Just How Rigged Is The Casino: An Average Week On The Las Vegas Strip

Tyler Durden's picture

The debate over just how rigged algos have made the market may be raging, but when it comes to riggedness, there is no debate that nothing beats Las Vegas where in the long (and not so long) run the house always wins. But how much does it win, and what games provide the house with the biggest profit? The following two charts answer these pertinent questions for anyone who may be planning a trip to the city of Lost Wages.

As Vizual Statistix explains, for those who want to stay away from the most rigged games, your best bet is the $100 slot machines, where the casinos take "only" 3.6% of your money. And those concerned about the magnitude of money lost rather than the percentage, you may want to move over to the penny slots, where you’ll still lose only 11.8%.

For the sports-betting fans, betting on baseball gives slightly better odds than basketball and football. One is much less likely to lose money betting on those sports than on racing.

For the tables fans, bingo is the game-o as here the house only takes in 8.8% of the wagers there, followed by blackjack (11.1%). Most punishing by far is 3-card poker, where gamblers lose an average of 32.5% of their money.



And keeping the rigged stock market analogy, there is liquidity and then there is churn. The chart below shows in which games casinos would prefer you gamble: sorted by revenues for the house, the most lucrative by far is Baccarat (thank you habitual Chinese gamblers), where the casino revenue is the biggest amounting to nearly $30 million on average per week. Blackjack fans who can never catch a break may be surprised to learn that their favorite game is in fourth position generating "only" $15.5 million of the revenue, below such honeypots as penny slots, which bring in on average a whopping $20 million weekly.



However, one thing the charts above certainly do not capture is the fun factor: because at the end of the day if given the choice of losing one's money in a rigged Las Vegas, or in the just as rigged stock market, it should be absolutely no contest.

Source: Nevada Gaming Board

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Amish Hacker's picture

My investment advice: play the penny slots while you drink for free.

Apathetic or Whatever's picture

I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol, and wild women.  The other half I wasted.


WC Field

Troll Magnet's picture

There are casinos in Vegas? I thought it was just full of bunny ranches?
Huh. Learn something new everyday I guess.

Fish Gone Bad's picture

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.  Unless of course it comes home with you.  In that case, go see your doctor and he will give you a shot for it.

crazybob369's picture

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; especially your money.

Phuk u's picture

A Room service waiter walks into a penthouse suite and finds empty champagne bottles,

wads of money lying on the bed and Miss World (Mary Stavin) going into the bathroom

and asks George Best 'Where did it all go wrong Georgie' ?

mayhem_korner's picture

play the penny slots while you drink for free.


The frequency with which the cocktail waitresses pass through the penny slot arcade is not the same as at the craps table.  Just sayin...

saltedGold's picture

Tip the waitress $5 for your "free drink" and see what kind of service you get :)

buzzsaw99's picture

better make that $20. did that $5 thing at mgm, never saw her again.

the service sucked so bad EVERYWHERE on the strip last time i was there. i'll never go back and even if i do i'll bring my own liquor.

DaveyJones's picture

speaking of plastic money, prostitutes and backrooms -

Book Review: The Gold Cartel by Dimitri Speck

May 6, 2014 | Author
redpill's picture

Bringing one's own liquor for a few primer cocktails in your room is not a bad idea.  Makes the wait for your first one down stairs a lot more pleasant.  If you play video poker you can find a bar with the machine in the bar itself, you get drinks a lot faster that way since there's a bartender in front of you, and if you take care of them they take care of you.  Frankly I don't think it's worth staying on the Strip anymore, as you note the service is not what it used to be, and the odds have never been worse.  

crazybob369's picture

Couldn't agree with you more Red.  Was in Laughlin recently and after dinner I parked my butt at the bar in one of the lounges at the Aquarius and I had a drink in front of me before I had even played my first hand.  The machines had a great payoff schedule, the bartender was a sweetheart (they're not suppose to give you more than one drink every half hour, but she managed to slip me one every 20 minutes or so).  After a couple of hours I left her a $20 tip and walked (wobbled) away with a couple of hundred dollars in winnings.  Laughlin may be kind of boring, but for gambling it beats the hell out of the Vegas strip.

I heard somewhere that Caesars Entertainment took on so much debt to acquire all their properties that they are bleeding red like a stuck pig.  Probably only a matter of time before they default.  So instead of cutting back, they are screwing their patrons by tightening up all the games, and building a monster wheel, which no one is going to ride after the novelty wears off.  Sounds like a government operation to me.

J in Vegas's picture

As a bartender for the said company above, they are hurting for cash. But the machines are set all the same throughout all of their casino's. I bartend at one so I only know the video poker machines, but all of them are set at 94 to 97% payback. The problem is most players are stupid or (drunk) and play wrong. The high roller wheel is alright, the LINQ below is much better with pretty cool bars and such.

And please.... Tips really stands for Tips Insure Prompt Service. The best tip is infront of the service. Its a gamble cuz some bartenders are lame, but the overall service is usually better when we know what sort of person we are dealing with.

If any of zero hedge is in Vegas during the graveyard hours of 2am to 10am Wed thru Sunday, find me at.......

J in Vegas

crazybob369's picture

I'll be there this week to attend the money show J.  Which casino, I'll look you up.

Gold Eyed Cat's picture

I held a video poker owner/operators license in Louisiana for a few years before they towed all the casino boats in.  We ran 33 machines in 11 locations.  Good times!  In case anyone is interested on how those 98% payout numbers really work, here's the lowdown.  When you place your bet that money is considered a loss.  So a push (free spin) is counted as a 100% win.

MontgomeryScott's picture

J's link was a WSJ article discussing the finances of THIS company:


I didn't know Money put shows on. I dunno, maybe strippers with dollar bills covering all the good places (instead of pasties and g-strings)?

DaveyJones's picture

my family did some reunions there for a while. We could rent the cabana out at the pool with the fridge and my brother and I would go buy stuff offsight and sneak it in in backpacks. They finally figured it out when they noticed drunk guys and no bills.  

the freakiest trip was the one we had scheduled during 911. They rescheduled for us of course and we flew in the very first day the Feds let us. No one was there and every video monitor on the strip had the image of the american flag. The staff seemed depressed because there were no tips and they were cutting hours. It was like a bad Charleton Heston movie.

Bad analogy, Vegas is always a bad Charleton Heston movie

DESMO_RR's picture

I used to live out there and played A LOT of video poker. Never on the strip. Just the local places and the Station Casinos. When the economy started to cool off, the change in payouts was immediate!!!! Literally overnight it became impossible to win almost anything. I quit playing very quickly after that.

sleigher's picture

I don't know about you guys but I play to win.  No drinking while playing...




It works if you are patient and study the dealer.

MountainsRoam's picture

Since most of the big casinos in Vegas have destroyed what little odds in you favor you had on Blackjack, I am done with it.. instead of paying 3 to 2 for Blackjack, and changing over to 6 to 5, they have totally ruined it for me.. I am done with any casino that has gone to this payout.. My guess is there will be lots of bankrupt hotel/casinos in Vegas soon..

Stuck on Zero's picture

Never gamble on the strip.  The odds are really bad.  Go off-strip to casinos that offer nothing but gambling.  The best odds are at the dollar slots.

The worst odds are at the slots in the airport.



Hippocratic Oaf's picture

Went 2 weeks ago on Virgin points and free room at Caesars (thanks to AC gambling wife and mother that uses her card).

Basically broke even for 4 days of sin.

They only got us on room service.

All in all, one of our better trips.


and Vegas was packed, only a few tables were not in use. 

mkkby's picture

Ever noticed how EVERYONE who goes there BREAKS EVEN?  Funny how that happens, yet they make enough to build those fantastic hotels and still profit in the billions.

mc225's picture

it could be that it's one thing to break even, and perhaps quite another to recoup the vig. at least in sports betting...   once, i lived there for a few months, and noticed that the locals aren't as gung ho to gamble as the tourists. it was quite something to see all of the tourists flooding the crosswalks downtown on a friday afternoon. anyway, get away from the tourist traps/strip and it's quite an interesting city.


August's picture

Vegas is a lot more fun when you wear a tux.

But then people expect you to act like a gentleman, more or less.

Lewshine's picture


I was a dealer on the Strip back in the 80's. The hardest players to beat were the drunks and coke heads. The MIT card counters and self-proclaimed professional gambler I could bankrupt in three shuffles. Keep your advice and your day job son.

sleigher's picture

All I am saying is the method in the video works.  Last june myself and my boss (out for a conference) were both up 1k.


You may be good at cards, but roulette takes patience and understanding.  Doesn't work on all tables or dealers.  I spend time finding the right place.

I am not your son.  Got it?

Ignatius's picture

Vegas wasn't built by winners.

Just sayin'

DaveyJones's picture

that's not how DC works, why should vegas be different?

BustainMovealota's picture

Dude,  Look around... you're not going to win.

JuliaS's picture

My friends go to casino's to eat. The food there is good and is essentially subsidized by all the regular visitors. If you don't play and don't mind the noise, they make a decent alternative to restaurants.

insanelysane's picture

Skimming trash barrels???

esum's picture

better... pretend to play the penny slots and drink free

drendebe10's picture

Isnt that Joan Rivers standing there with the Hangover guys?

maskone909's picture

no limit holdem ftw. just play big hands and your gaurunteed to take all the wayne newton fans money

CPL's picture

There is actually math all around on how a casino operates.  They would never open one if they didn't make sure the math works in their favour.  Even poker, which has it's own rigging behind it.  The math I do know comes from some online gambling sites that I've watched get built, roulette is probably the simplest way to break it down.  It goes like this:

The player's chances of winning in a casino game and the rate at which he wins or loses money depends on the game, the rules in effect for that game, and for some games his level of skill. The amount of money the player can expect to win or lose in the long run - if the bet is made over and over again - is called the player's wager expected value (EV), or expectation. When the player's wager expectation is negative, he will lose money in the long run. For a $5 bet on the color red in roulette, for example, the expectation is -$0.263. On the average the player will lose just over a quarter for each $5 bet on red.

When the wager expectation is viewed from the casino's perspective (i.e., the negative of the player's expectation) and expressed as a percentage, you have the house advantage. For the roulette example, the house advantage is 5.26% ($0.263 divided by $5). The formal calculation is as follows:

EV = (+5)(18/38) + (-5)(20/38) = -0.263
(House Advantage = 0.263/5 = 5.26%)

When this EV calculation is performed for a 1-unit amount, the negative of the resulting value is the house edge. Here are the calculations for bets on a single-number in double-zero and single-zero roulette.

Double-zero roulette (single number bet):
EV = (+35)(1/38) + (-1)(37/38) = -0.053
(House Advantage = 5.3%)

Single-zero roulette (single number bet):
EV = (+35)(1/37) + (-1)(36/37) = -0.027
(House Advantage = 2.7%)

To summarize: House advantage and theoretical win percentage are the same thing, hold percentage is win over drop, win percentage is win over handle, win percentage approaches the house advantage as the number of plays increases, and hold percentage is equivalent to win percentage for slots but not table games.

· Hold % = Win/Drop
· Win % (actual) = Win/Handle
· H.A. = Theoretical Win % = Limit(Actual Win %) = Limit(Win/Handle)
· Hold Percentage ¹ House Edge

Even with comps, which have a math formula to themselves. 

Earning Potential = Average Bet ´ Hours Played ´ Decisions per Hour ´ House Advantage

For example, suppose a baccarat player bets $500 per hand for 12 hours at 60 hands per hour. Using a house advantage of 1.2%, this player's worth to the casino is $4,320 (500 ´ 12 ´ 60 ´ .012). A player who bets $500 per spin for 12 hours in double-zero roulette at 60 spins per hour would be worth about $19,000 (500 ´ 12 ´ 60 ´ .053).

Regardless of the optics of winning.  The house always has the upper hand because they control the single most important variable.  The money supply available to the table.  The house wins because not because of skill or luck, the house has got more time, a bigger bankroll that it's customers and the age old gamblers dilemma to feed off of.

CPL's picture

BTW the math can also be used the other direction to give the player the advantage to un-game the system in the player's favour.  It's not cheating either, it's just leveraging math that the house is unaware of because they, like all corporate businesses, have indulged in poor business direction planning.  In a casino's case, they opted for more managers and directors when they should have been hiring more ground floor accountants, mathematicians and security personnel to close the holes in their business and money management processes.


The corporate casino's btw are bleeding out like stuck pigs and for the first time ever posting losses.  Which spells out BIG trouble for anyone that runs an casino. 

Let's break down what a Casino really is.  A Casino isn't a gaming house, it's a bank

The games at the tables are just window dressing for what a casino really does.  Which is manage money for it's games that are always in the houses favour, as long as the house has money to loan the table/game.  When a casino loses money one quarter after another, and it's business is managing money.  It loses power to conduct it's business because a casino's business is supplying all those games with capital to take money from people using nifty math.

If anyone wants to know the magic formula, under the yellow pages there should be Universities and Services under Schools and Education, call the math department and obtain a PhD.  If you run a casino and are getting slaughtered, go hire people that come out of that department.  Simple as that.

buzzsaw99's picture

thanks for the link. the text and comments are interesting.

CPL's picture

No problem. 

The last time the Casino's shit the bed was in 2007 when the Feds secretly bailed them out courtesy of Bush and co with the some of the first TARP proceedings. 

Not the familia/mafia casino's though, they hung them out to dry and then bought them all out for pennies on the dollar in 2008.  Fastest corporate take over of a single market segment in recorded history.  Personally I'm surprised that their weren't more cement shoes fitted to CEO's, but the marketing and positioning was convincing enough to sneak it under the radar.

Bush and Co corporately owned Casino's, which today is the entire LV strip, thrived from the TARP and QE by laundering money through the stock market.  Today a single company owns every single one of them, the Disney media and entertainment conglomerate through business units in their down-line.  Every last one of the Bush and Co own a piece of that poisonous investment cheddar.

Oh well, math is a vicious bitch when ignoring the realities of how the math applies to a casino or any problem, eventually just end up stealing from one's own self after everyone else has been robbed.

Today though, state side casino's are bleeding to death.  Delaware has bailed their casino out with taxpayer money every quarter for three years.  How stupid is that?  The local state government takes real capital and throws taxpayer money into a casino for a payback (I know it's really fucking stupid).


...As if a casino is a public function like roads, grabage collection, schools, hospitals, traffic light, cops, fire fighters, medical services and electricity.  However the state is too stupid and oblivious to the math that operates a casino.  Sort of like they've got no business being in the gambling business because they don't have a clue what they are doing.

Oh well, it all turns out as all gambling adventures do.  10 people pay 1 guy to win their money, same odds as successfully managing stocks.  What does that say about the legitimacy of a stock market, I'll leave that to the philosophers.  I think the motto though is let a fool and their money soon be parted because it's better to let a fool have their way to fully understand the problem.

Game on.

Clycntct's picture

Good stuff. Thanks for all the info.

CPL's picture

We all watched it happen during the Bush adminstration but most people were too busy and distracted chasing rising home value and getting 'rich' off of them.  Then they setup some poor stooge (Obama) to hang for it.  I think President Obama has done the best with what he's been given, considering the pig fucker before him handed over a shit sandwich.

Nobody was paying attention to it as it happened.  Oldest con in the book.  The three card monte/shell game and they stole the entire mafia's money management portfolio under the guise of a credit reset. 

So if you are a 'wiseguy', lost your house and flat ass broke with the rest of us since 2007...

Game on.

Yes_Questions's picture





Kennedy may have been killed by the mob, but some say it was Bush.

Bush broke the mob, mob kills Bush?





Handful of Dust's picture

I did not know that CPL so thanks.  I hope in my next life I'm a "Beal-ee" instead of the forced "Bail-or".

Bailing out miscreants really sucks..

mkkby's picture

I call bullshit.  Look at this comment from the article. 

"The net loss came after the casinos paid expenses. The loss does not take into account deduction for federal income taxes and accounting for extraordinary expenses. Most of the losses statewide were on paper, reflecting expenses taken for financial restructurings in 2012."

In othere words, these are ACCOUNTING LOSSES, not CASH LOSSES.  I'll bet they are just gaming their taxes.  They make a lot of money, pay big bonuses and "expenses", then report a loss and pay no tax.  ZH readers should be smarter.

CPL's picture

Then you should remortgage your home to the tits and go whole hog.  Money talks, bullshit walks. 

Drifter's picture

"They make a lot of money, pay big bonuses and "expenses", then report a loss and pay no tax. "

That's SOP for all business, from guys mowing lawns to biggest corps.  Something wage slaves can't do.  More than offsets "self employment tax" if done right.

Tax code is skewed in favor of business.  But only business owners know it.  You have to run a business a while to see it. 

It's why self-employed person can come out as well making 70k as wage slave making 100k.

BustainMovealota's picture

" They would never open one if they didn't make sure the math works in their favour."  -  Of course not.  You have to remember these folks have been in business for a long time.  They know exactly what they are doing and are experts at taking you money.  The dumbass that thinks " its just fun" is the exact individual they are trying to attract.  The true dumbass.

Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

guy on left = photo bomber