In Vegas, Stevens had always kept plans to join her and the girls for lunch. At home, he was always on time for dinner. So she was stunned when he called her with bad news on January 30, She was on the stairs with a load of laundry when the phone rang.
Stevens never did come clean with her about how much he had stolen or about how often he had been gambling. Even after he was fired, Stevens kept gambling as often as five or six times a week. Stacy noticed that he was irritable more frequently than usual and that he sometimes snapped at the girls, but she figured that it was the fallout of his unemployment. When he headed to the casino, he told her he was going to see his therapist, that he was networking, that he had other appointments.
When money appeared from his occasional wins, he claimed that he had been doing some online trading. Afterward, Stacy studied gambling addiction and the ways slot machines entice customers to part with their money. In , she filed a lawsuit against both Mountaineer Casino and International Game Technology, the manufacturer of the slot machines her husband played.
At issue was the fundamental question of who killed Scott Stevens. Did he die because he was unable to rein in his own addictive need to gamble? Or was he the victim—as the suit alleged—of a system carefully calibrated to prey upon his weakness, one that robbed him of his money, his hope, and ultimately his life?
But since Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in , tribal and commercial casinos have rapidly proliferated across the country, with some 1, now operating in 40 states. The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. And, despite the popularity of slot machines and the decades of innovation surrounding them, when adjusted for inflation, there has not been a significant increase in the amount spent by customers on slot-machine gambling during an average casino visit.
Noffsinger, 72, has been here before. A soft-spoken personal-injury attorney based in Indiana, he has filed two previous lawsuits against casinos. In , he sued Aztar Indiana Gaming, of Evansville, on behalf of David Williams, then 51 years old, who had been an auditor for the State of Indiana.
But the U. Four years later, Noffsinger filed a suit on behalf of Jenny Kephart, then 52 years old, against Caesars Riverboat Casino, in Elizabeth, Indiana, alleging that the casino, aware that Kephart was a pathological gambler, knowingly enticed her into gambling in order to profit from her addiction. Kephart had filed for bankruptcy after going broke gambling in Iowa, and moved to Tennessee. When the casino sued her for damages on the money she owed, Kephart countersued.
Unlike in his earlier gambling cases, however, he decided to include a products-liability claim in this one, essentially arguing that slot machines are knowingly designed to deceive players so that when they are used as intended, they cause harm. In focusing on the question of product liability, Noffsinger was borrowing from the rule book of early antitobacco litigation strategy, which, over the course of several decades and countless lawsuits, ultimately succeeded in getting courts to hold the industry liable for the damage it wrought on public health.
When Noffsinger filed the Stevens lawsuit, John W. E ven by the estimates of the National Center for Responsible Gaming, which was founded by industry members, 1. That is more than the number of women living in the U. Others outside the industry estimate the number of gambling addicts in the country to be higher. Such addicts simply cannot stop themselves, regardless of the consequences.
Gambling is a drug-free addiction. Yet despite the fact that there is no external chemical at work on the brain, the neurological and physiological reactions to the stimulus are similar to those of drug or alcohol addicts. Some gambling addicts report that they experience a high resembling that produced by a powerful drug.
Like drug addicts, they develop a tolerance, and when they cannot gamble, they show signs of withdrawal such as panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations. Neuroscientists have discovered characteristics that appear to be unique to the brains of addicts, particularly in the dopaminergic system, which includes reward pathways, and in the prefrontal cortex, which exerts executive control over impulses.
Gambling addicts may have a genetic predisposition, though a specific marker has not yet been uncovered. Environmental factors and personality traits—a big gambling win within the past year, companions who gamble regularly, impulsivity, depression—may also contribute to the development of a gambling problem.
Given the guilt and shame involved, gambling addiction frequently progresses to a profound despair. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that one in five gambling addicts attempts suicide—the highest rate among addicts of any kind. There are no accurate figures for suicides related to gambling problems, but there are ample anecdotes: the police officer who shot himself in the head at a Detroit casino; the accountant who jumped to his death from a London skyscraper in despair over his online-gambling addiction; the year-old student who killed himself in Las Vegas after losing his financial-aid money to gambling; and, of course, Stevens himself.
P roblem gamblers are worth a lot of money to casinos. According to some research, 20 percent of regular gamblers are problem or pathological gamblers. Moreover, when they gamble, they spend—which is to say, lose—more than other players.
At least nine independent studies demonstrate that problem gamblers generate anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of total gambling revenues. Casinos know exactly who their biggest spenders are. According to a article in Time magazine, back in the s casino operators bought records from credit-card companies and mailing lists from direct-mail marketers. These days, the casinos have their own internal methods for determining who their most attractive customers are. Each time a patron hits the Spin or the Deal button, which can be as frequently as to 1, times an hour, the casino registers the data.
In some machines, miniature cameras watch their faces and track their playing behavior. Several companies supply casinos with ATMs that allow patrons to withdraw funds through both debit and cash-advance functions, in some cases without ever leaving the machines they are playing. Some of the companies also sell information on their ATM customers to the casinos. All of these data have enabled casinos to specifically target their most reliable spenders, primarily problem gamblers and outright addicts.
They also employ hosts who befriend large spenders and use special offers to encourage them to stay longer or return soon. Some hosts receive bonuses that are tied to the amount customers spend beyond their expected losses, which are calculated using the data gathered from previous visits. The business plan for casinos is based on the addicted gambler. It increased the limits on some slot machines so that she could spend more on single games. It also made a new machine off-limits to other customers so that Richardson could be the first to play it.
Management assigned Richardson an executive host, who offered her free drinks, meals, hotel stays, and tickets to entertainment events. In , Richardson, then 54, was sentenced to 14 to 20 years in prison for the crime. The thefts ultimately put the company out of business. A representative for Ameristar Casino declined to comment on the lawsuit. The U. District Court for Nebraska agreed that Colombo had sufficiently proved its initial claim of unjust enrichment, which the casino would have to defend itself against.
W alk into the Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia, and the slot machines overwhelm you—more than 1, of them, lights blinking, animated screens flashing, the simulated sound of clinking coins blaring across the floor. But the vast majority sit at the slot machines. Slots and video poker have become the lifeblood of the American casino. They generate nearly 70 percent of casino revenues, according to a American Gaming Association report, up from 45 percent four decades ago.
Three out of five casino visitors say their favorite activity is playing electronic gaming machines. Their popularity spells profits not only for casinos but for manufacturers as well. Old-fashioned three-reel slot machines consisted of physical reels that were set spinning by the pull of a lever. If the same symbol aligned on the payline on all three reels when they stopped spinning, the player would win a jackpot that varied in size depending on the symbol.
The odds were straightforward and not terribly hard to calculate. But where each reel stops is no longer determined by the force of a good pull of the lever. The physical reels are not spinning until they run out of momentum, as it might appear. Thus it is possible for game designers to reduce the odds of hitting a big jackpot from 1 in 10, to 1 in million.
Moreover, it is almost impossible for a slots player to have any idea of the actual odds of winning any jackpot, however large or small. The intent is to give the player the impression of having almost won—when, in fact, he or she is no closer to having won than if the symbol had not appeared on the reel at all.
Some slot machines are specifically programmed to offer up this near-miss result far more often than they would if they operated by sheer chance, and the psychological impact can be powerful, leading players to think, I was so close.
Maybe next time. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School and the author of Gambling and the Law , has written, Nevada regulations operate on the theory that a sophisticated player would be able to tell the real odds of winning by playing a machine long enough. Research has shown that an elevated number of near-miss results does increase playing time.
Indeed, as early as , B. In the United States, by contrast, the federal government granted the patent for virtual reel mapping in IGT purchased the rights to it in and later licensed the patent to other companies. Of course, classic, spinning-reel slot machines make up only a fraction of the electronic gaming machines available at most casinos.
Technology has evolved such that many machines lack physical reels altogether, instead merely projecting the likenesses of spinning symbols onto a video screen. Instead of betting on one simple payline, players are able to bet on multiple patterns of paylines—as many as on some machines. This allows for more opportunities to win, but the results are often deceptive. You can get to of these false wins, which we also call losses , an hour.
Because the machine is telling the player he or she is winning, the gradual siphoning is less noticeable. Related to the video slot machines are video-poker terminals, which IGT began popularizing in The standard five-card-draw game shows five cards, each offering players the option to hold or replace by drawing a card from the 47 remaining in the virtual deck.
The games require more skill—or at least a basic understanding of probabilities—than the slot machines do. As such, they appeal to people who want to have some sense of exerting control over the outcome. They saw, for instance, patrons going more often for four of a kind than the royal flush, a rarer but more lucrative hand, and they adjusted the machines accordingly. Video poker also offers its own version of losses disguised as wins. Whatever the exact figure, the house odds make it such that if a player plays long enough, she will eventually lose her money.
T echnological innovations have not only rendered electronic gaming machines wildly profitable; they have also, according to experts, made them more addictive. A crucial element in modern gambling machines is speed. Individual hands or spins can be completed in just three or four seconds. For many gambling addicts, the zone itself becomes more desirable even than winning.
Players have gone for 14, 15, 16 hours or more playing continuously. They have become so absorbed in the machines that they left their young children unattended in cars, wet themselves without noticing, and neglected to eat for hours. Casinos and game designers have come up with many ways to keep patrons at their machines and playing rapidly.
The chairs are ergonomically designed so that someone can sit comfortably for long stretches. Winnings can be converted back to credits or printed on vouchers to be redeemed later. Waitresses come by to take drink orders, obviating the need for players to get up at all. For now, we need to consider choosing slot machines that will most likely improve our overall odds even more. How do we select a good slot machine? Well, we have a plan.
But, try not to be. The odds of winning for a slot machine is a limited number of settings from the manufacturer. Besides understanding limited settings are available, it may help to understand that slot machines have two odds of winning to determine:. Why is understanding these two types of odds significant when choosing slot machines? Because winning slot machines come in all jackpot sizes. Winning many jackpots this way is bankroll cycling. It may not seem very satisfactory, but whether it does or not depends entirely on what your gambling goals are.
One type of gambling goal, earning maximum complimentary gifts, is most often achieved via bankroll cycling. Another point about setting slot machine odds is, how often they change? In my experience, older-style casinos change their slot machine odds every days.
Newer-style casinos can change their slot machine odds whenever the machine has been idle for 15 minutes or more, without a players club card inserted or the machine temporarily locked by a slot attendant. Only you can decide how much bankroll you want to risk gambling. I highly recommend bringing only as much money you can safely afford to lose comfortably. Bankrolls quite literally determine which slot machines you can play.
Whatever bankroll you have limits which slot machines can be played and how much it can be played. Slot machines typically must run for a while before wins become more likely. Yes, wins can occur at the first press of a button. They can also happen within the first few bets, where casinos offer a taste.
But, usually, they need to run for a while. Trust your instincts! So, again, you determine how much bankroll you can afford to spend. Now, take that number and divide it by bets. In such a way, the right choice is a 2-credit, quarter-denomination slot machine.
Or, a credit, penny-denomination slot machine. Always remember to play maximum credits for the highest odds of winning. Meaning, your casino may not have a 2-maximum-credit quarter or maximum-credit penny machines. But, perhaps they have a 1-maximum-credit quarter or less-thanmaximum-credits penny machines. Such slot machines would provide more than bets of play, which is going in the right direction! When choosing a slot machine to play, a crucial aspect of winning is to review its paytable before playing.
Located somewhere on a slot machine is one or more tables showing the number of credits won if specific combinations of reel symbols appear in the pay line after the player makes a bet. Below is a relatively generic example of a paytable.
A year-old changed his life forever when visiting Las Vegas to support his basketball team. He arrived at the strip with a couple of hours to kill before having to make his way to the game. So, in true Vegas fashion, he decided to settle down and play on a couple of slots games. Well, winning it twice of course. That was the case for a year-old woman who played on the Wheel of Fortune machine at Palace Station. The majority of people that live in Nevada typically gamble away from the strip.
One user on Quora , who is a local, claimed that the best advice for those looking for a win is to bet away from the strip. As well as that, she claimed that you should always bet the maximum bet that is allowed and should opt to play the newer machines rather than the older ones. She also claimed that casinos on Boulder Highway are where she has gained most of her returns on slots titles. Of course, not all of us will be able to fly over to Las Vegas to play some of the lucrative casino slot games that are available.
However, the advancements in technology means that you will be able to play on some of the most popular slots on Vegas sites such as Caesars and MGM. Now, take that number and divide it by bets. In such a way, the right choice is a 2-credit, quarter-denomination slot machine.
Or, a credit, penny-denomination slot machine. Always remember to play maximum credits for the highest odds of winning. Meaning, your casino may not have a 2-maximum-credit quarter or maximum-credit penny machines. But, perhaps they have a 1-maximum-credit quarter or less-thanmaximum-credits penny machines.
Such slot machines would provide more than bets of play, which is going in the right direction! When choosing a slot machine to play, a crucial aspect of winning is to review its paytable before playing. Located somewhere on a slot machine is one or more tables showing the number of credits won if specific combinations of reel symbols appear in the pay line after the player makes a bet.
Below is a relatively generic example of a paytable. The figure shows reel combinations along with their jackpot depending on the number of credits bet. In general, the top row is the maximum jackpot of the machine. Not every reel combination and its associated jackpot are usually shown in a paytable.
Other reel combinations not shown in the top rows are also presented in the paytable area. Slot machines with WILD symbols can represent it with a myriad of other possible reel symbols. A final element of paytable example provided is specific information on winning reel combinations, which can include an indication of how the slot machine operates during play.
The bottom row of symbol explains that that slot machine has reel symbols which will move after the reels stop momentarily. Such additional features may not activate until the maximum credits are bet. It can sometimes be difficult, or impossible, to determine this. Most slot machines with bonus rounds will provide at least some information about it within its paytable. In less colorful language, avoid playing slot machines with terrible odds of winning. First and foremost, understand when choosing slot machines that there are indeed terrible slot machines at a casino.
By merely avoiding them whenever possible, on average, your long-term gambling return will improve. By using this approach, any slot machine can be compared to any other slot machine. Example: In the paytable above, the maximum jackpot is 2, credits with three maximum credits.
Repeat this calculation for slot machines of interest. The size of your available bankroll, whatever it is, is an essential factor in this selection process. Book Your Consultation…. The next step on your journey to improving slots performance is Identifying Gambling Goals. I sincerely hope you find it both enjoyable and useful.
Not only will you immediately receive a great list of online resources, but also other tips, tricks, and slots-related articles as I post them. With only a few openings available most weeks, this is a strictly limited opportunity! Have fun, be safe, and make good choices! By Jon H.
The odds of winning aren't too bad. You play against the dealer; more people can play at one time, but each is only trying to beat the dealer, not each other. The person whose hand comes closest to 21 without going over which is called a "bust" wins.
Winning blackjack takes luck and a relatively small amount of skill. The dealer relies as much on luck as the players do, so the odds of winning are pretty even. In most casinos, the advantage to the dealer is about one percent. If you want to brush up on your blackjack skills, check out these Blackjack Tips for Beginners from Business Insider.
Craps is a table game played with dice. One person is the "shooter," who rolls the dice, and the other players make wagers on the results of that roll. On the first roll, called "coming out," the shooter wins on a seven or an eleven. If the shooter rolls any other number, that number is now the "point. The simplest bet to make is: Will the shooter win or lose on his roll? You can also place other bets. For example, you can bet that the shooter will hit another number before he rolls a seven.
If you make more specific bets, your odds of winning drop but your payouts rise. You can read more about craps strategies and rules in PokerNews. Roulette is a wheel with 38 numbers on it. The numbers 1 - 36 are either red or black and the number 0 and in American casinos, also 00 in green.
The croupier, as a roulette dealer is called, spins the wheel and the ball falls on one of the numbers. There are several ways to place roulette bets. You can increase the payout — but lower your odds — by betting on specific numbers or ranges of numbers like "1 to 12" or "1 to 18". Note that the three games with the best odds of winning still have odds that mean that you'll win less than half the time.
That means to walk away with more money than you started with, you need a good amount of luck. The two casino games that are hardest to win also happen to be two of the most popular games to play. They're easy to understand and require little to no skill, so a lot of people play, making lots of money for the casinos.
Now, there's nothing wrong with playing these games if you enjoy them. After all, you went to a casino to have fun, right? But keep in mind that the chances are high that you'll lose the money you play with. The segment that the wheel stops on is the amount you'll receive if you win.
The Joker offers a 36x payout but has a 24 percent edge for the house. You play slots by putting money into a slot machine and pulling a lever or pushing a button to spin a wheel. Depending on where the wheel lands, you win or lose. The higher the percentage figure, the better the return. Of course, you would need to sit at one slot game for weeks on end to prove the math. In reality, you are only visiting the slot for a tiny fraction of its lifespan, hence the way you can get lucky and be the recipient of a significant win.
With that all said and done, if you prefer picking up more regular, small wins, then slots with a higher RTP are the ones to go for. They tend to be lower volatility, meaning you get more small prizes, but the bigger wins are infrequent. In high volatility slots, you might not bag many small wins, but now and then, you land a big payout. Typically, these will be jackpot slots. Armed with this knowledge about RTP percentages, we can soon find some slots that smart gamblers will seek out.
The good news is that some of these are available at TwinSpires Casino. This is not a definitive list — you might find better slot machine odds elsewhere — but these are the more popular games. In contrast, these are some examples of slots with a lower payout percentage.
Although they do not offer the best odds, when they do pay out, they pay out big. Instead, you can use our list of comparable top fives. However, nothing beats trying the games out for yourself. Online casinos like TwinSpires Casino have hundreds and hundreds of slots for you to choose from.