Slot Payback

Iowa Casino Slot Payback, Fiscal Years 2019-2022

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Written by Joshua

Today’s post looks at payback for non-tribal gaming casinos in Iowa, such as riverboat gambling and pari-mutuel facilities. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission therefore has reporting for 19 such facilities.

For slot machines, the data is broken down for each property by month and denomination, making the data more detailed than markets like Nevada or Delaware, and putting it in line with Connecticut.

Because of the number of properties, the layout of four years of payback data by denomination for four fiscal years, which would be my ideal, is a bit impractical. That data is on the commission website, but here we’ll review the last four years of overall payback data, and compare the last fiscal year by certain denominations for all 19 properties, so we’ll get a bit of both.

A fiscal year for Iowa is from July 1 of one year through June 30 of the following year; therefore fiscal year 2022 covers July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Overall Payback by Casino

Let’s start by comparing overall payback for the last four years:

Ameristar II90.44%90.51%90.02%90.05%
Casino Queen Marquette89.99%89.85%90.14%90.19%
Catfish Bend90.56%90.56%90.61%90.42%
Diamond Jo Dubuque90.16%90.22%90.26%90.49%
Diamond Jo Worth90.15%90.38%90.49%90.52%
Grand Falls90.57%90.74%90.66%90.36%
Hard Rock90.30%90.19%90.24%90.29%
Harrah’s Council Bluffs89.62%89.50%89.76%89.77%
Horseshoe Council Bluffs89.54%89.47%89.50%89.66%
Isle Waterloo89.72%89.90%89.94%90.04%
Isle of Capri Bettendorf89.93%89.89%89.76%89.72%
Prairie Meadows91.06%91.32%91.60%91.67%
Q Casino90.58%90.48%90.49%90.63%
Rhythm City90.05%90.14%90.19%90.26%
Wild Rose Clinton90.66%90.55%90.28%90.56%
Wild Rose Emmetsburg90.37%90.37%90.42%90.61%
Wild Rose Jefferson90.74%90.57%90.70%90.52%
SOURCE: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission

Some observations:

  • Prairie Meadows has the highest payback all four years, and is the only one to payback over 91% all four years.
  • Conversely, Lakeside is the only one to pay back less than 89% all four years. All the Caesars-owned properties are right behind them, all paying below 90 percent in recent years. Just about everyone else is in a range of 90 to 91 percent.
  • The numbers are solidly consistent across the board for all four years, so the casinos seem pretty stable in what they want to make from that perspective.

Fiscal Year 2022 Payback by Denomination

Here are the four most common denominations seen on casino floors; while reporting is available for other denominations, many properties don’t have any, so these are the most useful comparisons:

Denomination1 cent5 cent25 cent$1
Ameristar II89.23%93.51%94.02%93.28%
Casino Queen Marquette89.19%92.73%93.01%93.24%
Catfish Bend88.75%90.61%92.85%94.39%
Diamond Jo Dubuque89.30%94.78%92.87%92.87%
Diamond Jo Worth89.25%94.34%93.49%92.12%
Grand Falls90.25%92.45%92.26%91.78%
Hard Rock89.22%92.67%93.59%93.45%
Harrah’s Council Bluffs88.44%93.70%93.26%91.62%
Horseshoe Council Bluffs88.03%93.00%93.45%90.71%
Isle Waterloo88.75%90.91%92.36%92.16%
Isle of Capri Bettendorf88.72%93.70%93.30%91.66%
Prairie Meadows89.30%93.89%94.22%94.29%
Q Casino89.47%93.94%94.18%94.26%
Rhythm City89.15%93.49%92.67%93.31%
Wild Rose Clinton90.13%94.12%93.57%91.83%
Wild Rose Emmetsburg89.68%92.08%93.09%92.16%
Wild Rose Jefferson89.78%91.94%92.99%93.35%
SOURCE: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission

Some observations around the individual denomination paybacks:

  • The delta between the penny and nickel slots at many of these casinos is 4-5%, especially at the Caesars-owned properties, which for most of their properties have particularly low penny slot payback and a 5 percent higher nickel payback percentage. It really indicates in these markets potentially seeking out those higher denominations to get better paybacks.
  • Because nickel denomination paybacks jump so much, there’s many properties here that see a slide in quarter or dollar denomination paybacks, enough so that they may not always be a better bet in terms of long term payback.
  • It’s likely based on the data presented that multi-denomination machines are being reported with the lowest denomination on the game, and that could be swaying the nickel denomination data. But if so, penny denomination games could be even lower because they’d be averaging in higher denominations from multi-denomination machines as well.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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