Introduction to Kentucky Slots Return-To-Player
A big concern for slots enthusiasts is if casinos are trying to “get back their lost gaming revenue” by reducing their return-to-player (RTP). But is that true, state-by-state? Let’s look closely at the Kentucky Slots Return-To-Player for their Historic Horse Racing (HHR) machine facilities.
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Kentucky’s Gaming Industry: An Overview
Kentucky has seven parlors offering pari-mutuel-based, HHR, electronic gaming machines, four of which are at horse racetracks. An additional site is under construction. The largest site is Oak Grove Racing Casino Hotel. The second-largest site is Red Mile Gaming & Racing, an HHR parlor in partnership with Keeneland Race Course.
Historically, Kentucky has had a fascinating relationship with gambling. While casino gambling was never legal, gambling dens were prevalent before the Great Depression of 1929. To this day, the open display of illegal gambling from that time in American history continues to negatively affect the perception of gaming in Kentucky.
Kentucky’s constitution prohibits Class III Vegas-style slot machines. In 2011, Historic Horse Racing (HHR) electronic gaming machines arrived in Kentucky. These gaming machines look like slot machines, but the results of each bet made are based on many past, anonymous, horse racing results from across the U.S.
Based on pari-mutuel wagering regulations for horse races, the HHR machines circumvented the constitutional prohibition against slot machines. In recent years, HHRs have become increasingly, some say wildly, popular.
Kentucky’s flourishing slots industry has recently come under scrutiny by state lawmakers. Why? Because most of the taxes generated by HHR machines go to horse industry funds and program.
Since 2011, HHR bets total $5.3 billion. About $80 million went to taxes, of which $51 million went to the horse industry. Only $29 million went to general tax revenue for the state.
While this $29 million may seem like a lot, Kentucky lawmakers noticed it’s substantially less than the tax revenue received from slot machine bets in other states.
These HHR machines revived the horse racing industry in Kentucky and manufacturers of these games are looking to expand across the U.S. And the Commonwealth of Kentucky has decided it wants a bigger piece of the pie.
In February 2021, state lawmakers came to an agreement to push off a controversial tax revenue increase until 2022.
Kentucky’s Return Statistics for Slots
The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not offer any theoretical payout limits on HHR gaming machines. However, return statistics are available but require a bit of number crunching.
Monthly Player Win Percentages
The return statistics for Kentucky goes back to June 2016. As each gaming site opened over the years, their returns were added to the state report.
But I’ve plotted below the monthly player win percentages at Kentucky HHR sites from the beginning of 2021 to the latest available.
All Kentucky HHR sites have player win percentage from about 89.5% to 93%, a range of around 3.5%. Several sites are quite consistent regarding their monthly player win percentage.
As a clear indication of how well these HHR sites target their player win percentages, we can see how each casino has chosen and closely maintain their monthly return-to-player.
In the following video, I’ve highlighted the colored line for each HHR site with their monthly return statistics.
The return data shows that The Mint at Bowling Green had the lowest overall return since it opened with some indication of competing with that designation with Newport Gaming.
Summary of Kentucky Slots Return-To-Player
Kentucky sites with HHR machines carefully manage their player win percentage. Because returns are reported to the state of Kentucky, savvy slots enthusiasts can choose casinos with better return-to-player than their competitors.
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