Over the next few weeks I’ll be diving into topics around penny slots on the site, because there’s a number of discussions around them that have had massive impacts on slot machines over the years, for better or worse.
One is a simple set of questions: Do penny slots cost a penny? Are they even a low bet?
STATUS: Generally, no. But you do have the occasional ability to truly bet a single penny per spin if you want to (most people don’t really want to though).
One of the bigger fallacies about penny slots is, because their denomination is so low, the bets are low too. This certainly could have been the case in the beginning – remember when a max bet on Quick Hit slots was $1.50? – but I’ve seen penny slots with a $10 max bet out there with some frequency in recent years.
One of the big changes that’s happened in more recent years is a reduction in opportunities to choose how many lines to bet. One of the ways penny players were able to keep wagers lower was the ability to choose the number of lines they wanted to play. That means they could truly play a penny per spin if they really wanted to.
But many newer games just have a row or two of bet options that are all inclusive of lines, and your only choice is around extra bets or not. This means your penny bet wager may easily exceed in some cases the 75 cent or $1.25 max bets you used to see on three-line and five-line mechanical quarter machines (with a much higher payback setting, by the way).
The reality is penny slots have been marketed in some ways as an affordable, accessible way to play, but evolution in gaming design has led to many of them creeping into the arena of what their higher-limit predecessors would land, but still offer the lower paybacks. We’ll get into what this has meant for players soon, but for now, it’s important to remember this when you’re on the gaming floor.
Fortunately, you can indeed bet a penny if you want to on certain machines. Of course, the ability to win more than a couple bucks isn’t really there, as you can see in the video below, taken on my recent cruise (thank you to Brian Christopher for recording this amazing moment):
As I’ve mentioned on various other posts, if your bets get above a certain level, it’s worth considering whether penny slots are the right game, or if bumping up denomination may make more sense.