The Loosest Slots Games Ever (And Where to Find Them Today)

by Michael Stevens
on October 18, 2017

For slot machine grinders like me, the Holy Grail that motivates me to keep playing is the pursuit of loose slots.

Now, before I go any further, let’s discuss what the term loose really means in the slot machine industry.

Many players mistakenly believe that individual machines can be programmed to play loosely – paying out winning spins more frequently – while others are programmed to play tight. In fact, as you make your way through the slot world, you’ll meet players who believe with all their heart that loose machines are always placed on the end of a machine bank, or casinos loosen the games on weekdays, or any number of similar myths and misconceptions.

Fortunately for reasonable slot enthusiasts, that’s just not how it works.

Any given slot machine model is designed and manufactured by a particular company –Aristocrat, International Game Technology (IGT), WMS Industries and so on. Before a machine ever hits the casino floor, these companies build random number generators (RNGs) into the game cabinet, and these RNGs provide truly random results on the reels.

Those results are based on the game’s probability of hitting certain combinations on the reels, and the payouts are related to those combinations. That’s it, and that’s all.

A machine can be designed to payout small winners relatively often, with large jackpots sprinkled in as long shots. Or, the designer may opt for a flatter pay out scheme, with small and large wins occurring with the same frequency. That’s all up to the folks creating the game, and with thousands of slot machine models out there today, you’ll find plenty of variety when it comes to payback percentage.

When a machine arrives at the casino, operators there have no control whatsoever over those probabilities and payouts. They’ve been pre-programmed into the random number generator, and for the duration of the machine’s life, they’ll remain constant and steady.

Most slot machine beginners don’t realize this is how it works, which is where the idea of loose and tight machines, as it is commonly understood, came from. After all, wouldn’t casinos want to tightly control the odds being offered to players?

Well, they do just that.

But not by influencing an individual machine’s pay out frequency from on high. Rather, a casino can modulate its own slot machine payout rates by choosing which types of slots to carry.

Remember, some slots are designed to be “people pleasers,” paying out small winners every other spin or so. These games run with payback percentages between 93 percent and 97 percent, and can occasionally go even higher.

When I call a slot machine “loose,” I’m referring to these higher than average payback rates.

On the other hand, many machines – especially those offering progressive jackpots – pay out winners much less often. But when they do, the returns are typically larger than the people-pleaser games. For these machines, the payback percentages usually range from 87 percent to 92 percent – rates I’d refer to as “tight.”

While a casino operator can’t control each machine’s payback percentage, they can pick and choose how many of the loose and tight machines are offered on the floor. One venue may elect to spread 20 loose games to 10 tight games, while the joint next door rolls with a 20 tight/10 loose arrangement.

In this way, every casino you visit will hold an inherent payback percentage for its slot games, which is calculated by averaging the payback rates for all machines on the floor. When a casino operator wants to tinker with its own paybacks – perhaps to provide a higher profit margin for owners – it doesn’t need to reduce the “looseness” on individual machines. Instead, the operator can simply remove a few high payback machines from the floor, while replacing them with lower paying machines to bump the casino’s overall average payback rate down.

Now that you know what loose slots really are, let’s dive into the important stuff: where to find the loosest slot machine games in your area.

The following guide is intended to help players anywhere in America locate the nearest loose slot games. I’ll run through as many individual states as possible, but before I do, take a look below at a prime directive for finding loose slots:

Popular Spots = Tighter Slots

One item of advice that regular slot players will regale you with involves the old Strip vs. Downtown dichotomy.

Boiling it down, these players believe that casinos on the Las Vegas Strip run much tighter slots than you’ll find elsewhere in the Off Strip or Downtown areas of Sin City. Unlike the many slot machine myths out there, however, this one is definitely true.

Take a look at the following table, provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which covers July 2015 through June 2016:

$1 Slot Machines in Las Vegas

Area Average Payback Percentage
The Strip 93.03 percent
Downtown 94.78 percent
Boulder Strip 95.60 percent
North Las Vegas 95.74 percent

As you can tell, slots found on The Strip average a much lower payback rate (93.03 percent) than their counterparts Downtown (94.78 percent), on the Boulder Strip (95.60 percent) or in North Las Vegas (95.74 percent).

The reason for this discrepancy is quite simple to grasp, and is based entirely in economics.

Casino operators on The Strip – and any area’s most popular casino destination for that matter – know that a steady stream of recreational gamblers will be flocking to the floor. These venues are practically guaranteed to receive action from the hordes of tourists wandering about, so they don’t need to offer competitive payback percentages.

Venues on The Strip tend to spread slightly tighter machines, thereby bringing their property wide average down.

And why not?

The players will be there regardless, spinning away without paying close attention, so ensuring a slightly higher profit margin is in a business’ best interest.

On the other side of the coin, casinos in the Downtown district, the Boulder Strip, or North Las Vegas don’t receive the same guaranteed flow of patrons like venues on The Strip. These properties must compete for a smaller slice of the Las Vegas gambling market, and competition always provides a better climate for customers.

For this reason, casino operators running things at an Off Strip venue tend to purchase looser slots, increasing the average payback percentage across the property.

Knowing these facts, you should always be prepared to go off the beaten path as you pursue the loosest slots around. Generally speaking, the more popular a casino is, the tighter its machines will be – so branch out and explore some of the lesser known gambling halls in your area.

Pay the Piper for Higher Paybacks

This one’s simple, so we’ll keep it short and sweet.

No matter where you play, the coin denomination you use tends to be linked directly to average payback rates.

For penny slot players, the average will lean towards the lower end of the spectrum. High rollers, on the other hand, are afforded a higher average overall.

With this in mind, remember that the high limit slot parlor in your local casino will always offer a higher average payback than the regular machines. And even if you don’t make your way to the high limit room, moving up in stakes from penny slots to nickel, quarter, or dollar is a surefire way to increase your average payback.

State by State Slot Guide

Every state that offers legalized gambling, either in commercial or tribal casinos, is subject to its own gaming regulator.

In many cases, these regulators mandate a “floor” for slot machine payback rates, ensuring that a minimum payback is met. Otherwise, some unscrupulous casinos would simply spread the worst paying games in the world, counting on players to not know any better and blow off their bankroll in a hurry.

The Arizona Department of Gaming, for example, requires any tribal operator to run slot machines with an average payback between 80 percent and 100 percent. In Maine, the Gaming Control Board mandates an 83 percent payback rate or higher for slot games.

These statewide systems can vary wildly, so it can be useful to break things down on a state by state basis to see where the loosest slots in your area can be found.

Below, you’ll find a listing of all states that make their slot machine payback rates public, complete with venue or area specific payback rates. If you don’t see your state listed here, that’s because regulations don’t require slot machine payback information to be released.

Arkansas

The Oaklawn Racing and Gaming facility is the state’s best slot destination, with an average payback rate of 93.23 percent

Southland Park Gaming and Racing is quite close, however, averaging a payback of 93.11 percent.

Colorado

Payback rates for the three major casino regions in Colorado are below, with the highest for a given region in bold:

Coin Black Hawk Central City Cripple Creek
88.66 percent 90.23 percent 91.68 percent
93.01 percent 94.34 percent 93.41 percent
25¢ 93.01 percent 94.25 percent 95.17 percent
$1 93.86 percent 95.23 percent 95.12 percent
$5 94.32 percent 93.09 percent 94.94 percent
All 92.51 percent 92.56 percent 93.55 percent
Average 92.56 percent 93.28 percent 93.98 percent

Connecticut

The table below highlights average payback rates at the Foxwoods casino complex – and its main rival, Mohegan Sun – as recorded by the Connecticut’s Division of Special Revenue:

Foxwoods

Coin Payback
89.45 percent
91.42 percent
90.33 percent
25¢ 91.84 percent
50¢ 90.94 percent
$1 93.26 percent
$5 93.79 percent
$10 94.74 percent
$25 94.43 percent
$100 94.75 percent
Average 91.93 percent

Mohegan Sun

Coin Payback
1/4¢ 86.06 percent
1/2¢ 85.83 percent
89.13 percent
89.58 percent
88.16 percent
25¢ 91.76 percent
50¢ 92.45 percent
$1 93.36 percent
$5 93.87 percent
$10 96.46 percent
$25 94.15 percent
$100 94.77 percent
Average 91.86 percent

Delaware

Per data released by the Delaware Lottery, which covers the period between July 26, 2015 and June 26, 2016, slot machine paybacks at the state’s three “racinos” breaks down as follows:

Dover Downs 92.60 percent
>Delaware Park 92.31 percent
Harrington Raceway 91.73 percent

Florida

Average payback rates – as recorded by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Gaming from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016 – are as follows:

Magic City 93.87 percent
Casino Miami 93.80 percent
Hialeah Park 93.49 percent
Dania Casino 92.21 percent
Gulfstream Park 92.39 percent
Mardi Gras 91.95 percent
The Isle 90.98 percent
Calder 90.89 percent

Illinois

Property averages, provided by the Illinois Gaming Board, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Casino Queen 92.63 percent
Harrah’s Joliet 92.07 percent
Par A Dice 91.22 percent
Argosy Alton 91.11 percent
Grand Victoria 91.08 percent
Hollywood Joliet 90.96 percent
Jumer’s 90.75 percent
Hollywood Aurora 90.61 percent
Rivers Casino 90.03 percent
Harrah’s Metropolis 88.99 percent

Indiana

Property averages, provided by the Indiana Gaming Commission, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Hoosier Park 91.59 percent
Rising Star 91.55 percent
Indiana Grand 91.53 percent
Blue Chip 91.48 percent
French Lick 91.38 percent
Belterra 90.91 percent
Majestic Star 90.42 percent
Ameristar 90.38 percent
Hollywood 90.38 percent
Tropicana 90.11 percent
Horseshoe Casino 89.92 percent
Majestic Star 89.83 percent
Horseshoe Hammond 89.82 percent

Iowa

Property averages, provided by the Indiana Gaming Commission, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Prairie Meadows 92.02 percent
Wild Rose Jefferson 91.56 percent
Wild Rose Emmetsburg 91.35 percent
Catfish Bend 91.09 percent
Riverside 91.01 percent
Rhythm City 90.84 percent
Wild Rose Clinton 90.84 percent
Mystique Casino 90.61 percent
Diamond Jo Dubuque 90.52 percent
Grand Falls 90.60 percent
Mystique Casino 90.58 percent
Diamond Jo Worth 90.40 percent
Ameristar 90.37 percent
Lakeside Casino 90.35 percent
Hard Rock 90.21 percent
Isle Bettendorf 90.21 percent
Lady Luck 90.04 percent
Isle Waterloo 89.72 percent
Harrah’s 89.63 percent
Horseshoe Council Bluffs 89.31 percent

Louisiana

Regional averages, provided by the Louisiana State Police Riverboat Gaming Section, can be found below:

Coin Baton Rouge Lake Charles New Orleans Shreveport/Bossier City
88.74 percent 88.23 percent 88.60 percent 88.64 percent
91.94 percent 92.64 percent 93.96 percent 91.79 percent
25¢ 92.57 percent 92.84 percent 92.47 percent 91.21 percent
$1 93.64 percent 92.07 percent 93.20 percent 92.48 percent
$5 94.28 percent 93.53 percent 93.28 percent 92.80 percent
All 91.17 percent 91.01 percent 90.47 percent 90.30 percent

Maine

Per the Maine Gaming Control Board, between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016 the average payback percentage for the state’s various slot providers breaks down as follows:

Oxford Casino 91.44 percent
Hollywood Casino 89.88 percent

Mississippi

Regional* averages, provided by the Mississippi Gaming Commission, can be found below:

Coin Coastal North Central
91.66 percent 91.37 percent 91.71 percent
94.68 percent 93.97 percent 95.14 percent
25¢ 94.45 percent 92.83 percent 93.55 percent
$1 93.88 percent 94.20 percent 94.11 percent
$5 94.39 percent 95.36 percent 95.38 percent
All 92.50 percent 92.09percent 91.98 percent

*Key

  • Coastal = Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay Saint Louis
  • North = Tunica, Greenville and Lula
  • Central = Vicksburg and Natchez

Missouri

Property averages, provided by the Missouri Gaming Commission, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
River City 91.00 percent
Ameristar  K.C. 91.00 percent
St. Jo Frontier 90.80 percent
Ameristar  St. Charles 90.80 percent
Hollywood 90.70 percent
Mark Twain 90.60 percent
Isle of Capri/Booneville 90.40 percent
Harrah’s   K.C 90.40 percent
Argosy 90.30 percent
Lumiere Place 90.2 percent
Isle of Capri/Girardeau 89.80 percent
Lady Luck 89.20 percent
Isle of Capri   K.C. 88.80 percent

Nevada – Las Vegas

Regional averages for The Strip, Downtown, the Boulder Strip, and North Las Vegas can be found below:

1¢ Slot Machines

The Strip 88.45 percent
Downtown 88.66 percent
Boulder Strip 90.42 percent
Las Vegas 90.71 percent

5¢ Slot Machines

The Strip 91.84 percent
Downtown 92.08 percent
Boulder Strip 95.73 percent
North Las Vegas 95.38 percent

25¢ Slot Machines

The Strip 90.59 percent
Downtown 94.48 percent
Boulder Strip 96.39 percent
North Las Vegas 96.58 percent

$1 Slot Machines

The Strip 93.03 percent
Downtown 94.78 percent
Boulder Strip 95.60 percent
North Las Vegas 95.74 percent

$1 Megabucks Machines

The Strip 87.10 percent
Downtown 87.55 percent
Boulder Strip 88.91 percent
North Las Vegas 87.53 percent

All Slot Machines

The Strip 92.12 percent
Downtown 92.87 percent
Boulder Strip 94.42 percent
North Las Vegas 93.62 percent

Nevada – Laughlin

Average payback rates by coin denomination for Laughlin’s casinos, as provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, are as follows:

COIN PAYBACK
88.94 percent
93.12 percent
25¢ 94.27 percent
$1 95.04 percent
$1 Megabucks 86.98 percent
$5 94.91 percent
All Slots 92.34 percent

Nevada – Reno

Average payback rates by coin denomination for Reno’s casinos, as provided by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, are as follows:

COIN PAYBACK
92.67 percent
94.14 percent
25¢ 93.86 percent
$1 95.90 percent
$1 Megabucks 84.72 percent
$5 95.43 percent
All Slots 94.83 percent

New Jersey

Property averages, provided by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Harrah’s 91.70 percent
Borgata 91.60 percent
Bally’s A.C. 90.90 percent
Caesars 90.80 percent
Golden Nugget 90.70 percent
Resorts 90.60 percent
Tropicana 90.60 percent

New York

Property averages, provided by the New York Lottery, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Resorts World 95.28 percent
Empire City 92.95 percent
Monticello 92.16 percent
Saratoga 92.05 percent
Tioga Downs 91.92 percent
Finger Lakes 91.81 percent
Fairgrounds 91.32 percent
Batavia Downs 91.29 percent
Vernon Downs 91.27 percent

Ohio

Property averages, provided by the Ohio Casino Control Commission, can be found below:

CASINO PAYBACK
JACK Cleveland 92.25 percent
Hollywood Columbus 91.80 percent
JACK Cincinnati 91.61 percent
Belterra Park 91.30 percent
Miami Valley 91.28 percent
Scioto Downs 91.03 percent
Hard Rock 90.89 percent
Hollywood Toledo 90.8 percent
JACK Thistledown 90.49 percent
Hollywood Dayton 90.23 percent
H wood Mahoning 89.92 percent

Pennsylvania

Property averages, provided by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, can be found below:

VENUE PAYBACK
Parx Casino 90.76 percent
Valley Forge 90.27 percent
Mohegan Sun 90.17 percent
Mount Airy 90.13 percent
Harrah’s Philadelphia 90.00 percent
The Meadows 89.95 percent
Sands Bethlehem 89.91 percent
The Rivers 89.73 percent
Nemacolin 89.48 percent
Sugar House 89.48 percent
Presque Isle 89.52 percent
Hollywood at Penn 89.29 percent

Conclusion

Finding the loosest slot machine games depends on where you’re located and how far you’re willing to travel. Use this guide of where to find the loosest slot machine games right now the next time you want to venture out to play slots.

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