By now, most of the gamblers who visit Las Vegas every year know the Strip is a tourist trap of sorts. Sure, you’ll enjoy world-class dining options and an endless array of entertainment, but casinos there are notorious for goosing up their own house edge.
The traditional 3:2 payout for landing a natural 21 in blackjack is watered down to a 6:5 rate, more than tripling the house’s inherent edge in that classic card game. Roulette players will almost never find single-zero European wheels.
As for the slots, players have long reported that machines found along Las Vegas Boulevard are typically “tighter” than elsewhere in Sin City. The idea of tight and loose machines is actually a myth, but tight and loose casinos are quite real.
With that in mind, I put together a list of the seven worst casinos for tight slot machines on the Las Vegas Strip, which you can read down below.
If you’re planning on gambling outside The Strip, no worries! I also hit the worst tight slots off the Las Vegas Strip, so be sure to check out it to give you an idea of all your options.
A Quick Look at the Numbers
How do we know these are the tightest slots casinos on the Strip? Well, thanks to the payback percentage surveys conducted by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) every year, you’ll see that our recommendations are based off of fact.
Las Vegas Slot Machine Payback Percentage Rates (by Coin Denomination and Region)
1¢ Slot Machines
|North Las Vegas||90.88%|
5¢ Slot Machines
|North Las Vegas||95.29%|
25¢ Slot Machines
|North Las Vegas||96.41%|
$1 Slot Machines
|North Las Vegas||95.39%|
$1 Megabucks Machines
|North Las Vegas||55.52%|
All Slot Machines
|North Las Vegas||93.53%|
Below, you’ll find the seven worst places on the Strip where tight slots are the norm, based on each venue’s overall average payback percentage rate.
1 – The Venetian
Owned and operated by billionaire ghoul and anti-online gambling pariah Sheldon Adelson, the Venetian is the centerpiece of his Las Vegas Sands Corp.
And while Sands isn’t as invasive as fellow casino corporations MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, which collectively own most of the properties along the Strip, Adelson’s greed still seeps through into every aspect of the Venetian. That includes the slot parlors, where players are up against the steepest climb anywhere on the Strip by virtue of an atrocious 86.66% average payback rate.
For comparison’s sake, that figure is nearly 5% worse than the Strip’s overall average of is 91.47%. And remember, the average is already lower than everywhere else in Las Vegas. So, unless you’re playing slots at McCarran Airport (85.02%), you simply can’t find a worse place to play slots anywhere in Sin City than the Venetian.
2 – Bellagio Hotel and Casino
Like the Venetian, the Bellagio disguises its intentions by using ornate marble floors, vaulted ceilings, art exhibits, and gold plating to make visitors feel in awe of their good fortune.
And while staying at the Bellagio is certainly a true luxury experience, gambling here is a losing bet based on the slot selection’s 87.42% payback average. Don’t be fooled by the expansive offerings, which include more than 2,300 machines for one of the Strip’s largest slot lineups.
Quantity doesn’t beat quality in this case, so while you’ll likely find all of your favorite games here, the Bellagio carefully balances them with tight machines to ensure its property-wide payback rate is as low as possible.
This is likely because the Bellagio’s corporate overlords at MGM Resorts have studied the numbers in and out, so they know their average guest has enough expendable income to weather the storm. In other words, if you’re wealthy enough to afford a week at the Bellagio, maybe you just won’t notice that the slots there are among the tightest in town.
3 – Mandalay Bay
Another property owned by MGM Resorts, the Mandalay Bay is a curious inclusion on this list. Other than the gold-plated windows that give off a distinctive vibe, the Mandalay Bay isn’t exactly on par with the Venetian or the Bellagio in terms of luxury accommodations.
Even so, this eminently average casino still tries to gouge customers with a low 88.87% payback rate on slots.
You might save a few bucks trading out your Bellagio reservations for a Mandalay Bay stay, but the slot gameplay here is still just as awful.
4 – Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
The flagship property of Caesars Entertainment is, obviously, Caesars Palace. It’s one of the original monuments of Las Vegas excess found on the Strip.
And sure enough, Caesars Palace is home to the award-winning, world-class Bacchanal Buffet, a thriving poker room, and top-notch amenities across the board.
If it wasn’t for that pesky 89.05% average payback rate on slot play, I’d probably stay here every time I head out to the desert for a little fun. Unfortunately, that payback rate is far too low to be considered competitive, so do yourself a favor and consider Caesars Palace the perfect place to shop, eat, and catch a show—but never to spin the slots.
5 – The Mirage
I used to love the Mirage back in the 1990s, when famed tiger tamers Siegfried and Roy wowed audiences nightly and the poker room was home to World Champion pros.
Things have changed though, as they always do. Today, the MGM Resorts-owned Mirage is widely considered to be “middle of the road” fare for casinos on the Strip. Everything at the Mirage is just “meh,” right down to the 89.30% average payback rate for slot players.
6 – Treasure Island
Another holdover from the ‘90s glory days, Treasure Island (or “TI” after a disastrous rebranding effort) was sold by MGM Resorts to billionaire Phil Ruffin in 2008.
And like any billionaire worth his salt, Ruffin quickly set to work stripping his new acquisition for parts, swapping out loose slots for tight machines that combine for an 89.32% average payback.
Today, the Treasure Island experience can best be described as a bargain basement affair, with Ruffin showing no qualms about underserving his customers to better serve himself.
7 – Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
Last but not least, Harrah’s is one of the “middle of the road” offerings under the Caesars Entertainment corporate umbrella.
Everything here is fine, no better and no worse, which seems to be what Harrah’s is all about.
I might pass through while looking for a decent meal, or maybe some shopping with the wife, but I wouldn’t be caught dead competing against Harrah’s low 89.325 average payback for slots.
The Strip deserves its title as the world’s gambling capital, and without it, Las Vegas would still be a dusty outpost seldom visited by outsiders. Neon lights, superstar entertainers, and unique tourist destinations combine to make strolling down Las Vegas Boulevard a once-in-a-lifetime experience for newcomers.
On the other hand, corporatization has turned the Strip into a money pit for budget-minded visitors and sharp gamblers alike. When you know the score regarding payback percentage comparisons, playing slots at the well-known casino resorts listed above simply doesn’t make financial sense.