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Odds and Edges5 January 2006
It's that time of year again, when our thoughts turn towards holiday giving and treats for those we love. And the people we love tend to love the very activities that we love. That is, they love to go to casinos! And they love information about their favorite pastime - gambling in the casinos.
According to the latest gambling census figures compiled by Harrah's, there are 1.5 million casino gamblers in Tennessee and Mississippi. More than one-fourth of the adult population of these two states will go to the casinos, usually Tunica or Gulfport. However, there are 51.1 million casino gamblers in the entire United States so our locale makes up just 3 percent of the nation's total.
The Harrah's survey, A Night in the Life of a Casino Gambler, reveals just what the tastes and predilections of our fellow gamblers are. Of course, eating comes first in the survey because a sated gambler is a satisfied gambler. Fully 57 percent of us prefer the buffet as our dining choice; while 16 percent prefer steakhouses, 10 percent go for seafood, and 9 percent prefer eating in 24-hour cafes. Most buffet eaters will make two or three trips to the buffet lines to "sample" the cuisine.
Half the people who stay at casino-hotels will wake up between 7AM and 8AM but 4 percent never go to bed. Fifty-three percent of us like to stay in high hotel rooms and 9 percent of us like it stay near the pools. The three favored non-gambling activities are shows (28 percent), dining (27 percent) and people-watching (23 percent). The number one favorite song that captures the casino experience was Memphis's own Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" (34 percent) followed by Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" and Cool and the Gang's "Celebrate," each with 24 percent.
It's no secret that the machines were the favorite form of gambling as a staggering 74 percent of casino gamblers, or approximately 37.8 million, played them. Over half the machine players prefer 25- to 50-cent machines, while 9 percent play one to four dollars a spin, but only 1 percent of the machine lovers go for $5 or more a pop. Thirty-seven percent of the slot players describe themselves as "grazers" who try a variety of machines when they play; 33 percent tend to play one to three favorite machines, and 22 percent stay put on one single machine.
The favorite symbols of the slot players are cherries (37 percent), sevens (32 percent) and bars (19 percent). Only 4 percent of slot players, or 1.5 million, have won jackpots over $5,000, while 18 percent, or 6.8 million, have won jackpots of between $1,000 and $5,000; 23 percent, or 8.7 million, have won between $500 and $999. Favorite card suits are, in order, hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs.
Table-game players make up 17 percent of the casino population (approximately 8.7 million players), with 9 percent playing blackjack (4.6 million), 2 percent playing craps (1 million), 2 percent playing roulette (1 million), and 4 percent playing other games (2 million).
There are distinct gender differences in our casino play as 81 percent of the women and only 67 percent of the men play machines, while 25 percent of the men and only 13 percent of the women play the tables. Women tend to gamble more than do men as well. Forty-six percent of casino gamblers are men, while fully 54 percent are women.
Now, let's take a closer look at Tunica, since this is where we play. The Mississippi Gaming Commission compiles information about the casinos on a monthly basis, with Tunica called the North River Region, which includes Lula. Although they haven't broken down how many people play the machines as opposed to the table games, it's a safe bet to assume that about 80 percent of the market is composed of machine players and about 20 percent table-game players.
Slot players will be happy to know that Tunica slot machines are among the highest paying in the country, rivaling those in Las Vegas. Five-cent machines return an average of 91 percent. Quarter machines are returning an average of 93 percent; 50-cent machines are returning an average of 94 percent; $1 machines are returning an average of 95 percent and machines at or above $5 are returning an average of 97 percent. Of course, as we discovered when we were compiling the "inside" information on slot machines for Frank's Gamblers Jamboree last month, there are 5-cent machines returning 97 and 98 percent; quarter machines returning 96-98 percent; 50 cent machines also returning 96-98 percent; one dollar machines returning 98.5 percent and even some $5 machines returning 99 percent.
Since we are not at liberty to disclose which machines are which, suffice it to say, look for carousels that prominently advertise their paybacks as opposed to those machines where you have to guess. Guessing might get you onto a machine that is paying back substantially above the market average but it also might get you playing a machine that is substantially below than the market average. Caveat emptor applies in this situation.
The most popular table games in Tunica are blackjack, craps, three-card poker, and roulette in that order. The casino hold (profit) is highest on Caribbean Stud (32.73 percent) and lowest on mini-baccarat (12 percent).Now, if you are looking to give your favorite casino player, or yourself, a treat this holiday season I have two new books out that would make great presents. If you enjoy reading about players who have turned the tables on the casinos, some of them making millions of dollars, then get The Craps Underground: The Inside Story of How Dice Controllers are Winning Millions from the Casinos! It doesn't matter if you like or even know how to play craps, this is the true story of the great players and their adventures and will be enjoyed by everyone who gambles in the casinos. The Craps Underground is a hardcover book that retails for $24.95.
If you are looking for great strategies that don't take months to learn in order to cut the house edge and if you are looking for terrific true-stories of the big winners and losers in the casinos, then my Casino Gambling: Play Like a Pro in 10-Minutes or Less, a quality paperback book ($14.95), would be a treat. It covers most of the popular games in the casino and has stories about the great characters in casino gambling and the greatest events.
This is a great time of year to get together with family and friends and, like any and every time of year, it's a great time to head for the Tunica casinos! Happy Holidays!
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 email@example.com.
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