7 Gambling Activities That Aren’t Worth Your Time

By in Casino & Gaming on
6 Minute Read

Smart gamblers know both sides of the coin when it comes to what gambling activities to participate in. They know what gambling activities give them the best chance to win and they understand that some activities have to be avoided because they can’t possibly beat them.

This article covers 7 gambling activities that every gambler needs to avoid. These are the worst of the worst, and no matter how you play them you’re never going to win unless you get extremely lucky. And luck isn’t a strategy.

Most casino games have a return of 95% or more, but some of these activities are at 75% or less. Your bankroll simply can’t survive for long with these gambling activities.

1 – Lottery Games

The common way to compare gambling activities is to use the house edge or return to player percentages. These two things are on the opposite sides of the same coin, so they basically mean the same thing.

When it comes to the lottery, it has the highest house edge and lowest return to player percentage of all gambling activities that I know of. The edge is usually at least 50%, and can go as high as 75% or more. These numbers are so bad that you should stop buying lottery tickets immediately and never buy another 1.

The only positive thing you can say about the lottery is that you have a chance to win millions from a small wager. But when the odds are 1 in over 200,000,000 how much of a chance do you realistically have?

If you can stick with spending only a few dollars each week on big lottery games I suppose it’s ok. But the edge you’re up against is simply huge. And somewhere close to 99.99% of all lottery gamblers lose in the long run. These aren’t the kind of odds you want to be you against as a gambler.

2 – Keno Games

Keno isn’t quite as bad as most lottery games, but it’s still bad. Keno comes in different variations and the amount you win varies from casino to casino, but on average the return to player is around 75%. This means the house edge for keno is around 25%.

This sounds a lot better than the lottery, and it is. But when you compare it to any other game in the casino it’s still a terrible bet.

Just like the lottery, you can play keno for cheap. Most keno games start at $1 for a ticket, but unlike the lottery the top prize is rarely more than $100,000. And some keno games have much smaller top prizes.

I can’t think of a single good thing to say about keno. You should erase keno from your brain and act like the game doesn’t even exist.

3 – Bingo

Most bingo players aren’t big casino game players. The people I see playing bingo seem to be having a lot of fun, and even though they aren’t winning they might be getting enough entertainment value out of the game that it makes it worth playing to them.


The return to player and house edge numbers for bingo games vary a great deal. The best numbers I’ve seen for bingo games are around a 90% return to player. The worst numbers are much worse, placing the numbers closer to keno.

If you enjoy the social interaction of playing bingo for fun, you can play it. But try to invest the smallest amount possible to play, and realize that you’re paying to be entertained. This isn’t always a bad thing, but there are plenty of better options than bingo when it comes to gambling.

4 – Slot Machines

This entry is going to hurt many gamblers because slot machines are far and away the most popular form of gambling activity for millions. But playing slot machines is a simply terrible way to gamble.

I understand that most lost games are fun to play. I even enjoy playing slots sometimes. But having a realistic chance to win is more interesting to me than having fun. And some games that offer a chance to win are fun. Poker is the first gambling activity that can be fun and profitable that comes to mind.

Slot machine return to player numbers vary from machine to machine, but most games fall somewhere between 85% and 95%. A few fall outside of this range, but this is a good average. And you can’t find the true return numbers for most slots games anyway.

In addition to slot machines having a lower return percentage than most casino games, they also play extremely fast. So even if you’re only betting a few dollars per spin, you can still risk $1,000 or more every hour.

If you’re stuck on playing slot machines, set a tight budget and stop playing as soon as you exhaust your budget. If you don’t, you’re going to end up losing far more than you’re going to lose playing almost every other casino game.

5 – Roulette

The first 4 gambling activities on this list all fall short of what I consider the minimum return to player number that makes a game somewhat playable. If a game or gambling activity doesn’t return at least 95% it gets placed on my do not play list.

These next 3 gambling activities flirt with the 95% number, but they still get placed on the do not play list because there are so many better options.

Roulette games usually are available with either 38 spaces or 37 spaces. The 38 space game, which is sometimes called American roulette, has a return to player of 94.74%.


This is the first reason why you should never play American roulette. The second reason is because there are better versions of roulette available. Any roulette game that only uses 37 spaces offers a higher return to player number.

37 space roulette tables that use European rules have a return on 97.3%, and the ones that use French rules return 98.65% on certain wagers.

Even the best roulette wheels don’t offer a return as high as some video poker games, some blackjack games, and 1 wager at the baccarat table.

6 – 3 Card Poker

3 Card Poker has been 1 of the most popular casino games released in the last 30 years. The argument can be made that it’s the most popular game outside of the casino staples that have been around forever, like craps, roulette, and baccarat.

When you stick with the ante and play wagers, 3 Card Poker isn’t a terrible game. The return to player on these wagers is 96.63%. This isn’t as good as some casino games, but as you’ve learned in this article, it’s not as bad as many gambling options either.

The problem is that most 3 Card Poker players also make the pair plus wager. And this wager is really bad. The return on the pair plus wager is only 92.72%. This makes it worse than some slot machines, and most other games in casinos.

7 – Caribbean Stud Poker

I’m amazed every time I’m in a casino and see a Caribbean Stud Poker table. It’s not that Caribbean Stud isn’t a fun table game, because it is. But there are so many casino table games that are better, that I don’t understand why anyone still plays Caribbean Stud.

The return to player for Caribbean Stud is only 94.78%. Almost every other table game in the casino offers a better return, and some are over 5 times better. With a return as high as 99.75%, blackjack is almost 5% better.

And 5% is a big deal.

In real world comparison, for every $100 you bet on Caribbean Stud or blackjack, you lose almost $5 more playing Caribbean Stud. And understanding how fast you can bet $100, even if you’re betting $10 or $20 at a time, there’s simply no reason why anyone should ever play Caribbean Stud Poker.

Even if you want to stick with poker based games, there are better options in most casinos. Playing traditional poker like Texas hold’em is a better option.


The worst gambling activities are included on this list. If you simply refused to play any of these gambling games you’re going to become a better gambler.

Some of these gambling activities are worse than others, but in the end they’re all bad. The main reason why they’re bad is because many other gambling activities offer a better chance to win.

Now that you know which gambling games to avoid, start building a list of the best gambling activities. Consider activities including poker, gambling on sports, blackjack, video poker, and horse racing.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

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