With casinos facing an unprecedented shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 spread, players have been popping up all sorts of questions about things from comps to tier years. But one of the more persistent questions I’ve been seeing relates to something pretty basic:
Will casinos change the odds on their games before reopening?
STATUS: Highly unlikely, for similar reasons to why they don’t change odds at other times.
Right now casinos have completely closed up shop, furloughing or laying off substantial portions of their workforce. The machines are off, the lights dimmed, and the doors locked.
When casinos are given the all clear, their energy will be spent getting a complex set of machinery in motion – the payback settings on the machines are likely the last thing on their mind.
Casinos looking to save a few bucks have a number of ways to cut corners. They could reduce offers, for instance. Changing the machine’s payback won’t necessarily do a thing in the short term, because short term variance can overtake long term considerations for awhile. So any short term changes may not have the intended effect.
If the casino did want to make any changes, like swapping out game hardware or loading in new games, this would certainly be a good time to do so, but many casinos will also likely curb some of the spending on that to just keep costs contained right now.
So it’s also pretty unlikely you’ll see any massive changes on the floor between the day they closed and the day they opened, unless they were already in the process of making a change and/or already purchased items that were awaiting installation.
And about those offers and whether they’ll cut corners, during the recession in 2008, casinos did this and many found their rebound lacking for awhile as a result of it. Some players will likely be skittish, and others will be in high risk groups that delay their return to normalcy for a bit.
If I were a betting man (and this is a slot-based website, after all), I’d expect the first rounds of offers to be more generous than normal to jumpstart things. I also would anticipate them going to their most loyal players. My logic for this is that casinos will need a bit of warming up to get back to their previous standards, and being off the job awhile means people will be rusty.
Loyal players will be understanding and accept a few hiccups, while the casino companies have their loyal players putting them through the paces so they can get back into a rhythm.
So, expect paybacks to be in line with what they have been at a given property, and I would expect offers to be a bit more generous in the initial weeks or months after a property reopens.