Introduction to Casino Changes in 2021
A lot has happened with casinos this past year! The U.S. slots industry is constantly changing, updating, adding new game themes, taking old ones away, tweaking algorithms, not to mention all the trends created! I summarize the biggest casino changes that happened last year and how they will impact strategies this year.
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2020 – What a Year Including with Slots!
There’s a lot more changes coming in 2021 than most years. Why? Because of 2020.
Last year saw every U.S. casino close when previously, way back in 1963, only the Las Vegas casinos closed a day for the funeral of President Kennedy.
The changes we’ll be seeing in 2021 are due to why U.S. casinos closed for a month or more. Yes, because of the tragic and so deadly pandemic of 2020.
As you know well, all casinos closed in 2020. And then, when they came back, they did not return at full capacity. Plexiglas was everywhere. Every other machine (or more!) turned off or disabled. And, of course, temperature testing and the wearing of masks became commonplace.
Perhaps you even brought your own cleaning materials to the casino so you could sanitize slot machine before playing them. I know some of you have done this. And good for you!
But what else happened in 2020? True, slots players got a break from slots. Of course, online slots enthusiasts who already preferred playing online saw little disruption in their play.
But many casino slots enthusiasts learned that online slots weren’t a worthy alternative to brick-and-mortar casino slots. When was the building of anticipation during the drive to our favorite casino? What about meeting up with old friends? Where was the wonderful, comped meal? Where were the envious glances from or to strangers when winning?
But something else happened in 2020. What? Slot machine manufacturers got a break from pushing new content to closed casinos. They caught up. And they got a chance to innovate.
Most game developers for slot manufacturers already worked from home before the pandemic. That’s where they program and develop new games. But not just new games, because these slots companies do a whole lot more than manufacture slot machines, make games, and develop casino operating systems with their central computer servers and algorithms.
But there’s more going on than that. A lot more. And 2020 gave them the opportunity to develop these new products and release them in 2021. Let’s talk about these new products we’re already seeing at a few of the most modern casinos … and likely also see become widespread in 2021.
And, of course, let’s see if we can use them to win at slots.
1. Casinos Will Make a Big Comeback in 2021
Yes, every U.S. casino closed in 2020. If you watched my live streams on my YouTube Channel on Saturdays at Noon ET over last spring, we watched it happen together over many weeks including the fast closings, what it all meant, the much slower re-openings, and what the new restrictions meant.
We now know that, of the nearly 1,000 casinos in the U.S., almost a hundred of them have remained closed. Which casinos are still closed can be seen using the American Gaming Association’s Casino Tracker.
I suspect these casino facilities will remain closed. It’s a simple engineering facility planning principle that buildings without an active HVAC system through a summer, fall, and winter typically makes large buildings unfit for humans.
But open casinos are making enough to remain open. They’re making a go of it in the hopes of getting back to being big moneymakers for commercial investors and tribal communities.
And it looks like that’s going to happen in 2021. Based on a decision to be cautious when the pandemic broke out, many slots enthusiasts simply stopped going to casinos.
Perhaps some have given up on play slots. Being a slots enthusiast myself who has limited my exposure to the virus at fully open casinos in Ohio, I sincerely believe that’s temporary. Once they feel it’s safe, I think slots enthusiasts will come rushing back to their hobby of playing slots.
The question is, when will it be safe to go back to casinos? Whether it be spring, summer, or early fall, it looks like the vaccine could be administered to everyone who wants it by fall 2021.
My prediction is that casinos will become flooded with slots enthusiasts by the end of 2021, perhaps more than ever seen before by a wide margin. And won’t it be something to see the consequences of that happening.
2. New Ways to Play Slots in 2021
Every year, gaming companies like IGT, Scientific Games, and many more create new game themes. Not only do they create new games themes, perhaps based on your favorite movie or television show, but they also innovate how to play the game.
No place was this more evident in 2020 than with penny slot machines. Lightning Link, anyone? That only became popular in 2019, right?
I’ve played them of course, along with other penny slot machines where are essentially disguised high-limit slot machines ($8.80 bets!) almost guaranteed to have the worst odds anywhere in the U.S. based on state-provided return statistics.
But that’s okay. Because there are so many of them in most casinos, we take the opportunity to look for and find those which are winners. That’s what my winning slots strategies are all about.
But the latest penny slot machines don’t even seem to have a pay table. As slot machines, they must – but pay tables have become so complicated they’re many pages on touchscreens. That’s what happens when you might bet nearly a thousand credits with half a dozen different bonus games.
But this is the direction in which slot machine games are moving. It’s something we’ll see more of in 2021. Why? Because it’s been so successful for both casinos and the gaming companies that develop and supply these slot machines.
Those casinos not yet made up of slot machines with one big, curved touchscreen will start seeing more of them. Many more. Like, all of them. It’s already happening at some casinos.
But let’s take this a step further. Yes, in 2021 many more casinos with get or get more penny slot machines with one huge screen. But let’s think like a casino or gaming company executive. What’s the plan?
Do you see it? It’s just like winning at slots. Figure out what works, which they have, and grow from there. Why wouldn’t they replace every slot machine with machines with one big screen and complicated, multi-bonus, long paytable game themes?
And, these executives are thinking, why limit ourselves to penny slots? Of course, electrical power availability and a casino’s willingness to invest so much, even on a proven product, is a risk. Casino executives will have to carefully think it over, yet the business case seems clear.
And that’s where I predict slot machine game themes will trend in 2021 and beyond.
3. Casino Website Apps as a Tool to Win
Have you been to the website of your favorite casino lately? You really should visit, especially in 2021. There may well be something very useful for you there, especially in terms of winning slots strategies.
The World’s Oldest Winning Slots Strategy Still in Play (Live Q&A) is all about location, location, location. Yes, I stole (ahem!) BORROWED that saying from the real estate industry.
Casinos would very much like to get something back for giving you a jackpot. Well, they hide exits so you stay and play. That just a typical casino design.
But what about other slots enthusiasts also helping pay back the casino? That’s easy enough. The casino simply improves the odds of winning on slot machines visible from a distance.
If you’ve been carefully listening to my podcast or watching videos on my YouTube Channel, you likely already know this strategy. When you find a candidate slot machine, stand in front of it with your back to the machine. Look where it looks. What do you see?
If you see a wall right in front of you, seriously consider finding another slot machine because few can see you win. But instead, maybe you’ll see other slots players looking back at you. Or casino goers coming toward you on a busy walkway on their way to lunch or dinner. Then by all means, stay at that candidate slot machine!
The trouble with this strategy is, where are all the best locations in the casino. To find them all, and maybe ask my option during a consultation, you’d need a map. As I know from some of your prior consultations, sketches of the casino’s floorplan are less than ideal.
In 2021, there’s an easy solution becoming available for getting a casino’s floor map. Some casinos already have it. To see what I mean, visit the website of Oklahoma’s WinStar Casino, the world’s largest casino.
It’s right there. Look for the little icon that looks like a slightly folded map. If you’re looking at their website from a desktop computer, it’s a red icon with white letters at left of what is currently a truly horrible banner. On a smart phone or tablet, it’s little white icon in the upper right corner of the website.
Not only is this a casino map but it’s even more than that. It’s interactive. Meaning, while at the casino you can locate yourself within the map, select a new location within this, the world’s largest casino, and it’ll give you a route to take to get to that new location. This works great with their “Game Finder” tool.
Isn’t that innovative? Now slots enthusiasts at WinStar have a complete casino floorplan. They can go online prior to the trip and start scouting which slot machines have the best location, location, location. All from the comfort of their home.
I’ve been to the website of every casino in the U.S. as part of my online resource of weekly state-by-state slots articles, now in its fourth year. Few yet have this innovative and helpful tool.
In 2021, my prediction is that you’ll also get access to the floor plan at your favorite casino. And that’s going to be a winning slots advantage!
Summary of Casino Changes in 2021
The U.S. slots industry is constantly changing, perhaps no more than it will in 2021 since the last big change when riverboat casinos started opening in 1989 and expanded casinos from just being in Nevada and Atlantic City to across the U.S.