Heading to Vegas to play the slots is an exciting prospect. Whether you’re planning a quick trip, or a lengthy vacation you should know what to expect. This page explains all of the below in detail.
Walk into any Las Vegas casino and you'll be hit by a thousand flashing lights, buzzers and winning cheers.
Slot machines are the big draw of any Vegas casino. They're easy to play, the jackpots can be huge, and they make lots of money for the casino. That's why you'll have to navigate your way past banks of slots to get ANYWHERE. In addition, Vegas casinos pay a tiny amount of tax on their slots gaming revenue. It's no wonder they are keen to get in the machines.
Most games in Las Vegas are Class III slot machines. These are slots containing three or five reels which spin at random to produce an outcome. Like online slots, physical Vegas slot machines must be audited and tested to ensure fairness.
By law, Vegas slots machines have to have a minimum payout percentage of 75 percent. While this compares poorly to the post-95 percent RTPs of many online slots, the bright lights and promises of riches keep punters coming to Sin City. In truth, most Las Vegas slot machines have a rough Return to Player percentage in the high '80s to low '90s.
Slot machines in Las Vegas have a payout percentage that is usually in the low to mid 80s, while online slots offer a return of 95% to 99.7%.
Old-school nostalgists can still find classic mechanical slots in Vegas casinos. You may even find one-armed bandits for that extra retro feel.
Modern video slots usually come with five animated reels, and you might trigger a physical spinning wheel on top of the machine. Paytables are clearly displayed on the machine so players can find the various payouts and jackpots.
Another difference between Vegas slots and typical online slots is the coin denominations. It's typical to find a minimum bet on a Vegas slot machine of 25c, while $2-$3 will usually have to be bet to qualify for any progressive jackpots.
While most small slots wins won't be withheld, the IRS requires a portion of bigger jackpot wins to be deducted for tax.
This can range between 25 and 30 percent. US residents can produce a TIN (Taxpayer ID Number) when a jackpot is hit. The casino then hands out a W-2G IRS form for winners to take away. These wins can then be declared on the end-of-year tax return using an IRS Form 1040.
Some overseas gamblers can avoid tax if their home country doesn't tax gambling winnings (the United Kingdom, for example). Some form of ID like a passport needs to be produced, and a special form filled in, to avoid the deductions at source.
Like online progressive slots which are linked across multiple sites, so Las Vegas has slot machines linked to other machines in the city.
Some machines operate a progressive jackpot by itself, made up of a portion of bets on that one machine. These are called 'Standalone Progressives' and can be found in most Vegas casinos. The jackpots tend to be much smaller than progressives linked across multiple casinos.
Many of the biggest Vegas slots have what are called 'Wide Area Progressive Jackpots'.
These slot machines are linked across multiple casinos throughout Nevada. This increases the top jackpots and gives players the chance to win millions.
Alternatively, 'Local Area Network Jackpots' link many machines in a single location. For example, a casino in Las Vegas may have one jackpot covering many different slots.
It's not all about 50-year old 3-reel classics in Las Vegas. But some of the most popular games are the simple slots that just keep paying. However, as we have found, some of the biggest jackpots took decades to take down.
The Lion's Share
The Lion's Share was installed at the legendary MGM Grand casino in the early 1990s. The classic 3-reel layout and progressive jackpot attracted gamblers from all over the world, but the jackpot kept going unclaimed.
That all changed in 2014 when a 20-year jackpot was finally won. A New Hampshire couple holidaying in Vegas won a prize worth $2.4 million
So popular is the game that it even has its own Twitter account (@mgmlionsshare, if you want to follow). Under Nevada law, the machine can now be retired as its jackpot has finally been won. Whether MGM Grand decides to disappoint players on its most popular slot machine remains to be seen.
One of the most famous titles in the IGT (International Game Technology) arsenal, Megabucks isn't called 'The Millionaire Maker' for nothing.
The slot machine has made dozens of millionaires during its 30-year lifetime. To hit the jackpot you must be playing three coins ($3 total), and in 2003 a 25-year-old software engineer bagged the slot's biggest ever jackpot.
Bill Efritz won $39.7 million playing at Excalibur on The Strip. Just three years earlier, an LV cocktail waitress scooped $34.9 million playing the game, and more recently Megabuck doled out a $33 million top prize.
Players still flock to Las Vegas to pump dollars into the Megabucks machines. The MGM Grand alone saw two $10 million+ wins on the game in 2013.
Wheel of Fortune
Much-imitated and adapted, but never beaten, IGT's Wheel of Fortune slot continues to award million-dollar jackpots to its players.
To hit the jackpot you must pay two coins, or bets of $2, with the top prize reset to a million bucks once it's been hit.
The biggest feature of Wheel of Fortune is the physical spinning wheel on top of the machine itself. Trigger the bonus round and the wheel, or wheels, spin to give players the chance of hitting the top prize.
While Wheel of Fortune never reaches the heights of Megabucks in terms of jackpots, it has produced a steady stream of millionaires during its lifetime.
Money Vault Millionaires Seven
Bally Technologies has been producing slot machines for Vegas casinos for decades. But the developer has been relatively light on the big jackpot payouts.
That changed in 2012 when the five-reel video slot at the Bellagio paid a US Marine a jackpot worth $2.9 million. The wide-area progressive jackpot is played in Native casinos across the country, as well as Nevada's biggest casinos. The top jackpot seeds at $1 million, a major reason for its history of big wins.