Some casinos offer only slot machines, others offer every "game" imaginable. Why?

I’ve recently noted casinos in the mid-Atlantic limited to slot machines, while casinos elsewhere offer everything from roulette and craps to poker, blackjack, baccarat and more.

Are legislators concerned these other games involve unacceptably high risk or that the minimum wagers can cause people to go bust too quickly? People might argue that slot machines are less risky, but I always thought slot machines offered the worst odds in a casino and have seen people blow through $200 in slot machine in 60 seconds flat.

Or, are the other games somehow considered more “sinful”?

Mostly it’s differences in licensing.

Native American casinos can generally offer bingo games at taxation and licensing terms more favorable to themselves, so “Class 2” gaming devices were developed which are more like bingo games (at least when it comes to the randomness stuff) than regular slot machines (“Class 3”). Some of these casinos may have both types, plus table games - it’s all a part of the gaming compacts these places have with their states’ authorities. Machines at horse racing venues (“racinos”) may have similar licensing limitations.

In other places in the world, for example Australia, slot machines can be licensed to “Hotels” (i.e., Bars) and “Clubs” (private gaming/resort establishments) but you’ll only find table games in actual casinos, and you’ll only find one casino in any given major city.

I don’t follow gaming legislation terribly closely, but from articles I’ve read in Card Player magazine my WAG is that slot machines are seen as both more profitable to state coffers and less “dangerous” in terms of “morals” or “community standards.” I think a lot of those slots-only casinos are attached to race tracks, so it may be that slots are seen as a fairly natural companion to betting the ponies.

Slot machines are less expensive for their owners to operate, so that may be one reason why in a small casino you may see only slots, or perhaps mostly slots and a couple of blackjack tables.

With my limited experience at gambling I simply can’t understand the appeal of putting your money into a machine and then hoping that you win something when you pull the handle. At least with roulette there are all sorts of variations in betting to keep it interesting.

This would seem to be a good reason to me… if a casino can draw the attention of gamblers while still only offering slot machines, that would probably be the best way to maximize their profit margin, especially if they can only have a limited number of games available (due to licensing or space constraints.)

In other regions, casinos have to offer the other games to compete for clientele.

That’s just a theory, and maybe not as good as one of the others posted here, but I wanted to point out the connection.

Slots have the reputation of making the most money at the lowest cost. After all, you can put several in the area that a single table game will take, you don’t have to pay dealers, you don’t have to change decks or deal with dice or anything else. Just a bunch of people that sit there and feed coins into a machine, most of which will only pay off about 80%, unless you’re lucky enough to find the good ones (I’ve never found a 95% or higher machine in any of the casinos near Albuquerque–then again, I generally hate slot machines.) Heck, if you go to all-coinless (I think Laguna Pueblo’s casino is all-ticket), you don’t even have to worry about having the change.

I’m talking about casinos that have 3,000 to 5,000 slots–and no other “games.”

I’ve read the responses above. Wonder if it’s a labor issue–finding enough talented people to work the highly skilled games.

Maybe it IS a function of turnovers–how many people you can churn through the system as fast as possible. Maybe there’s also some stigma attached to the card games or perhaps they draw more cheats. Dunno.

It’s a function of the game’s classification according to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.

25 U.S.C.A. 2703

Every tribe has complete jurisdiction over Class I games. If the state in which the tribe’s reservation is located allows a Class II game to be played by anyone under any condition, then the tribe is allowed to license and regulate that Class II game on its own soil. If it wants to have a Class III game, then it must make a compact with the state, which must be approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

This is doubtful. It’s really not as skilled as you expect. I was very suprised to hear from a conversation with a dealer at my local indian casino that they are paid minimum wage (that’d be around $6.50/hr around here). On a recent trip to Vegas, this was confirmed to me. A blackajck dealer at the Luxor (it’s no Bellagio, but it’s also no indian casino) was earning minimum wage. Now I’m sure that the per hour wage ends up significantly highter than minimum when you account for tips, but it’s still a minimum cost to the casino. Of course, paying someone to deal 24hrs/day can really add up, especially compared to a slot machine.

I always just assume (as perhaps you do) that the real slick and professional dealers are somehow paid a premium for their skills.

Whoops, forgot about my WAG:

While Blackjack, Roulette, or Craps are certainly popular games, you have to admit that they do require a certain type of person to play. Err, that is, someone who knows how to play. I don’t think anyone doesn’t know how to play the slots, though. So if you take a given target area/market. There’s only a small percentage of people who are likely to play table games.

WAG: Once you install roulette/blackjack etc. you need to hire pit bosses, you need to install a security system, you need to have spotters at the door to turn away known pros, you need to be aware of every scam and play and grift in the book. It’s a lot more work than just dumping a bunch of machines in the corner

I think you’re right here, but I’ve seen exposes that reveal much fraud and crime in the slots world. There’s always some hustler who invents a device that purportedly steers the odds his/her way a bit, or the two-bit thief who nabs payouts when a friend distracts the gambler. All in all, though, this is a nuisance compared to what you describe. IOW, there are all manner of special fixed costs associated with table games.

If so, then why do the Vegas casinos devote so much floor space to table games? Do the table games have a cache or lend some pizzazz that slots don’t?

I think partly the reason is fixed games become hugely profitable once you reach a certain volume. If you can get the high rollers in, sometimes they might blow a couple of hundred thousand in one night and that will cover 1000 slot machines.

Also, it might be for the prestige value as well. If you can get the big shots in, everyone knows your name so Joe Idaho will come in to play the slots rather than go down the street.

Again from Card Player, while this probably doesn’t account for the specifics of slots-only casinos (profit margin and licensing are more likely), there is with the explosion of poker over the last few years a shortage of well-trained poker dealers and floor people. Whether the same type of shortages might apply to other games I don’t know.

Slots are mostly for the ‘economy’ gambler. Pumping slug after slug in, just enough out to keep on playing.

‘High rollers’ prefer the table games. Make or break more on one game.

How much training does it take to be a poker dealer? Being a non-poker player, it doesn’t seem an especially skilled task.

Well, you need to know the rules and procedures and track the action of anywhere up to ten players, making correct decisions in awarding pots, changing money correctly and so on. It’s not brain surgery but it’s not unskilled either.

Part of it may be the status thing, as previously suggested. If you build a $2 billion casino-hotel, you want some class in your games.

You never saw James Bond yanking on a slot machine, Marlboro in mouth and neon pink fanny pack strapped to his beer gut.

And don’t forget calculating the rake for each hand played.

I hate the rake