At Las Vegas Casinos, Gamblers Are Paying More and Winning Less


They say the house always wins. And it looks like some new changes will keep things that way.

At some Las Vegas casinos, the odds of winning just got lower, and the buy-in more expensive. A new report in the Wall Street Journal said that Las Vegas casinos are making subtle changes that put the house at an advantage, such as raising the minimum bet for blackjack during busy times and decreasing the payout for winning hands.

The outlet reports that Caesars Entertainment Chief Executive Tom Reeg told Wall Street analysts it's a move to make Las Vegas a destination for more upscale visitors.

“You're bringing in higher value customers, and we're already full,” Reeg reportedly said. “So, you're kicking out the lowest end. I see no reason that that needs to stop or would stop.”

According to Nevada Gaming Control Board data, blackjack players lost nearly $1 billion to casinos on the Strip in 2022 — the second-highest recorded loss since 2007.

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John and Kristina Mehaffey, owners of the news and data company Vegas Advantage, told the WSJ that blackjack historically has a payout of 3:2 (meaning the player gets $3 for every $2 they bet), however, two-thirds of casinos on the Strip are issuing payouts of 6:5 (meaning players get a $12 payout for every $10 they bet, as opposed to $15 with a 3:2 ratio).

Among the casinos that have reduced their payout to gamblers are MGM Grand and Caesar's Palace, the WSJ reported.

While casinos on the Strip have been raking in record profits ($8.3 billion in 2022 according to Nevada Gaming Control Board data), some experts warn that the practice of favoring the house may hurt business in the long run.

“If you go into a casino and gamble, and you lose your money fairly quickly, almost every time, you don't feel you're getting the bang for your buck,” Bill Zender, a casino consultant, told the WSJ.

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