Lion’s Share Slot Machine – Lion’s Share was a three-reel progressive slot found at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Considering how old the machine is, and the high turnover rate in the gaming industry, no one seems to know the history of the game for sure. However, I think you could say it’s the oldest slot in MGM and the jackpot hasn’t been hit in years. By today’s standards it is very outdated, with mechanical reels, blurry graphics and all withdrawals requiring a down payment.
After the original publication of this article, the jackpot was hit on August 24, 2014 for $2.4 million. The rest of this article is unchanged from the original publication, before the jackpot was hit.
Lion’s Share Slot Machine
It is sometimes rumored in player circles that the game may have a player advantage because the progressive has been growing for 20 years. That’s where I come in. This page describes my analysis of the game to determine how good a bet it is.
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I started playing this game on January 14, 2014. Between my own play and 153 spins watched on YouTube videos, I have recorded how often each reel lands on each symbol. The following table shows my results.
Based on the pay table and observed results, the following table shows the probability and return for each event. The return column is the product of the profit, the probability, and (1/3). The reason for dividing by 3 is the bet amount of $3. In other words, the return column is relatively a $3 bet.
So, based on this small sample size, the game returns 108.1% of the stake. With a one or two coin bet, the return drops to 99.4%. Based on the small sample size, I would consider these results crude.
On March 2, 2012, someone named SmokaLott posted on the Vegas Message Board that he played Lion’s Share 10,000 times and landed a lion on the center payline 33 times on reel 1, 42 on reel 2, and 34 on reel 3.
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In early February 2014, forum member AxiomOfChoice sent me his data on payline lions. In 1,896 spins, he landed the lion on the middle payline 5 times on reel 1, 4 on reel 2 and 6 on reel 3. If you’re only looking at the lion on the middle payline, here’s the combined info.
Assuming these probabilities, and otherwise using the data from my spins for the other symbols, the return table looks like this.
The lower right cell shows a total return of 103.6%, based on three coin bets. With one or two coin bets, the return drops to 98.4%.
Based on this combined data, the probability of winning the jackpot is approximately 1 in 19.0 million. I understand the jackpot started at a million dollars. If so, and assuming everyone bet $3 at a time, the game would have been played about 60 million times. In these many spins, the expected number of jackpots is 2.9. The probability of never getting a jackpot of 60 million spins is about 5.4%. I should remind my readers that each spin is independent, so the odds of winning the jackpot are the same as for any other spin.
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As a scientific kind of guy, I hate to use data from someone I’ve never heard of from a two year old forum post as the basis for my analysis of a game. But the SmokaLot data looks reasonable to me, and his results are similar to the combined results of AxiomOfChoice and me.
I would like to return to collect more data, or hire someone else to do so, but since a recent wave of media publicity it has become difficult to get on the machine. I would also hate to hog it for hours with a line waiting. For this reason, I am also publishing my results both ways, with only my data as well as the combined results of me, AxiomOfChoice and SmokaLott. Aug. 23, 2014: Linda and Walter Misco, Chester, N.H., pose next to the Lion’s Share slot machine after winning its $2.4 million jackpot, the first payout for the machine in its 21-year existence. (CRAIG MCCOOL / MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL)
A happy New Hampshire couple is returning from their Vegas vacation this weekend with an extra $2.4 million in their bank account after hitting the jackpot on the MGM Grand’s “Lion’s Share” slot machine. The machine, the last of 50 unveiled when the casino opened in 1993, became famous for never paying out a jackpot, although small hits on a maximum bet of $3 could earn a player as much as $10,000.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that Walter and Linda Misco of Chester, N.H. had deposited $100 into the slot and had been playing $3 max bets for about five minutes when the three green lion emblems lined up perfectly along the center payline.
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“MGM Grand is very pleased to award this historic jackpot to the lucky winner of the ‘Lion’s Share,’ and we couldn’t be happier for the winners and their family and friends,” said Scott Sibella, president and COO of MGM Grand. in a statement on Saturday.
Walter Misco, a retired horse farmer, told the newspaper he would use the money to pay his children and grandchildren’s ways through college. His biggest previous haul from a Vegas trip: $8,000 playing video poker.