Casinos vary the slot floor

Jun 19, 2005 9:42 PM

A couple of weeks ago, I had to visit my town’s building department to get a permit to put up a big tent in my backyard for a party we were throwing. While waiting, another resident wanted to pay the permit cost with a credit card. The town employee looked at him and said something to the effect that if they took credit cards the line would be out the door and down the hall.

I couldn’t help but chuckle. It had taken 20 minutes for them to find the application I submitted a few days earlier, and I would eventually write a total of five checks for two payments because they couldn’t decide how much I actually owed.

For each payment they receive, the clerk writes out a manual receipt that takes at least five minutes. Somehow, I couldn’t imagine how using a credit card could actually increase the wait time.

What’s my point? Just because someone is given the power to make the decisions, it doesn’t mean they’ll make the right one, especially for the customer. I’m sure for my building department, accepting credit cards means more training costs and paying the small fee to the credit card company. I doubt the average town resident factored that into the decision to accept credit cards or not.

The casinos are no different. When casinos decide what paytables to use when they fill their casino floors, they don’t ask what is best for their customer. They’re concerned with what is best for them. What is best for a casino is lower paytables. Of course, if it were that simple, all casinos would be filled with lousy paytables.

But casinos can only make money if someone is playing the game. So, the real goal for the casino is to make the paytables as low as possible and to still attract players. So, if players are mesmerized by white tigers, sharks and the glitter of the Strip, and they ignore the paybacks and fill the machines, then the casinos have absolutely no reason to raise the paytables.

If, however, players are able to enjoy the tourist traps and then find the best games in other places, the casinos will be forced to raise the paytables in order to keep the players in their casino.

Many have suggested that the Strip casinos should increase the number of high-paying video poker machines in order to bring in patrons. As a player, I would love to see this. If I were designing a casino floor, I would probably make sure it included some high paying games.

Of course, if it turns out my casino is always full while offering non full-pay machines, I would probably resist the suggestion to offer full-pay machines. Why give something to my customer when my customers seem very happy to begin with?

Over the past few years, finding full-pay machines has become more difficult. Some have proposed that this is because of experts such as myself who have convinced so many players to use expert strategy and this has taken money out of the casinos hands, which in turn has forced them to lower payouts.

While I’m sure there are now more people playing proper strategy than there was 10 or 15 years ago, I don’t consider this to be the major reason why casinos have reduced the number of full-pay machines. I believe they have done so because customers no longer demand them.

Customers are content to play whatever the casinos offer, under a mistaken belief that somehow the casino knows what is best for them. The only way this trend is going to change is if players simply refuse to play the poorer paying machines and seek out and play only those that give the player a fighting chance for a winning session. Just because the casino makes the decision as to what games they will offer, doesn’t mean they have your best interest in mind