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Is Downtown Vegas a Better Gambling Value for Slots?

Welcome to Downtown Las Vegas Nevada
Written by Joshua

In a post last week, I pulled out data for the Las Vegas Strip to show an example about how as players we’ve helped increase casino wins by being OK with playing penny slots, which have a lower payback percentage, vs. higher denomination slots, which use to be more the norm.

This time, I’d like to shift my attention to the conversation that comes up a lot about downtown Las Vegas. It’s accepted by many that downtown Las Vegas, which is anchored by the casinos no Fremont Street, are a better gambling value than playing on the strip. Others believe that the growing popularity of downtown has led casinos there to water down the value. Luckily for us, we’ve got the data.

Penny Slot Comparison

First, let’s remind ourselves of what penny slots looked like on the strip as they came into popularity:

YearPenny Machine CountWin Amount (000s)% ChangeWin Percentage
20042,526112,925187.59%9.94%
20054,358250,627123.94%10.38%
20065,779382,96452.80%10.94%
20076,984498,57728.78%11.40%
20088,829613,38822.23%11.71%
200910,237658,2767.32%11.60%
201011,674743,10112.89%11.55%
201113,189885,76119.20%11.63%
201213,797952,5037.54%11.69%
201314,9781,024,5357.56%11.90%
201415,7041,074,7484.90%11.66%
201915,5561,420,5738.34%11.59%
Penny Machines on the Las Vegas Strip

Now let’s look at the same view for the downtown area:

YearPenny Machine CountWin Amount (000s)% ChangeWin Percentage
200495831,418273.17%9.86%
20051,42955,54676.69%10.77%
20061,70171,17028.13%10.85%
20072,27094,84333.26%10.86%
20082,619107,59413.44%11.21%
20092,819110,1682.39%11.27%
20102,931109,726-0.40%10.97%
20113,343126,92715.68%10.86%
20123,676144,73714.03%11.07%
20133,996153,8126.27%11.18%
20144,293153,3896.23%11.20%
20194,739248,6635.36%10.94%
Penny Machines in Downtown Las Vegas

When it comes to the penny slots, a similar trajectory was followed downtown as on the strip. It does seem the downtown penny slots are slightly looser, to the tune of about a half a percent. For every $100 wagered over time, that’s an extra payout of 50 cents, on average. Heavier gamblers will certainly notice that, but smaller betters probably won’t see much difference either way.

Comparing Quarter Machines

Here’s the Las Vegas chart again when it comes to quarter machines:

YearQuarter Machine CountWin Amount (000s)% ChangeWin Percentage
200419,637783,616-2.84%7.82%
200516,741725,291-7.25%8.09%
200612,351598,007-17.55%8.51%
20079,900513,234-15.68%8.87%
20088,634412,027-19.89%8.47%
20097,169297,491-27.80%8.18%
20105,959262,773-11.67%8.33%
20114,884232,120-11.66%8.29%
20123,800187,991-19.01%8.63%
20133,228171,611-8.71%8.63%
20142,666156,241-8.96%8.55%
20191,722144,379-2.94%10.86%
Quarter Machines on the Las Vegas Strip

Here’s the same data for downtown casinos:

YearQuarter Machine CountWin Amount (000s)% ChangeWin Percentage
20045,381173,849-9.52%5.43%
20054,277147,280-15.08%5.49%
20063,589122,431-16.87%5.41%
20072,858105,892-13.51%5.62%
20082,39983,605-21.05%5.50%
20092,08371,218-14.82%5.37%
20101,85661,712-13.35%5.12%
20111,69157,728-6.46%5.17%
20121,50852,955-8.27%5.26%
20131,41348,143-9.09%5.20%
20141,31344,065-8.47%5.25%
201974034,066-6.27%6.90%
Quarter Machines in Downtown Las Vegas

Quarters is where the data gets interesting. First off, downtown seemed to creep better until the last couple of years, but still has a massive advantage over the strip of about 4 percent. That means $100 played on quarter machines downtown will last nearly twice as long as on the strip – that’s significant when it comes to value for money.

However, it’s important to remember the data is likely skewed by the video poker conditions downtown, which are significantly better than they are on the strip. Full pay video poker can be found in some casinos in downtown at quarters, and likely pulls the average significantly down. But even factoring that in, I would expect quarter machines across the board to be a better value based on the spread.

So, like everything, it’s not a universal statement, although you can fairly argue downtown is better than the strip even for penny slots, even if that is a meager victory.

Downtown moreso than the strip, you can likely stretch your money a lot longer on higher denomination machines thanks to the spread between the house win on higher denomination vs. lower denomination machines.

About the author

Joshua

My name is Joshua, and I’m a 30-something 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, games that give you a potential edge, casino promotions and systems and how you can get the most out of it.

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