I’ve previously shared that one of the most critical, yet harder, questions to answer about the MGM Rewards transition is what this means for earning and maintaining status, and earning those real time comps in the two buckets MGM has always offered.
Unfortunately, without a transparent formula for earning tier credits, the only way we can truly know is to play, and see what our play accomplishes. So I’ve begun an experiment that I will continue to perform throughout the year to see what this yields for me as a player.
I’ve begun with the closest MGM casino to my home, MGM Springfield, and I designed a simple experiment to figure out what I’m getting from each slot. I chose to do $100 in wagers on each slot machine, and record my three balances after each machine. This would show me what each machine yielded on $100 in coin-in.
I devised this experiment in a similar way to one performed by Steve Bourie of the American Casino Guide Book when he was similarly trying to understand the comp program of a casino closer to him, the Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.
Here are the results of my runthrough of $100 in spins on 15 slots, as well as a Video Poker machine for comparison. I am at the Gold tier of the MGM Rewards program, so my Slot Dollars earnings are boosted by 20 percent over what a Sapphire player would earn. To keep my numbers clean, I’m reporting below exactly what I earned, multiplier inclusive, and we’ll look at what that means during the analysis.
|Machine||Denom||Tier Credits||MGM Rewards Points||Slot Dollars|
|Thunder Arrow Jurassic Queen||1 cent||103||60||$0.43|
|Jinse Dao Dragon||1 cent||102||59||$0.44|
|Fu Dai Lian Lian Dragon||1 cent||104||59||$0.44|
|Quick Spin Super Charged 7s||1 cent||79||46||$0.32|
|Dragon Link: Peace and Long Life||1 cent||82||47||$0.36|
|Ultimate Fire Link: RiverWalk||1 cent||60||34||$0.26|
|Dancing Drums||1 cent||105||61||$0.52|
|Whales of Cash||5 cent||96||55||$0.39|
|Coin Combo: Hurricane Horse||1 cent||82||48||$0.36|
|Stinkin’ Rich||1 cent||60||34||$0.25|
|Quick Hit Platinum||1 cent||85||49||$0.36|
|Wheel of Fortune: Triple Double Diamond||25 cent||92||53||$0.40|
|777 Double Jackpot||25 cent||92||53||$0.39|
|Kronos Unleashed||1 cent||99||57||$0.43|
|Quick Spin Super Hot 7s||1 cent||78||45||$0.34|
|15 SLOT TOTAL||—||1,318||760||$5.69|
|7/5 Jacks or Better Video Poker||50 cent||33||12||$0.07|
What can we learn from this limited, but useful experiment? Quite a lot, actually.
Ratios Between Buckets are Similar
The more Tier Credits you earn, the more MGM Rewards Points and Slot Dollars you earn. They move proportionally up or down based on the earnings of a particular game.
The expectation was MGM was moving to a theoretical loss based calculation, which would explain why some slots offer more than others. More points earned from the same coin-in basically means the slot is expected to be set to a lower payback.
MGM Springfield still had countdowns visibly present on some machines, but the countdowns (which used to universally be 300, for $3 per point) differed by machine, and observant enough players will be able to gain a bit of knowledge from that now, should they choose to use that information towards selecting some games over others.
At MGM Springfield, Tier Credits Appear Easier to Earn Than Before
The previous Mlife-era calculation was for non-specialty slots, $3 would earn you a base point. At regional properties, that base point was worth 2 tier credits. So $100 of play would net you roughly 66 tier credits. I got at least that from all but two slots I played during my session, and in many cases I earned 40 to 50 percent more than the old calculations.
For a regional property player, presuming consistency across the board at all the regional properties, this is a positive development for maintaining your tier. However, if these same calculations were also rolled out in Las Vegas, this would be a major devaluation of tier credits earnings, because you earned tier credits on slots five times faster in Las Vegas.
Based on some back of the napkin calculations I’ve seen from a couple of people I know who have gone, this is quite possibly what happened there, cushioned for now by a temporary 2x multiplier that goes through April 30. But I don’t have the same clear data points that I do here, so I’ll reserve final comment until I can do my own testing there.
I also didn’t venture into any higher limit games for this experiment, but if it really is based on theoretical loss, I’d expect higher limit machines to earn at a lower rate, but it really depends – the quarter denomination machines I played were right in the midst of all the other penny denomination machines. At my next opportunity I’ll aim to try a dollar denomination machine to see what differences I can discern, if anything.
The Specialty Slot Penalty Appears Gone
I purposely chose a few machines that had been designated as specialty slots at MGM Springfield to see how they worked out. One was among the highest tier credit earners and one was among the lowest of the group, but both extremes had company from machines that weren’t specialty slots in the past.
This tells me that in the new world order the specialty slot designation and penalty no longer seems to be a thing. This is a good thing for players who favor link games and other formerly specialty slots, as you’ll earn tier credits a lot faster than under the old model, at least in Springfield. In one example I earned tier credits more than five times faster than I would have before!
Comps Are Accrued Differently Than the Old Transparent Formulas
Before MGM began changing components one by one, that same base point per $3 in non-specialty slot wagers would earn you one express comp cent (now one MGM Reward Point) and one point (now one Slot Dollars cent) in most markets. So that would be 66 cents of value per $100 wagered. However, I don’t believe MGM Springfield ever was on that formula, and Borgata definitely wasn’t.
Between MGM Reward Points and Slot Dollars, I accrued a total of $13.27 in value, which actually correlated nearly perfectly with the tier credit earnings (I seemed to earn a few cents more on one machine than the ratios would normally predict, so that would explain the differential).
However, take away the 20 percent boost on slot dollars and a Sapphire player would presumably earn $12.34. For $1500 in coin in, that is still higher than what would’ve been expected under the old formulas. My guess is those higher denomination machines would pay out less here too, given the expectation of lower tier credit earnings as well, but I will need to test that assumption to confirm or not.
The earnings are definitely tilted more towards the MGM Rewards Points than the Slot Dollars, at least in Springfield, which seems consistent with how things were before the change. Also worth noting is the multiplier that used to be earned on the Express Comps (now MGM Rewards Points) was retired, so higher level players may see a difference that lower-level players may not be seeing here.
Video Poker Has Ups and Downs Too
I only did one session on Video Poker, but noticed the Tier Credit earnings here differed from the old formula. It would be expected that $100 in coin-in would earn 20 Tier Credits under the old program, but on my session I actually picked up 32.
However, comp earnings on that session for me was slower than slots – the ratio is lower per tier credit on that game than it was on the slots. I suspect that’s intentional given the lower house advantage on Video Poker with the overall comp earnings looking lower overall than the previous transparent formulas. I earned 19 cents of value, vs. 28 cents with the multipliers that would have been in place at my tier on both buckets before.
I plan to get to at least more MGM properties for further testing over the course of 2022, including at least one more regional property (more if time/budget allows) and one or more in Las Vegas.
As these experiments continue, I’ll share what I learn, and what that means for you as a player. And hopefully for those who are wondering what all these changes mean, this helps further illustrate what to expect when playing at MGM properties going forward.