For decades, the majority of the advertising you may have seen for Atlantic City casinos has centered around how loose the slot machines are.
Slots are the most popular games in any casino and Atlantic City casinos have been trying to draw you in by promising the loosest slots in town. What they’re really saying is their slots pay out at a better rate than the competition. Some can even prove it using data from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).
The NJDGE puts out the Atlantic City Casino Industry Casino Win Data report annually. It lists, by denomination, how much money the slots at every Atlantic City casino is taking in every year and how much of it they’re keeping. From there, it’s easy enough to extrapolate the Return To Player rates for slots at all nine Atlantic City casinos.
If you’re playing slots online you might not think this has much to do with you. That’s wrong. For the most part, the online slots you find at New Jersey online casinos are the very same ones you see on the gaming floor at Atlantic City casinos.
These days, almost 99% of slot machines are computerized. At Atlantic City casinos, the computer programs that run the slots are housed in the slot cabinets you find in banks all across the gaming floor. At NJ online casinos the very same computer programs run on servers you can access on the internet.
Since most of the games are the same, it would follow that the Return To Player rates for most of the slots at Atlantic City casinos are the same as the ones you’ll find at online casinos or in some cases, better.
The odds of winning at any casino game are often expressed in something called the Return To Player rate (RTP). It’s the opposite of the house edge the casinos enjoy on the games.
Essentially, return-to-player is the expected return a player can see, also referred to as payout percentage. The return is based around the life-expectance of the game, which in the case of online slots, is essentially infinity.
That means a game with a 90% RTP will pay back $90 for every $100 played on it.
The thing is, the payout percentage is based on long term performance of the slot machine. In other words, you’re not guaranteed to get $90 out of a game you just put $100 into.
It will take many, many sessions before you can estimate the RTP.
However, the slot machine payout percentage is a strong indicator of what you can expect from a casino game over the long haul. For slots in particular, RTP is far and away the best way to tell if a game is loose or tight.
A look at the numbers in the 2018 Atlantic City Casino Industry Casino Win Data report tells us that Atlantic City casino slots had an overall average RTP of 92.11% in 2018. That’s a pretty good number for players because it means $92.11 of every $100 put into Atlantic City casino slots was paid back in prizes to those same players.
So, who really had the loosest slots in America’s playground in 2018? Here’s a look at the best Atlantic City slot machine payouts.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City had the loosest slots in 2018. In fact, Golden Nugget’s $0.50 slots were the loosest in all of Atlantic City paying out a 98.5% RTP on the $2,750,730 they took in.
Penny slots might be the most attractive in Atlantic City casinos because they appear to cost the least to play. However, the average RTP of 88.7% for $0.01 and $0.02 slots in Atlantic City casinos in 2018 suggests they may not be the best bet. In fact, the $0.01 and $0.02 slots at Bally’s and Harrah’s offered the worst RTP in AC at 87.6%.
Ultimately, the data suggest if you can find a $.50 slot machine at an Atlantic City casino you should probably play it. The average RTP for $.50 slot machines at all Atlantic City casinos is 94.1%.
The next best bet is the high roller $25 slot machines, which posted an average RTP at all Atlantic City casinos of 93.4%.
Unfortunately, the NJDGE does not release this kind of specific Casino Win Data for NJ online casinos. That means we can’t tell you how online slot machines actually performed over that same period of time.
Fortunately, some real money casinos list the expected payout percentages for most slots in the description of the game. That means we can look at a selection of games you can find both at AC casinos and online and figure out an average expected RTP for those slots online.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 AC Slots that are also available online and the RTP listed for the games at Golden Nugget Online Casino:
The 10 slot machines listed above have an average payout percentage of 95.15%, which is even better than the AC best 93.15% RTP average of all slots on the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino floor posted in 2018.
This suggests you’d be better off playing the games online than at a land-based casino. That may very well be the case, but before we declare that the slots at online casinos are looser than the same games at land-based casinos in AC, we should remind you of some important distinctions between the numbers.
First of all, the land-based casino RTP numbers are based on real data over the course of a year provided to the NJDGE by Atlantic City casinos. The online casino RTP numbers are basically theoretical and could take longer than a year to be realized.
Plus, the land-based casino RTP numbers are formed using actual data from every slot on the floor of an Atlantic City casino in 2018. The online casino numbers are theoretical RTP figures for just 10 games found at both land-based and online casinos in New Jersey.
If you play slots online instead of at an Atlantic City casino you might think you’ll miss out on all kinds of comps, bonuses, and player loyalty rewards you’d otherwise earn. That’s wrong. Several online casinos offer the same comps, bonuses, and player loyalty rewards you earn on the gaming floor at Atlantic City casinos.
In fact, many online casinos will provide loyalty programs that allow you to earn points at their land-based locations or earn credits for the land-based program, thereby allowing you to both earn and redeem at the online casino or retail location.
Here’s a list of the online casinos where players can earn comps at Atlantic City casinos when they play online:
Caesars Rewards offers the Tier and Reward Credits for betting online at the Caesars Online Casino. Caesars Rewards properties in Atlantic City include Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, and Harrah’s Atlantic City.
BetMGM offers two rewards programs, one for online players, called iRewards Loyalty Program and the other for brick-and-mortar players. You can exchange your iRewards Points into Express Comps and use it at any MGM Resorts destination in the US, including Borgata in Atlantic City.
Golden Nugget offers its own proprietary Golden Rewards program online. However, Golden Rewards members enjoy benefits and perks at Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
You can earn comp points at Harrah’s online casino and convert them to your standard Caesars Rewards account.
SugarHouse provides a unique rewards program called iRush Rewards program. The rewards program is available at both both NJ and PA casinos. You can use these comp points at the Philadelphia SugarHouse Casino.
The truth is that online casinos are a lot more convenient for most people than their land-based partners.
If you want to play slots at an Atlantic City casino you must go out of pocket for transportation costs and unless you live next door to one, it’s going to take some time to travel there.
In contrast, you can login and start spinning online in a matter of minutes with no additional travel costs.
Since the slots are mostly the same at AC casinos and NJ online casinos, the fact online is more convenient and less costly makes NJ online casinos the obvious choice between the two. Plus, even though it’s theoretical, the fact you might enjoy a better RTP online than live makes the decision between the two a no brainer.
With RTPs over 90%, we recommend doing both. But if you have to choose one or the other there’s simply too many advantages to playing slots online over AC casinos to ignore.