Closest Slot Machine Casino

Closest Slot Machine Casino – EVERETT — On a recent weekday morning, the Encore Boston Harbor casino had dozens of slot machines available, flashing lights, inviting noises and large-screen displays beckoning patrons to take their chances for a spin.

Some people lined up for the “Quick Hit Super Wheel,” a classic “reel” game reminiscent of the one-armed bandits of old. Others tried their luck at the more hellish “Hotter Blazes.” A “Game of Thrones” themed machine was rejected.

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As other gaming resorts in the Northeast look to attract slot machine players, Encore is looking for ways to make the most of a market that is showing signs of being overcrowded. While table games, with their larger stakes, have performed well at Encore, slots revenue has been softer than expected.

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Some industry observers question whether there are enough players around, leaving casinos with limited options as they struggle to meet the rosy revenue projections promised when seeking licenses. In part, this means knowing which slots resonate most with players and discarding the rest. Playing with the Mother of Dragons, for example, might not be something the machine-savvy crowd enjoys.

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Encore has shipped about 100 of the 3,100 machines it had when it opened in late June, using the space for table games that it hopes will be more profitable.

“Less is more as the slots floor enters a saturated market,” said Frank Legato, who follows the slot machine business closely as editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. “You have to be creative with slot machines and come up with games that appeal to the most people.”

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Other operators feel the same pressure. Plainridge Park, Plainville’s slots casino, has been two months since Encore opened. MGM Springfield, which has seen lower than projected overall revenue in its first year of operation, has replaced more than 300 of its original 2,500 machines with table games.

Robert Westerfield, MGM Springfield’s vice president of casino operations, said such changes are normal for a young casino in a tight market.

“It’s a very competitive space, and you have to stay on top of what’s the flavor of the week, so to speak,” he said.

MGM recently built a series of video poker machines in a bar – a move that has proven popular – and has added a giant “Shark Week” slot game with a large video screen to attract patrons’ attention. For non-slot players, he built a “stadium gaming” area where a dealer could serve a large group of players.

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Casinos also have the option of “disturbing” payouts on slots as a way to encourage customers to play.

The attitude of the house often changes. Encore kept about 5.6 percent of the money played on its machines last month, paying out the rest in winnings. MGM retained 8.6 percent, and Plainridge retained 7.6 percent.

“It’s a mix between profitability and consumer satisfaction. Everyone thinks they don’t get paid enough, no matter what,” he said.

Thursday in Plainville, Susan and Randall Martin said they mainly go to the casino because it’s closest to their home in Baldwinville. Like most players, sometimes they win, but often the house does.

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“If there’s a machine playing, I guarantee you it’ll be gone in a few months,” said Susan, 65.

Industry observers say competition for slots customers may be part of the problem facing casinos; it is also an appeal.

“Some have said it’s a generational thing: Young gamers don’t want to sit in front of a machine for hours and hours pushing a button,” said David G. Schwartz, a gaming historian at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. That’s why gaming companies are experimenting with machines that play more like the video games people are used to, he said.

“If you want to play a video game, you’d probably stay home and do that. . . instead of going to a casino and paying a couple of bucks a minute,” Schwartz said.

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Casino operators in Massachusetts say they have explored skill-based video games as a way to supplement their offerings, although none have yet been installed.

Westerfield said he likes the concept. But he still doesn’t see a clear model of “how to make it work and how to make money and be attractive to guests.”

For now, the operators here are sticking to the familiar slot format: deposit some money – or use a casino-issued card – set your bet, spin and hope the symbols on the screen line up.

At Plainridge, those games have been more successful, even with table games such as roulette and blackjack, rather than approximate multiplayer setups. Slot users generally prefer to play alone, among the stand-alone banks of a few games, rather than sitting on a long bank of machines.

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“While we’re always focused on the newest games and technology, what we’ve found works best at Plainridge is providing the best possible customer service,” Lance George, vice president and general manager of Plainridge, said in a statement.

“Sometimes it’s the classic offering and the most responsive to your customer base that succeeds in attracting and retaining your market.”

Users are increasingly turning to “progressive jackpot” games, where the prize grows every time someone doesn’t win, similar to what happens in lottery games like Powerball. Other relatively new games keep players in the terminal by allowing them to “hold and re-spin” in an attempt to improve the results of the first draw.

On the other hand, according to Legato, electronic versions of the old machines remain popular in key baby boomer markets. Although the reel machines are controlled by the same kinds of computers that run high-tech slots, Legato says they still evoke nostalgia, especially for people who have been playing the game for years.

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“You don’t need a handle. “All a handle does is pull down and push a button,” he said. “But it has flavor. That’s people’s idea of ​​a slot machine, and people like it.”

Steve Richmond, 71, walked into Encore Wednesday to check on a few dollars. The East Boston resident hadn’t been to a casino in years, so he resorted to the simple design of a reel-to-reel machine. “You just put in $10 and hope for the best,” Richmond said.

“I saw what I wanted to see,” he said. “And I know they will win. The casino always comes out ahead.’

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Congressional representatives and the American Gaming Association asked the Treasury Department in 2019 to raise the tax reporting threshold for slot machine jackpots from $1,200 to $5,000.

On Thursday, the House Congressional Gaming Caucus, with the support of the AGA, introduced bipartisan legislation to allow Congress to authorize the changes. The Limits Shifting Thresholds (SLOT) Act should impose a higher ceiling on the Treasury Department.

“Treasury dragged its feet, and this has become a burden on the industry,” Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) said in an interview.

Titus, one of the co-leaders of the gaming team, has been fighting for a long time to get the necessary changes made to the reporting portal.

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“If we wait longer, because of inflation, we may have to raise the threshold to $6,000,” Titos said.

When the threshold was established 45 years ago, Nevada was the only state to legalize commercial casinos. That year, the New Jersey Casino Control Act was signed into law, setting the stage for Atlantic City’s casino industry. Since then, commercial casinos have opened in 34 states and slot machine jackpots have been won.

According to the AGA, slot machine revenue accounted for $32.5 billion of the record $53 billion in gaming revenue produced by the nation’s commercial casinos in 2021.

Supporters of the change said a $1,200 jackpot causes the slot machine to shut down until IRS paperwork requirements are met.

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“We’re an industry where you have to take a revenue-generating asset out of production to meet our tax reporting obligations,” AGA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Chris Cylke said in an interview.

It’s a challenging time for legislators to pass legislation. It’s an election year and Congress has been gridlocked by partisan debate over issues like the president’s legislative agenda.

“While it makes logical sense that the slot profit threshold should be increased, it will be a low priority in today’s Congress,” he said.

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