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Are slot players being metaphorically killed?30 September 2010
In one year this 25-cent Tunica player lost $8,000. Her yearly income was $32,000.
"I can't afford these losses," she told me. "I am quitting. It's just too much. I went to the casinos every week with my friends. It was a lot of fun until I realized I couldn't afford this form of entertainment. Now I'll go to the movies instead."
Go up and down the Las Vegas Strip watching the free outdoor shows and if you listen carefully with your inner ear you'll hear the constant sound of the innumerable slots being played by countless players.
Go to the local casinos in Vegas; go downtown too and hear those machines, even with their false sounds of coins dropping into faux trays. Go to Atlantic City up and down that Boardwalk, and up and down those slot aisles that fill every single casino by the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby bays. Go to Tunica, Biloxi, the Midwest, California and Connecticut, states North and South; go to Canada. Go to many racetracks.
All over this casino gambling empire slot players are pouring their money into those slot machines, which take between 2% and 17% of all the money wagered. Those great big inter-casino progressives offering intensely dreamt-of life-changing wins in the millions and multi-millions tickle the fancy of many slot players and totally tickle the casino treasuries as they hit maybe once every 50,000,000 spins on average. Yikes! Does that mean very few people ever win those jackpots? Right, few, fewer and even fewer than that.
But such progressives come in with double-digit house edges, so if you don't hit those monsters your losses will be incredibly large if you play on a regular basis, say weekly or bi-weekly. If you are an average American, making maybe $50,000 a year, can you afford losses in the thousands and maybe tens of thousands with such regular play? My guess is that you can't.
How many devoted slot players are like that woman from Tunica, turning away from their enjoyable pastime because they just can't afford it?
The casinos might not yet be feeling the pinch since for every slot player who walks away from the machines a replacement or two takes his or her place. So everything is still monetarily going up for the casinos despite slot players leaving the game.
But as the population ages and more and more senior citizen baby boomers start to truly dominate the casino landscape, when a slot player who deserts the game is not replaced by another one but merely by a half of one, the casinos will indeed feel the pinch in their pocketbooks.
If our Tunica lady had lost, say, two thousand dollars in a year would that have discouraged her from ever playing again? I think not. She'd probably keep going to the casinos on her regular schedule. If she kept playing steadily then over time the casinos would win far more than $8,000 from her but it would be in small enough increments not to affect her negatively.
Small house edges allow players to feel they have a fighting chance against the casinos, even if those edges will indeed lead to long-term losses. Blackjack players facing a 0.5% house edge played for decades because they had enough winning sessions to make the game seem almost even.
There is no doubt that the slot machines are the casinos' golden goose. If not for those machines, casino gambling would not have spread like wildfire across the United States and Canada. But eventually wildfires destroy that which allows them to burn. Will the casinos burn out enough slot players that suddenly their forest of riches is reduced substantially?
It just might.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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