Casinos on the Vegas Strip are making it costlier to play and harder to win.
Payouts are lower for winning blackjack hands. Bets on some roulette wheels are riskier. And it is taking more cash to play at many game tables.
Blackjack players lost nearly $1 billion to casinos on the Strip last year, the second-highest loss on record, after 2007, according to data from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
Some Las Vegas casinos cut back the number of blackjack tables with dealers, raised minimum bets during busy times and lifted their advantage over players in some games—doubling-down on a prepandemic practice of making subtle changes that favor the house, according to industry executives, researchers and gamblers.
Blackjack, a fast-paced card game, historically paid out a ratio of 3:2 when a player hit 21 on the first two cards. That means a gambler wins $15 for every $10 bet. Now, many blackjack tables on the Strip pay out at 6:5, which means that same $10 yields only $12.
John and Kristina Mehaffey, owners of gambling-news and data company Vegas Advantage, have been cataloging these changes since 2011, walking miles-long routes through casinos to record the number of blackjack and roulette tables set outside of VIP areas.
According to the Mehaffeys’ data, more than two-thirds of blackjack tables on the Strip currently offer 6:5 payouts, as opposed to 3:2.
Las Vegas visitors on vacation might not notice—or might not care—about the casinos’ increased advantage, says Bill Zender, a casino consultant who focuses on table-game management. But casinos risk losing business over time, he says.
“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,” Zender said.
Author(s): Katherine Sayre
Publication Date:29 May 2023
Publication Site: WSJ