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As gamblers shun stingier slots, casinos shake things up
January 2, 2017 – 11:51 am
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In this Sept. 24, 2015, photo, a man plays an electronic roulette game at the Downtown Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas. As gamblers move away from traditional slot machines, game-makers and casinos are looking at new ways to keep people playing.LAS VEGAS — Move aside one-armed bandits. The casino floor is making room for game zones with oversized popping dice, digital spinning Big Six wheels and virtual roulette, with an eye on adding arcade-style video games in the not-so-distant future.

As gamblers appear to be shunning stingier slot machines that don't offer as many payouts, game-makers and casinos are keen on coming up with the next big thing to keep people playing.

The changing casino floor will be on display this week at the industry's premier trade show, the Global Gaming Expo on the Las Vegas Strip, and in properties across Sin City in the coming months.

Here's what the casino industry has been facing and their plans:



Slot machines have long been suspected of keeping a tighter grip on the money gamblers feed into them.

The proliferation of penny slots, in particular, with minimum and maximum bets that far exceed a single copper coin and carry with them inherently worse odds at getting one's money back, has meant a gambler's wager doesn't last as long as it used to.

© AP Photo/John Locher In this Sept. 24, 2015, photo, a man plays an electronic roulette game at the Downtown Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas. As gamblers move away from traditional slot machines, game-makers and casinos are looking at new ways to keep people playing.

Casinos across the country, with few exceptions, have been keeping more of what's wagered on slots, according to research commissioned by the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers.

But their bottom lines haven't gotten an obvious boost. Revenue earned from slots has been on the decline for years. That's because gamblers may be walking away from what they see as a raw deal, among other reasons, said Marcus Prater, executive director of the industry group.

In Nevada, where the average payback on slot machines is 93.6 percent of every dollar wagered, machines must offer no less than a 75 percent average payback to the player. Most vary based on the minimum bets.

Changing the hold — the amount the casino keeps — isn't as easy as pressing a button. Prater said it requires alerting regulators and switching out a chip in the machine.

Tom Jingoli, with slot-machine maker Konami and the association's president, said he hopes the survey's results spark conversations during the conferences between companies like his and casino operators, none of whom would comment on the survey except for the Downtown Grand near Fremont Street in Las Vegas.

CEO Jim Simms called the reasons for falling slot revenue, including slot-hold, "nebulous" and touted the Downtown Grand's increasing rewards for loyal slot players.

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