Introduction to Newport Gaming
Near the Ohio River across the border from Cincinnati is Kentucky’s Newport Racing & Gaming.
This casino offers Historic Horse Racing (HHR) style slot machines. What follows is my review of this casino.
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Newport Gaming, 3 Miles southeast of Downtown Cincinnati
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.
Theoretical Payout Limit and Return Statistics
The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not offer any theoretical payout limits on HHR gaming machines.
Calculate player win percentage by dividing Less: Return to Public by Total Handle starting on page 15. For July 2021, the monthly Player’s Win% for HHR machines were:
- State-wide: 91.3%
- Derby City: 91.0%
- Ellis Park: 91.4%
- Kentucky Downs: 91.7%
- Keeneland/Red Mile: 91.9%
- Newport: 90.6%
- Oak Grove: 91.0%
From this July 2021 report, Keenland Red Mile (KRM) had the highest player win percent at 91.9% while Newport Gaming had the lowest at 90.6%.
Food and Accommodations
Otherwise, Newport Racing & Gaming is open from every day from 10 a.m. thru 2 a.m.
In terms of food choices, Newport Gaming has a small bar and grille.
The Newport Gaming Players Club
Newport Gaming has players’ club managed by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the casino’s operator and owner. It has five tier levels, and at this time, spending $5 will earn you one point. There is a $5 minimum redemption policy.
Upon joining, you’ll allowed to play a game on a kiosk to win free play between $10 and $10,000. If you provide them with a valid email address, the program will send you another $5 in free play.
Tier level point requirements are:
- Choice for new guests
- Advantage for those who have earned 1,000 points
- Preferred after earning 18,000 points
- Elite after earning 50,000 points
- The Owners Club after earning 200,000 points.
One membership rule worthy of note is that guests using other guest’s cards may have their loyalty club membership terminated and all benefits revoked.
At the cost of $5 per club point, I spent $960 today at Newport Gaming. However, I paid $143 as my bankroll dropped from $300 to $157. Meaning, I cycled by bankroll a little more than twice my original bankroll.
My Newport Gaming Slots Experience
Upon arrival, I spoke with a casino manager at the cashier’s cage about some of the details of Newport Gaming. For instance, this casino opened a year ago after some difficulties.
We also discussed the nature of Historic Horse Racing machines, how they got started in Oaklawn in Arkansas, and that the business plan of manufacturers of these games want to expand to all U.S. states which forbid slot machines but allow pari-mutuel horse racing.
Newport Gaming has about 500 HHR games which look almost exactly like Vegas-style slot machines. Under game rules, you can begin to spot major differences including the date and results for many horseraces being used to determine the outcome of any bets of that machine.
After walking in, I tested for my 5-spin strategy on these HHR machines. I made minimum bets on twenty penny machines, all prominently displayed as much as they could be for such a small casino. Have I mentioned that Newport Gaming is with a mall of outdoor facing stores? Well, it is.
Of these twenty machines, I won within the first five bets on fifteen of them. That’s great. Newport Gaming has the 5-spin method.
However, the returns were terrible. I started with $100 and, after playing twenty machines, I had $71.34 left. That makes my player win% 71% and the casino hold percent 19%. Most of my wins were only a few cents.
But not all my wins were a few cents. One machine had a nice win when testing my 5-spin method. Upon completing the test, I decided to play and evaluate this specific slot machine. I played it and, while the first twenty bets had a few wins large enough to keep me playing, at around 100 bets I decided it wasn’t worth playing that machine any longer.
When I first arrived, I noticed someone had gotten a jackpot for $1,500. It was the first and last hand pay I saw here. I took my remaining bankroll of about $200 and played that machine. It was fun.
I slowly lost money playing it, but I have fond members of winning on WoF machines elsewhere. I even got a couple of spins. I varied my bets sizes from 60-cents to $4.70.
The person who won that $1,500 hand pay sat next to me and chatted with me. My remaining $200 bankroll lasted just over one hour.
Once my bankroll ran out, I recalled that I’d won $10 in free play earlier. It wasn’t accessible on the WoF machine I’d been playing, so I found another slot machine. This second HHR machine, a Celestial King, was on the next row toward the entrance but facing in the same direction.
I’d not played this machine before but loved the way it faced down the same long hallway as the HHR machine that had gotten the $1,500 hand pay. I sat down, accessed my $10 in free play, and started making $1.50 bets.
On my second bet, with $7 in free play remaining, I won a bonus round which in turn won three bonus rounds for longer play and a bigger win. By the time it was over, about 10 minutes later, I’d won $157.28.
I cashed out of the machine with what I’d won, played the remaining $7 in free play without any hits, then left the casino. All-in-all, I had a pleasant visit to Newport Gaming.
Summary of Newport Gaming
Newport Gaming in Kentucky, located just south over the Ohio River from Cincinnati, offers Historic Horse Racing (HHR) style slot machines.
This post highlights my pre-trip research and subsequent onsite gameplay over a two-hour session.