Monday, October 31, 2011

Penny ante? Not these slots

A New Jersey reader emailed to ask about penny slots.

"There are a bunch of new machines that have 50 lines and you must play all of them," he wrote. "To me, these are 50-cent machines and no longer 1-cent because the minimum you can play is 50 cents. I assume that the payback percentages on these new machines are like other 1-cent machines, IOW, pretty low, under 90%."

I told him I'd noticed a similar thing at two Midwestern casinos, except with 2-cent games instead of pennies. The minimum bet was 50 credits, making these dollar-minimum games. And yes, these do have the low, 87-to-90 percent paybacks we see on other penny and 2-cent games.

There is a mitigating factor: The bonus rounds on video slots give us playing time without additional wagers, so we make fewer bets per hour on a video game than on a traditional three-reel slot. Still, average losses per hour will be higher when you bet a buck a spin on a 2-cent slot than a single dollar on a $1 three-reel game.

Does the entertainment value of video bonus slots make it worth your while to make the larger minimum bets that some machines now require? That's between you and your bankroll.