Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening

Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening. This is the question that continuously pops up in gambling forums, Facebook communities and podcasts. Many think the money lost due to COVID-19 is reason for casinos to tighten their games – especially slot machines. Will casinos do this? The answer is simple. NO! And here’s why."Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening?"

Reopening Takes a Lot of Planning and Execution

Remember, most casinos have been closed since the end of February. Employees and slot attendants have been furloughed or laid off. They’ve turned everything off and locked the door. When casinos reopen, they will spend most of the time getting safety and health precautions in place. The payback settings on slot machines are likely the last thing considered.

Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening with the Flip of a Switch?

These days, computer chips run slot machines to provide the pre-determined payback percentage. This percentage is mathematically decided upon at the factory and ordered by the casino. In order for a casino to change the payback, they would have to change the chip with a new one from the factory.

To change the chip in a slot machine, paperwork is filed and submitted to the Casino Control Commission for EACH machine. Often, Gaming Commission agents must be present. It’s time-consuming and the chips are very expensive. For this reason, it is more economical to decide on the payback percentages before purchasing the machines. It’s literally too much of a pain for casinos to lower the paybacks for a short period of time and then turn around and raise them. Are you still curious about Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening

Casinos Must Follow Protocol

"Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening?"

Gaming Commissions insist on this protocol for changing slot machine chips. Casinos must also follow state, jurisdiction or Gaming Commission guidelines for how high and low the payback percentages can be. Yes, tribal casinos have the same protocols. It depend on state agreements with and the inclusion of state or sovereign gaming commissions overseen by the state.

To go rogue and not follow protocol means possibly losing their gambling license. To regain lost revenue by doing this and losing their chance to run a casino is definitely a risky wager.

Server-Based Slots

Server-Based slot systems were supposed to be the latest and greatest innovation by slot manufacturers. This technology has been around since 2011. Games are downloaded to slot machine cabinets on the floor via a central computer server that runs the games.

Supposedly, only under off-floor, controlled conditions in Nevada have seen this technology used. Las Vegas MGM’s Aria and Treasure Island use this technology as well as a few casinos in California, Michigan, and Mississippi.

"Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening?"
Aria Resort Casino, Las Vegas

Worried?  Don’t be. It hasn’t really taken off like manufacturers wanted.  And none of New England’s casino use this system. The rules for this application often follow those in Las Vegas:

  • nothing can be changed if there are credits on the game the slot machine will always reject any changes sent when there are credits on the meter,
  • as long as you are playing and have credit in the game, nothing can be changed.
  • the machine also has to be idle for four minutes prior to and following any changes.

Buddy Frank On Tightening Slots

Buddy Frank has over 30 years of senior management experience in Slot Operations and Casino Marketing. “Casinos Tighten Slots Before Reopening?” His advice to casino slot managers concerning this is most telling from the management point of view.

“Over time, [with tightening slot percentages], there would be a noticeable reduction in average seat time for many high-repeat players. That could result in fewer visits, more visits to competitors or giving up on casino play overall….If you do tighten your slot games, and eventually see your volumes dip, the cost of regaining that business is unbelievably high. First, you’ll have to loosen the games (for a net loss on current levels), then spend a lot of dollars in marketing to regain your previous levels. That’s why I advise any slot executive who is considering tightening their machines, to be very, very careful.”

In Conclusion….

No casino would risk their gaming license to cheat players out of their money simply because it wouldn’t make financial sense to do so. The odds are always in the casinos’ favor anyway. A casino license is not something you intentionally risk losing by cheating or ignoring regulations. Not only would it be unethical and illegal, it would be incredibly stupid.

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Stay safe, follow casino rules, and be considerate to your fellow gamblers when you return. And remember, Embrace the Math, Not the Myth



  1. No. Foxwoods does not have server-based slots. It sounds like they were just putting the finishing touches on new machines. When they receive the machines from the factories, there is still some tweaking to do, like possibly setting denominations. On server based, when they are changing the machine games, it usually has a small message on it saying it is being worked on. Thanks Paul for your question

  2. I would never doubt your reporting – but when I was in Foxwoods (Grand Pequot casino) about 9 months ago, I noticed banks of very new machines that would be roped off in the later afternoon, and then put back in service in the evening with different games on their screens. Wouldn’t those be running off central units?

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