Missouri casinos -- lifting loss limits may burn players

Nov 11, 2008 5:05 PM

Staff & Wire Reports |

In Missouri, last week’s vote to lift casino loss-limits was welcome news for casino operators, but could end up costing slot players because the state’s machines are the tightest in the Midwest.

Welcoming the change were the state’s 12 casino operators, which no longer will enforce a $500-in-two-hours loss limit.

The change "enables us to compete on a level playing field," said Mark Bradley, spokesman for Pinnacle Entertainment, which owns two Missouri casinos with a third under construction.

But for slot players the field might be a little too level as Missouri slots are the stingiest among five Midwestern states.

According to the Gaming Industry Observer’s new monthly Midwest Slot Report, Missouri’s collective "hold" percentage of 8.82 percent on slots is worse for players than in five other states. It’s also nearly one percentage point higher than the regional average of 7.87 percent.

Here are the hold percentages for slots in the region:

• Colorado: 6.67 percent

• Mississippi: 7.16 percent

• Illinois: 7.46 percent

• Indiana: 8.55 percent

• Iowa: 8.57 percent

The average hold percentage for slots in Nevada over the past 12 months was 6.15 percent; slots on the Las Vegas Strip are significantly tighter at 6.96 percent.

The hold percentage is the amount won by the casino as a percentage of total wagers.

Missouri casinos are expecting to rake in an additional $400 million to $500 million per year, according to estimates from the Missouri auditor’s office.

The state’s casino industry could use the boost. Last year, Missouri was the only state in the region to not record an increase in gaming revenue.