Americans Don’t Understand Winning Slots Odds

slots winning odds

slots winning odds


New research has found that the average gambler cannot identify house edges on slot machines.

The study conducted by San Diego State University’s Sycuan Institute of Tribal Gaming tested casinos in both the USA and Mexico.

Two slot machines were placed near one another, one called Tokyo Rose and the other, Dragon’s Fortune X.

Professor Katherine Spilde and UNLV Hospitality College Professor Anthony Lucas found that despite the house edges on the machines varying – one at 8% and the other at 15%, almost all players didn’t notice.

And it’s no surprise, as casinos purposely try to keep their house edges out of public knowledge to keep profits up. The odds of winning on each machine are not advertised.

Spilde and Lucas concluded that players were not spending enough time on the slots to be able to detect which machines were paying out more often than others.

In an interview with Nevada Public Radio, Lucas said: “The high-house edge games actually win quite a bit more than the low-house edge games.

“There is no reason for players to play that game, and yet they still do.”

Machines with a higher edge payout the same as those with a lower one when a win is triggered, however, wins happen a lot less frequently.

Under Regulation 14 of the Nevada Gaming Control Act, slot machines are required to pay  75% of game profits back to players. However, casinos tend to disregard the rule.

Nevada slots have been shown to pay out $100 to just 5.69% of their winners.

The study has, however, ruled out the worry that gamblers may stop using slots if house edges become too high.

And it isn’t because they recognize them and play anyway – but simply because they aren’t aware that some machines are paying out more than others.

House edges on slot machines deliver casinos the majority of their gross gaming revenue and is also prominent in the world of online gambling.

The house pays off a player’s bets at odds lower than the odds of winning when playing online, giving the house the mathematical edge.

So despite players ending up with a good sum of money in their back pocket now and again, for the majority of the time, the casino will win.

It’s thought that despite players losing over and over again, it is the buzz on the one-off wins that keep gamblers coming back for more.

Some slot machines across the country have an edge as high as 35%, while others go as low as 5%.

The ultimate point is that no one knows which one is which. Your slot wins are mostly put down to the player’s ‘luck’ in picking the right machine.

Video poker machines, on the other hand, offer much better edges for the player if they are to play their hands optimally.

In these cases, the edge can be as low as 0.5%, and only ever tends to climb as high as 6%.

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Gambling is now legal in Japan

gambling in Japan

gambling in Japan


Gambling in Japan is somewhat of a delicate subject and although most forms of gambling are forbidden by the Criminal Code (chapter 23), there are several exceptions to the rule with the most recent being casinos.

Before the recent amendment to the law, betting on horse racing and certain motorsports (bicycle racing, powerboat racing, and asphalt speedway motorbike racing) was and still is completely legal in the country. They are, however, only allowed by special laws that are regulated by local governments and governmental corporations. 

With tickets available from countless circuits and ticket booths throughout the country and in many cities (Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Nagoya) it’s a wonder why alternative forms of gambling aren’t acceptable. But here’s where it gets particularly strange, gambling may be illegal, but Japan also permits the lottery, so much so that you can purchase tickets at some ATMs.

Tickets are usually sold between 100 to 500 yen ($1 to $5) with prizes reaching up to 100 million yen ($1 million). The prize pool for any given lottery is less than 50% of the overall sales with the rest heading to local charities and government organizations so by allowing for the lottery, the country creates funding for positive areas.

But when we look at the legalization of casinos in Japan, the method behind the madness isn’t too dissimilar from what we’ve already seen from the lottery. Maybe this is the next major step up for the development in Japan…


The 2018 legalization of casinos in Japan 

As of 20 July 2018, the Japanese Parliament announced that for the first time, casino gambling would be decriminalized, paving the way for new gambling-based businesses and casino revenues by the mid-2020s.

A building of ‘integrated resorts’ was announced to maximize the new laws with the capitalization of casinos, hotels, shopping centers and conference rooms all under the same roof. Think of it as a small slice of Las Vegas making its way over to the Japanese capital.

The news comes shortly after Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister voiced his support in legalizing gambling as a section of a strategy to both improve tourism and stimulate economies outside of Tokyo.

The shift in law doesn’t come as a particularly large surprise, especially when you consider the success in other areas of Asia when it comes to casinos and resorts. With Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau (home to 8 of the 10 most profitable casinos) all-seeing huge boosts to the economy, it was only a matter of time before Japan joined in on the action. 

Possible future resort sites are rumored with Osaka, Nagasaki, Wakayama and Hokkaido prefecture, but the obvious choice in Tokyo has been suggested, although is not yet formally proposed as a viable venture.

Officials state the very first Japanese casino is likely to open in the mid-2020s, but we’re expecting nothing but accelerated progress. Hardly a surprise with the backing of plenty of U.S. gaming companies including MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. pledging as much as $10 billion per resort.

With so much investment ready to make movements around the country, we’re expecting the most expensive casinos in the world to be arriving in absolutely no time at all.


What do the locals say?

gambling in japan

With so much buzz and coverage around the official’s decisions, the locals can often be overlooked and that appears to be the case with the casino legalization. 

Japanese opinion polls show that Tokyo’s newest revenue stream isn’t exactly what you’d call popular with those living in and around the area. With fears of increased crime, increases in addiction and damage to the economy, polls showed nearly two-thirds of those questioned opposed their legalization. 

However, the new law does come with some safeguards, seemingly looking towards Monaco and Casino de Monte Carlo for inspiration in keeping the locals at a minimum. With a maximum number of times that a Japanese citizen can visit a casino alongside a $53 entrance fee to reduce the potential for addiction, not as strict as the South of France, but we’re sure it’ll get the job done. 

It might not be to everyone’s taste, but with the law passed and serious investment hot on its tail, there’s not a lot that can be done to prevent.


Illegal gambling in Japan

Although one of the safest places in the world, Japan is no stranger to its fair share of crime and with the Yakuza running plenty of questionable businesses throughout the city – it’s no surprise that illegal gambling isn’t exactly rare.

In addition to the traditional casino games that you’d expect in venues around the globe, the Yakuza also promote Mahjong to be played for cash. It’s for this reason that many mahjong parlors have strong ties with the Yakuza in an effort to collect the debt from defaulting players.

But it’s not just the gangs that promote sly betting, illegal gambling opportunities are actually offered by mobile gaming sites. Japanese gamblers can engage in rock-paper-scissor tournaments to win cash prizes. Players that won 3 times in a row could benefit from a 1000 yen prize from a 315 yen buy-in or 10,000 yen for a win-streak of five

By legalizing and allowing control of the gambling industry within the country, it’s expected that the number of direct crimes committed will decrease e.g. illegal casinos, yet there are still worries about indirect increases.


Where to gamble legally in Japan

gambling in japan

Although we’re still waiting for any form of legal casino to open around the country, this doesn’t mean that legal gambling can’t be enjoyed with an (admittedly limited) choice of different games to wager in. 

Horse Racing 

Wagering on horse racing is probably the best you’re going to get for the moment if you’re wanting a flutter while in Japan, but with such popularity surrounding the sport, you’ll find it a breath of fresh air. 

There’s a total of 24 government-run, non-JRA tracks throughout the country, but it’s the quality of racing that doesn’t quite cut the mustard for most serious gamblers. Most horses don’t look to be in the best of shape and it leads to some dire viewing at times. But with so many variations and the unpredictability that comes with the events, it can become more like playing the lottery than hedging a sensible bet. 

That being said, if you’re looking to visit the government-run races, they’re often found running in the evening on weekdays. It’s worth the experience, even if you’re only heading there once. 

If you’re really wanting to take racing to the next level, JRA racing is your only hope. With three tracks in the Tokyo area, two in the Kansai area, two in Hokkaido, two in northern Honshu and another in Kyushu, you’re spoiled for choice across the island. However, if you’re struggling to get to the track, it’s not a problem to hop online and get a JRA account and bet online, streaming the races as you go. 

When it comes to the bets there’s plenty of exotic options including trifectas, perfectas as well as the ‘wide’ (a fun play of the quinella). Winnings will be paid when selected horses rank in first and second, first and third or second or third – a great option if you’ve got a peculiar hunch. Don’t worry if you’re struggling with the Japanese characters, you’ll be able to find an English version of the racing site from any search engine. 

If you get the chance to visit one of the big races in the calendar year, you’ll be in for a treat with tracks routinely seeing over 100,000 visitors for the racing occasions. It definitely makes for an experience, that’s for sure.


If you’re not familiar with the game of pachinko, it’s exactly what you didn’t know your life was missing…

The game is essentially the Japanese equivalent of pinball that fills the void that a lack of slot machines leave a country, but it’s no hobbyist game. The pachinko market generates more gambling revenue than Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore combined and in 1994 was valued at approximately $300 billion. It’s no wonder there’s a gold-rush for casinos, not with numbers like that, and in 1994 of all times…

Pachinko parlors are everywhere in Japan and although they look and operate in a similar fashion to casinos, gambling for cash is of course illegal. Instead, the pachinko balls collected from the machine following a win can be exchanged for prizes or tokens, but not money in the parlors. Tokens can be exchanged for money, but this is at a separate location from the parlor, thus eliminating the chance for illegal activity. 

If you’re around the areas that the game is played, it’s definitely worth a visit. The activity is entirely mesmerizing that promises routine night-time entertainment for locals, and if you ask nicely, tourists too. It might not be particularly glamorous, but it’s a part of Japan we wouldn’t change for the world.

The lottery (takarakuji)

The lottery is one of the most popular forms of legal gambling that you’ll be able to find throughout the entirety of Japan. 

You can pick up a ticket directly at numerous sanctioned lottery booths, often found near train stations and in front of department stores, and will likely set you back between 100 and 500 yen ($1 and $5). There’s the chance to hit the jackpot of between 100 million and 1 billion yen ($1 million and $10 million) with each play, but only half of the revenue goes towards the prize fund, the rest you’ll find invested into local governments and charities. 

It’s not just the typical national game that you can get involved with, there’s plenty of other typical games that you play too. From scratch-offs to daily pick threes and fours, there are all kinds of different ways to play.

Get incredibly lucky and match your numbers and you’re in for another few great benefits. Not only is there absolutely no obligation to come forward to announce that you’ve got the winning ticket, but what you win is what you keep. All winnings are entirely tax-free so there are no nasty surprises when you come to claim. 

Bicycle racing (keirin)

Believe it or not, bicycle racing has been leaps and bounds ahead of horse racing for some time in Japan with a devoted fanbase and the ability to gamble on the outcome of races.

The sport was homegrown shortly after WWII and involves several cyclists completing laps as paced by a motorcycle. Towards the finish, the motorcyclist pulls away and athletes race in an attempt to be crowned victorious as they cross the line. 

Although created as a form of gambling, the event made its way into the 2000 Olympics, confirming the capabilities of the sportspeople contending. 

Boat racing (kyotei)

Boat racing has been a popular government-sponsored gambling event since 1952 following its introduction from the US.

As of current, there are over 20 venues throughout Japan with drivers completing six laps around a 600-meter course to the finish line. Both male and female riders take part in the race and to avoid any mechanical advantage, riders are allocated a boat at random on race day.

Bets can include predicting the winner, wagering on the top 2 out of 3 and/or predicting the specific combination of podium finishers. It’s definitely an interesting choice, but then again, what isn’t when we’re looking into the culture of Japan? 

J-League Soccer 

Last, but not least, comes the ability to gamble on the Japanese professional soccer league – J-league.

The system works in a similar fashion to the lottery with ‘Toto’ booths scattered around the country and although they effectively work the same, they’re much more difficult to find. You’ll usually find them located in used car lots and electronic stores, among other weird places, but once you’re in you can take advantage and place your wager.

You don’t need to know a huge amount about the sport to make your picks, just randomly make your picks and hope for the best. 

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Best Alternative Casino Games To Try In Canada

Luke Garrison: Sports & Casino Author from Canada

About the author

Name Luke Garrison
Job Agate Editor for The Canadian Press

Luke Garrison is a professional writer who grew up just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He currently works at the Canadian Press and enjoys the outdoors in his free time.

Canadian bettors, and sports bettors everywhere, should be able to bet in a safe, non-convoluted way.

Most of Canada tends to gravitate toward classic casino games such as ‘Poker’ and ‘Blackjack’, but there are so many others that are a blast once you’ve learned to play. Some of the games we’re about to mention are almost certainly titles you’ve heard of in passing over the years, so why not finally find out what they’re all about?

All of the casino games we’re about to mention are table games that can be played both online and at physical casinos. The preference is truly yours! Perhaps you’ll find yourself at a casino bachelor or bachelorette party where this knowledge will be useful, or maybe you’re just looking for a new way to unwind after work. Either way, we have you covered.


Most Canadians have absolutely heard of ‘Baccarat’ – especially fans of James Bond! Simply put, your goal is to wager on the winning hand, which is the one that scores the highest point total. Your three betting options are ‘Player’, ‘Banker’, and ‘Tie’.

Betting odds of both the player and the banker are 1:1, whereas a bet on a tie would have either 8:1 or 9:1 odds. This is because naturally, a tie is far more unlikely than declaring a winner. Another thing to remember is that if a player bets on the banker (and the banker wins), most casinos will often take a cut of the profits (around 5%).

The next step to learning baccarat is understanding the card values. Numbers two through nine (2-9) are worth the usual face value (ex. a five would amount to five points), whereas a ten, jack, queen, or king is worth zero points and any ace is worth just one point. As a side note, card suit is irrelevant in this game.

From there, both the banker and the player receive two cards. Once the cumulative value of each hand has been determined, the first number is removed and the final score becomes the second number. For example, if you were to draw an ace and a queen, your score would be ’01’ aka ‘1’.

On some occasions, the player and/or the banker may be given a third card to add to their score. For players, this happens when their initial score is between zero and five, but the banker only receives a third card if their initial score is zero, one, or two.

In Canada, the most popular type of baccarat is called ‘Punto Banco’ which quite literally means ‘Player Banker’. Between one to fourteen players can participate in a single game, and every player who bets on the winning result will receive a payout based on their staked amount.


Bingo is a very simple yet fun casino game that often gets brushed to the side for simply being too familiar. For most Canadians, it’s the first game of chance they were ever aware of, seeing as it’s a popular game the majority of us played as kids anywhere from family gatherings to summer camp.

Most versions of bingo are just like the classic one, with the main differences being the number of cards and balls used. ’75-Ball Bingo’ still reigns supreme, played on a five-by-five card with numbers ranging from 1-75. For those who may not know (or have forgotten), the numbers are broken down into 15 numbers per letter.

Numbers 1-15 are found under the ‘B’ column, 16-30 are only under the ‘I’ column, and so on. A winning card can be anything from a single line (either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) to a ‘Full House’, which is when you’ve filled in your entire card.

Other outcomes include multiple lines, such as an ‘X’ (two diagonal lines) or a ‘T’, which is when the top horizontal line and the vertical line under the ‘N’ have both been filled out. As another fyi, upside-down ‘Ts’ do not count.

For those that would prefer to play offline and perhaps even yell ‘Bingo!’ when they’ve won like old times, there are still physical bingo halls throughout most cities in Canada. Online bingo can sometimes be more of a slot-type game, but the same principles apply and they’re generally easy to pick up on.

It’s a great activity for those looking for a fun night out with a twist, or for those who would rather press their luck from the couch.


No casino games list would be complete without at least mentioning a dice game, and ‘Craps’ is arguably the most timeless dice game there is. Each round requires rolling two dice at once, with the player rolling them referred to as the ‘shooter’.

Anyone can bet on the shooter each round, and the dice are passed in a clockwise direction after each turn as well. This gives everyone a chance to play as the shooter. The round begins with the shooter rolling the dice so that they hit the back wall from where they are positioned around the table, in what is called the ‘come-out roll’.

After the dice have settled, their sum determines the next step. The best possible outcome is called a ‘natural’, which is when the total dice amount is equal to ‘7’ or ’11’ signifying both a winning bet and a re-roll. If the shooter were to roll a ‘2’, ‘3’, or a ’12’, they would not win but can continue rolling.

A roll of ‘4’, ‘5’, ‘6’, ‘8’, ‘9’, or ’10’, the dealer will mark that number on the table with a chip-looking object called a ‘button’. To see what a craps table looks like, please refer to our intro image at the top of this page. The marked number is also called ‘establishing a point’ and if the shooter is able to roll that same number again, they would then be declared the winner.

Conversely, if they roll a ‘7’, it’s called a ‘seven out’, which means the round would then be over. The most common bets in craps are on the ‘pass line’ and the ‘don’t pass line’, and either bet type can be placed at any time during the round as long as the point has not yet been established.

The shooter can also bet on either pass line. If the shooter rolls a natural, or the same number as their point before a seven out, a pass bet will win. On the other hand, if a shooter rolls a ‘2’ or ‘3’ or sevens out before rolling for a point, a don’t pass bet would cash.

As a chance game that has undergone a lot of development since at least the late 1700s, there’s a lot more to know, but what we’ve explained here is a good place to start.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about some new casino games, feel free to branch out from your usual favourites. You’ll be happy you did!


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