Our annual guide to where players can ﬁnd the best slot returns in the nation
By Frank Legato
In 2022, most slot players know the meaning of “loose slots.” It means the slots that oﬀer the highest return-to-player percentage (RTP)—the highest payback percentage.
For slot enthusiasts, the search for loose slots never ends. When one plays slot games online, it is normally easy to ﬁnd the highest returns, since most online casinos list the theoretical payback percentage right along with each game. In the traditional casino world, though, it’s not that easy. Physical slot games don’t list the RTP of the games, so other than video poker, where a smart player knows the return by looking at the pay schedule, one must rely on statistics showing actual returns by casino.
Our sister publication, Casino Player, started gathering those statistics back in the early 1990s. Public information on monthly slot “hold”—that is, the portion of wagers held by the casino—were available, often broken down by denomination. In the early days of Player, the editors began taking those statistics and ﬂip-ﬂopping them to show the overall payback percentages of slots, by casino or by region, however it was broken down by each jurisdiction. Those are the charts you ﬁnd in the back of this publication.
Somewhere along the line, it became popular to refer to high-paying slots as “loose,” and stingy slots as “tight.” So, Casino Player decided to gather the statistics for an entire year, and in 1994, published the ﬁrst “Loosest Slots Awards.” The awards, which six years ago moved over to Strictly Slots, had a great eﬀect for the beneﬁt of players. Casinos began to advertise their Loosest Slots Awards; it became a badge of honor and bragging point for a property.
For players, the annual report gives a much more accurate picture of where to ﬁnd the most generous payouts on slots than looking at any one month’s results, which can be skewed by unusual lucky runs, particularly in the higher denominations. For instance, you will sometimes see monthly returns exceeding 100 percent for a denomination. That usually means a casino got slammed by lucky players on high-end slots that particular month.
Twelve months is plenty of time for all the games to achieve their true payback percentages.
So, welcome to our 29th Loosest Slots report. Studying this report will show you the casinos that oﬀer players the best overall return, despite the fact that players still love the low-paying penny slots. Our 2021 Loosest Slots Awards report on data logged over the 2021 calendar year. Before we get to the winners, we always like to provide answers to the most-frequently-asked questions about our report.
First of all, not all casinos are included in this report. We are restricted to reporting on the statistics that are publicly available, and for the most part, that includes all commercial casinos and many of the largest Native American casinos. Because Indian casinos are not subject to required reporting to state regulatory agencies, many of those casinos consider the statistics proprietary information, and do not report them publicly.
For instance, this year, the state of Illinois stopped publicly reporting slot percentages. This is why Illinois casinos are not included in this year’s report. Our apologies if your favorite casino is not included.
Next, we are only able to report the numbers that are reported by the casinos. That is why you will not ﬁnd denominations broken out in many locations—such as New Jersey, where regulators stopped reporting separate denominations six years ago.
Finally, the way the numbers are reported publicly is the reason video poker paybacks are not broken out in this report. No jurisdiction reports separate numbers for slots and video poker. However, you’ll ﬁnd that the casinos with the highest overall paybacks consistently oﬀer the highest-returning pay schedules on video poker.
And The Winners Are…
This year marks a changing of the guard for the loosest slots in the nation. For 13 years running, Reno, Nevada, got the nod for the loosest slots in the U.S. This year, the honor goes to the Nassau OTB at Resorts World New York City, returning a remarkable 97.3 percent overall on slots.
Other than the single oﬀ-track betting parlor at Resorts World, Nevada remains the home of the nation’s loosest slots. However, Reno didn’t even make the top three last year. The Loosest Slots award for Nevada goes to the Boulder Strip, the casinos along the Boulder Highway in Las Vegas that include Boulder Station, Sam’s Town, the Cannery and Arizona Charlie’s. This district came in at 93.83 percent.
The Nevada crown actually was a virtual tie. The “Balance of County” group of casinos—the Clark County casinos outside of the Las Vegas Strip and Boulder Highway, such as the Orleans, Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch—landed the No. 2 spot at 93.82 percent, a mere hundredth of a percentage point behind the Boulder Strip. Third place went to Mesquite, close behind at 93.65 percent.
Outside of the New York location, the three top Nevada districts returned higher than any other casino or region in the nation.
The closest any jurisdiction came to these groups in the Loosest Slots Awards was Florida’s parimutuel racetrack casinos, with Hialeah Park returning 93.41 percent overall, followed closely by Flagler Dog Track & Magic City Casino at 93.40 percent.
Elsewhere, in Atlantic City, the top two casinos for Loosest Slots are unchanged from last year— Harrah’s Resort at 91.58 percent and Borgata at 90.97 percent. Third place, which belonged to Caesars last year, goes to Hard Rock Atlantic City, at 90.68 percent.
Connecticut’s two casinos are once again very close in returns, with Mohegan Sun (91.66 percent) edging out Foxwoods (91.55 percent), swapping the crown from last year.
In Indiana, the Loosest Slots repeated, with newly renamed Horseshoe Indianapolis (formerly Indiana Grand) returning 90.37 percent. In Missouri, Hollywood Casino (90.84 percent) edged out River City (90.83 percent), another virtual tie. Last year’s winner, Ameristar St. Charles, came in third at 90.75 percent.
The Louisiana Loosest Slots crown also changed hands, with Lake Charles (90.77 percent) edging out Baton Rouge (90.32 percent). Last year’s winner, Shreveport, did not make the top three.
Jack Cleveland (92.24 percent) repeats its Loosest Slot crown for Ohio. The crown changed hands in Pennsylvania, where Wind Creek Bethlehem (90.68 percent) edged out Valley Forge Casino (90.6 percent). Last year’s winner, Parx, came in third at 90.4 percent.
Our congratulations to the Loosest Slots winners. You’ve proven that you care about your players enough to oﬀer the highest returns.