Casino Statistics
February 11, 2012 2:57 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out how much the average casino gambler (anywhere) spends/loses per hour.

I've been googling for a couple hours, I've gone through statistical reports for Vegas, Singapore, South Africa and Canada but I cannot get a stat for loses per hour. The closest I can get to any amount is budget per trip, or amount lost per month or year. Are there industry terms that might help me in my search? Is this info even out there?
posted by Partario to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: There isn't really any "average gambler". Usually we envision these kinds of things as bell curves, but for gambling it's more like a power-law curve, and the mean/mode/median don't really tell you anything about a power-law curve.

The largest number of patrons for most casinos are the people who play slots. They also bet the least, and lose the least. (Interestingly, they're also the most profitable for the casino, because of low labor cost to support their gambling.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:13 PM on February 11, 2012

Chocolate Pickle, thanks— can you cite that or recommend further reading? I'm also interested now :)
posted by yaymukund at 3:24 PM on February 11, 2012

According to this, on a visit to Vegas the average gambler gambles 4 hours a day, for 3.7 days, and budgets $581 for gaming. It is not clear that that is what they lose, but if so that works out to just over $39/hr. Seems reasonable.
posted by cosmac at 4:34 PM on February 11, 2012

Sorry, I don't have anything for you.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:15 PM on February 11, 2012

Best answer: This is a difficult question to answer - Chocolate Pickle is right, it's hard to define an 'average' gambler, much less an average for one person, because of the vast number of variables involved. Here's some examples with some more 'specific' data:

Let's assume the player plays blackjack at an average bet of $10. Let's also assume there is a full table of 7 players, which with an average speed dealer gives you about 50 hands per hour. That's a total of $500 wagered.

If you assume an experienced player with nearly perfect play, you can give a .50%-1% house edge - specific table rules raise or lower this slightly, but 1% is a reasonable assumption. This means that a good player with a $10 average bet will lose an average of $5 per hour.

Now let's take a novice player with the same average bet - $10 - who doesn't play perfect, and is alone at the table. Imperfect play can skew house edge to 5-10% or even more. With the now 200 hands per hour that the lone player will play, and a conservative 5% house edge due to imperfect play, the average loss per hour jumps to $40/hr (200 hands x $10 x 5%). You can see where this is going. Double the average bet, double the loss figures.

So then what's 'average', in order to actually answer your question? Based on experience, I'd put the average bet at $20, average of 4 players at the table (80 hands/hr), and halfway decent play and house rules putting the house edge at 1.5%. This gives an average loss of $24/hr.

Now, that's for Blackjack. I won't go into the details of other table games, but another item to explore is slots.

For slots, the answer is dependent on what how you want to look at it - are you looking for a long-term (as in years) average across millions of gamblers? The main thing is the variance in return on slots is much, much greater. In blackjack, it's going to be quite uncommon to sit down with $200 and lose that, or double it, within an hour, with a $10 bet. With slots, it's possible - and easier - to lose a whole lot more in that hour - but it's also possible, if relatively rare, to come out much farther ahead.

Again, there are a ton of variables to consider:
- How many spins per hour can you get? Some machines are much quicker than others, and some people are a little more obsessive about spinning as quickly as possible than others.
- What denomination are you playing? Big difference between a penny machine and a dollar machine.
- What is the return on the machine? This can vary from as little as 85% or even less for tight machines, to nearly 100% for perfect video poker play. This varies from casino to casino as well.

Specific Average Example #2:
A player plays a $1/pull slot machine at a rate of 600 pulls per hour (that's conservative, think about it - one pull every six seconds. I've seen little old ladies double that rate), on a machine with 90% payback. That's an average loss of $60/hour. The term 'average' is much more applicable here, since the complete payback percentage on a slot machine is based on time periods often measured in months or even years before its actual payback percentage can be expected to 'stabilize' close to its true payback figure. It's far more likely than blackjack that the player will walk away after an hour having lost - or won - much more than they would have playing blackjack, even with an average bet one-tenth the size.

Now, this is based on US casinos and my experience many years ago as a casino dealer and pit boss. The definition of an 'average' gambler would vary greatly between countries I would expect, so you have an idea of why it's difficult to get concrete information on this. Hopefully this long-winded post helped though.

tl;dr extremely rough guess: Average player loses $24/hour playing blackjack, $60/hour playing slots.
posted by SquidLips at 10:51 PM on February 11, 2012

Best answer: Another potentially irrelevant example, just because I was curious and bored:

3Q 2010 Bellagio net revenue: $132.4m (source)
Estimated visitors in 1 quarter: 1.25 million (source)

This equates to the Bellagio making net revenue of $106 from every person who walked in the door.
posted by SquidLips at 11:03 PM on February 11, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks guys. I think I've got a better handle on the info now.
posted by Partario at 3:31 PM on February 12, 2012

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