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We Owe It to Slot Players2 August 2007
There are some table-game players who are disdainful of slot players. After all, there is no chance to win at the slot machines in the long run - unless you are one of the truly lucky ones to hit a mega-jackpot - and most video poker players are losers too. Table game players sniff at the high edges slot players face and the uncanny speeds at which they play.
That combination, edge and speed, will cause slot players to lose quite a bit more than the typical table-game player. I have written before about how $1 slot players are more valuable to the casino than $100 blackjack players and $100 baccarat players. Speed and edge put the slot players in a difficult position in terms of long range wins.
So those snooty table-game players frown when talking about slot players. "How foolish they are," the table-game player snorts. "How awful to play against such high house edges at such speeds." Sniff, sniff, sniff.
Well, I am a table-game player who loves slot players. The other day in Tunica, Mississippi, I saw hundreds of slot players in the casino mid-week and they were furiously playing away. In Atlantic City, and the northeast in general, slot players make up almost 80 percent of all players. Nationally slot players are about 75 percent of all players. Slot players dominate Vegas; they dominate the Midwest; they dominate Canada - they dominate Indian casinos and they are starting to get a hold on racetracks too.
Table game players can sniff, snort, chortle and lament the slot players' lot in gambling life but if it weren't for slot players there would be no table games in the rest of the country because casino gambling would never have spread from border to border and across the borders too. Slot play is the economic engine of the casino industry and accounts for the overwhelming profit the industry makes.
We owe slot players a debt of gratitude and a big "thank you" because they make it possible for me to go all over the country and play my favorite table games. Slot machines are responsible for the incredible growth of the casino industry throughout the country.
According to the Harrah's survey for 2004 ("About Us"), fully 45 percent of all slot players play 25-cents to 50-cents machines. These machines will have between a 90 and 95 percent payback on average (meaning a 10 to 5 percent house edge). A fast slot player could put through $540 per hour on a quarter machine, playing three coins. A 10 percent house edge will result in an expected loss of $54 per hour. A $25 blackjack player using the traditional basic strategy would have an expected loss of between $8 and $10 per hour, depending on how many hands were played. A $100 baccarat player, playing 40 hands per hour at the high roller version of the game, can expect to lose about $50 per hour - if he doesn't make the tie bet.
There are not very many $25 blackjack and $100 baccarat players in America but there are approximately 19 million 25-cents to 50-cents slot players.
According to the Harrah's survey, 9 percent of the slot players play dollar machines. A dollar player can put through $2,160 playing three coins. His expected loss per hour would be approximately $173 if we postulate an 8 percent house edge - which is not uncommon on these machines - and $108 per hour if we postulate a 5 percent house edge.
The fact that slots are the Kings and Queens of casino gaming is no secret to the casino industry, of course. Go to any major casino technical show such as G2E in Las Vegas and the floor space is overwhelmingly dedicated to new slot machines. While casino executives know that slot machines are their bread and butter (or steak and eggs), these executives also know that many slot players have an "unhappy marriage" with slot machines and desire to change machines after awhile or even frequently. This makes sense because most slot players lose most times on the machines and they reason, incorrectly, that if they change machines they will change their fortune - or make a fortune, which is the dream of most slot players.
So each year, the slot manufacturers create new and brilliant machines to keep the slot players coming back for more and the moneymaking casino gears maintain their full oil. There's nothing wrong in that. The job of business is to maintain and preferably increase business and satisfying the wanderlusts of slot players is a necessity if they want these slot players to continue to play.
A truly interesting statistic in the Harrah's survey, however, concerns the slot and table-game play predilections of different age groups.
In the 66 and above age group, 79 percent play slot machines, while only 8 percent play table games. In the 51 to 65 age group, 77 percent play slot machines, whereas 11 percent play table games. In the 36 to 50 category, 73 percent play slot machines while 15 percent play table games. In the 21 to 35 grouping, 69 percent play slot machines and 18 percent play table games. There's a 33 percent increase in craps play in this youngest group - which might mean the continued revitalization of that game.
There may be controversy at Harvard about the differences between men and women, but there is no controversy in casino gambling circles about such. Men and women have decidedly different gaming tastes. For example, 81 percent of the women are slot players, while just 66 percent of the men play the machines. Men do play the higher denomination machines more so than do women. However, 20 percent of the men play table games, but only 8 percent of women prefer the tables. Blackjack and craps are heavily favored by men - blackjack has more than twice as many men playing it and craps has an astonishing four times as many male participants. Roulette is equal between both men and women.
Casino gambling is the greatest entertainment activity of approximately 26 percent of the adult population. Almost 54 million adults like to hit those casinos. Of those, about 41 million are hitting the slot machines.
Table game players have a lot to be thankful for - and they're sitting over there at the machines. Go over and wish them the best of fortune because without them there wouldn't be you!
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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