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Sizzling slots!

Nov 26, 2002 7:46 AM

   Multi-game, multi-denomination slot machines are hot. They’re so hot, in fact, that players are flocking to them in droves.

   And for their effort, players are being rewarded with some of the highest-paying gaming machines on the casino floor.

   The most recent Nevada gaming revenue report indicates that multi-denomination machines — which include multi-game machines such as IGT’s Game King, as well as multi-hand poker machines such as Triple and Five-Play Poker — return more money to the player than nickel, quarter, fifty-cent and dollar slot machines.

   For the month of September, multi-denomination machines returned 95.5 percent of the handle to players. Nickel machines paid back, 91.9 percent, quarter machines paid 94.2 percent, fifty-cent machines returned 94.9 percent and dollar machines returned 94.9 percent.

   The aggregate of nickel, quarter, fifty-cent and dollar machines returned 94.04 percent, still less than the return on multi-denomination machines.

   The numbers are comparable to August’s results, in which multi-denomination games returned 96.09 percent of the handle to players, while the aggregate of nickel, quarter, fifty-cent and dollar machines paid back 93.41 percent.

   Only $25 and $100 slot machines returned more, 96.64 percent and 97.63 percent, respectively. And $5 slot machines returned virtually the same amount as multi-denomination machines, 95.45 percent.

   Historically, the higher the denomination of the slot machine, the higher the return (and the less the “hold” percentage for the house).

   Experts said there are several factors at work that make multi-denomination machines so attractive to players.

   First, many of these machines include the multi-hand poker games that have become so popular in recent years.

   “The poker games usually include Double Bonus Poker, Bonus Poker and Deuces Wild Poker,” said an insider at a gaming machine manufacturer in Las Vegas. “And these popular games, when played with optimal strategy, return as much as 100 percent to the player.

   “Multiply that effect by playing three, five and ten simultaneous games, and you have a very lucrative situation for the player,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

   Another factor that could come into play, the source said, is the ability to shift from one denomination to another.

   “By being able to switch from nickels to dimes to quarters to dollars and more, players can better control their winning and losing streaks,” he said. “For instance, a player can reduce his bets to dimes, then if he hits, say four aces or other middle-of-the-road jackpot, increase to quarters or dollars, and play conservatively while building his credits.”

   Finally, the fact that many if not most multi-denomination machines are of the “coinless” or ticket-in, ticket-out variety, could have an effect on players’ ability to maintain higher hold percentages.

   “With a ticket-in, ticket-out machine, the player can move from one machine to another, and cash out quicker than with coin-drop machines,” said a slot attendant at a downtown casino. “The freedom to ”˜pull out’ and move on, and the ability to do it several times in a session, gives the player the ability to better control winning and losing streaks.”

   The attendant added that players don’t seem to miss coins. “We cater to plenty of locals who like to be able to play, then move, then cash out at will,” she said. “Players seem to be on the run more and more. The machines help them stick to their busy pace.”