate area. That’s great because there’s not one perfect casino anywhere. Some casinos may have a great selection of restaurants, bars, activities or gambling but few have everything. Some of the best dining at a casino may come with the worst gambling returns in the area.

If you’re a destination traveler, meaning you prefer to do everything at one property rather than move around, then you may have to forgo the best meal or gambling returns in a given evening.

Sometimes the goal for visiting a certain casino may be more to have a great dinner than it is to gamble with the best returns. Does it make sense to get up and head over to a new casino? It depends.

The quest for knowing where to find the best returns for your gambling dollar is always a smart search, but depending on your bankroll it may be a poor use of time and/or money. Let me explain.

In Las Vegas you may be a slot machine player looking to splurge on a fabulous steak dinner somewhere on the Las Vegas Strip. The smart gambler knows the best paying slot machines are located off the Strip.

Now what? If the player has a $100 bankroll for the night (outside of the steak dinner) it may behoove them to stay and play on the Strip at the casino where they are having dinner. Generally, slot machine returns off the Strip will be about 3% to 5% better. In the case of the $100 bankroll there is about a $3 to $5 difference.

If you have a car and drive to another casino you’ll spend a few minutes travelling and a dollar or two for gas, valet, etc. This will eat into that, theoretical, $3 to $5 advantage gained by playing the better machine. If you are sharing a cab with some friends you’ll probably eat away all of the advantage you’re gaining from playing the off-Strip slot machine with the better return.

When all is said and done, making the trip to play the slot machine with the better return is negligible at best for the low roller. The case is different if you’re playing with a bankroll of several hundred or thousands of dollars. That is where the small percentage of returns can really be felt.

All of this is not to say you shouldn’t know where to find the best games. However, it’s not always the best idea to play only the games with the best returns. It may not matter financially, depending on the reason for your trip to a casino and goals for the night.

Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gambling and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Follow Marc on twitter @eastcoastgamblr. Check out his blog at www.AC2LV.com Contact Marc at [email protected].

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