Introduction to Rising Costs
Rising costs are expected, yes. But sharp rises driven by the gaming industry to improve profits hurts slots enthusiasts. Let’s go over what, where, and how much prices are increasing.
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Increasing Minimum Bets
I’ve noticed something lately during my visits to casinos. Costs are going up, up, up! Have you seen that, too?
I don’t know why it took me so long. I mean, sure, I’d always placed maximum bets. Only lately I’ve begun to question whether that’s a good idea.
Now I’ve noticed how high minimum bets have gotten. What are other rising casino costs happening right under our noses?
On my latest casino trips, I’ve been trying out and testing slot machine evaluation methods as well as working on refinements to my 5-spin test method. Both use minimum bets, so that’s when it hit me in the face.
Minimum bets are increasing. We’ll need to keep an eye on in the future because there’s a question in my mind about these rising minimum bets. Have they stopped increasing yet??
Other Rising Costs
But the rising costs of going to a casino isn’t just due to increasing minimum bets. What else costs more? Well, what DOESN’T cost more lately.
Food, parking, valet, resort fees for hotel stays, and what appears to be lower player win percentages. Or, at least, wildly fluctuating returns, first up, then down, then up again like we’re on a roller-coaster.
Sometimes that’s our subjective feelings about our casino visits. Yet other times, it’s an objective observation if we use gambling records to track our performance trip-by-trip to casino-after-casino.
I’d somehow missed seeing that was happening until recently. When I asked my audience of slots enthusiasts about minimum bets increasing, they’ve informed me that the minimum bets are sometimes as low as thirty cents but more usually sixty cents or eighty-eight cents. I don’t have to tell you, that’s a lot!
What’s the lowest minimum bet you can find at your casino? A few audience members have mentioned that their casino still has 1-cent bets on penny machines. One of them goes to a remote casino in Washington and the other in New Zealand.
Shutting Out Low Bankroll Players
Raising the minimum bet at a casino is tough on the many slots enthusiasts who bring a $100 or $200 bankroll to a casino to play slots. These are not small bankrolls, or at least I don’t like to call them that because I believe any size bankroll is just fine.
But I must adjust my perception as minimum bets keep rising. How soon will they be over $1?
If you bring more than a $200 bankroll to the casino, your gameplay session has been shortened, too. It doesn’t matter how much your bankroll is, large or small when casinos raise minimum bets.
What will they do next, remove the 1-credit bet option on $5, $10, $25, and $100 denomination slot machines as they have on penny machines? That’s the direction where we’re headed.
Maybe the minimum bet size will stop rising like college tuition has. Tuition went up for decades but stopped growing a few years ago. Why?
Because universities reached the maximum cost a student and their parents could afford. Yes, they finally hit the maximum. But they found another way to effectively double how much tuition they were getting. How?
They’ve increased the number of students in classrooms. Instead of a class that would hold thirty students, they’re rebuilding campus buildings to have lecture halls holding a minimum of one hundred or more students instead of thirty students only.
Considering this tuition example, let’s examine the business consequences for casinos when raising minimum bets on slot machines. First, it’s risky because what if a nearby competitor doesn’t raise their minimum bets so high?
Well, that first casino’s patrons will be switched to the second casino with its lower minimum bets, with a corresponding loss of revenue at the first casino. This back-and-forth is how competition works.
Has this happened yet? As best I can tell, no. Nobody has made a big fuss over rising minimum bets. Nobody has raised the alarm. But maybe this article will?
Gaming competition has certainly happened elsewhere, though. On the river border between Illinois and Indiana, riverboat casinos on the Illinois side set up gaming regulations that required casinos to close for two hours in the morning.
A few months later, when Indiana set up their gaming regs, they allowed their riverboat casinos to be open 24 hours a day. Again, this is what competition looks within the gaming industry.
The Failure of Endless Resort Fees
Before the pandemic, many gaming channels and podcasts made a huge fuss over so-called resort fees. These miscellaneous charges got to be larger than the hotel occupancy charge for a room.
Universities did something similar by adding many small fees to keep per-credit charges low for advertising purposes, same as casinos are doing, yet still get massive revenue.
This effort to raise a fuss publicly for a year got the attention of a lot of people. And casinos started losing money despite the extra income from these resort fees. All that negative attention decreased their revenue.
Similarly, let’s kick up a fuss about the rising costs of minimum bets on slot machines.
Seriously, 30-cent minimum bets on penny machines? Why do they even call them penny machines anymore? Like high tuition at universities, they’re driving away customers that can no longer afford it.
Casinos think slots enthusiasts with bankrolls of $200 or less aren’t worth their time and attention. If so, that’s a huge mistake. To casinos that do this, I hope your competitors don’t notice your error.
Honestly, it’s a simple economic analysis. You have far more customers with bankrolls of $200 or less than you do customers which apparently are now your focus.
Don’t you know that slots players with bankrolls of $200 or less are your “bread-and-butter” patrons? They’re the lifeblood of your business.
And you’re driving them away by raising minimum bets. From a business perspective, this is terrible news for casinos’ future income. Don’t you know that? You should.
Unavoidable Inflation-Based Increases
Besides resort fees and minimum bets, there are other ways the cost of going to a casino increases. Unfortunately for casinos, it’s not something they have any control over. It’s food services.
While some casinos still have buffets, and I hear those in the Blackhawk, Colorado casinos are fantastic. But most casinos have closed their buffets for public health and safety reasons.
People need to eat. And if you’re a big eater, then buffets are a food source. I know they are for me. Well, they were.
Casino buffets are cheap places to get a meal, especially for foodies or individuals who otherwise love buffets. And those are gone. So, the food options available at casinos for the same piled-high plates are not as cheap. How can they be?
Maybe inflation-based rising costs will recede. Perhaps we won’t enter another like the Great Recession of 2007 thru 2009.
But a steady near 2% inflation happens even without recent cause-and-effect circumstances. Even if the gaming industry behaves, casino costs will continue to rise.
Summary of Rising Costs
Rising costs are an element of a healthy economy. But driving up costs to increase profits is something else entirely. And low bankroll slots enthusiasts are hurt the most by casinos.
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