Most people know that it’s just as important to make the right decision on where to play as it is to decide what to play. All games are not created equal and there are not only differences between them in terms of favorability for players among individual games at different locations. This is most pronounced in a highly competitive gambling market like Las Vegas. Las Vegas isn’t what it once was as far as a competitive casino gaming marketplace but it is still the best land based casino market in the United States. This site and other casino gambling sites spend a lot of time talking about *where* to play to get the best odds and the most player friendly rules and deservedly so. This sort of information can spell the difference between profits and losses. Equally as important, however, is to know where *not* to play and this is particularly true with slot machines.

So what are the characteristics of a place that you shouldn’t play slots? Simply put, some places categorically offer lower return percentages than other places. While it is true that you can find a variety of payouts among casinos and even within the same casino the majority of these properties are within the same competitive continuum. This is not always true outside of the casino. Since slot machines are legal in a dwindling number of locations outside of casinos there are many places that a player looking to turn a profit playing the slots should avoid.

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At one point, the primary goal of the Nevada Gaming regulatory bodies–the Nevada Gaming Commission and the Nevada Gaming Control Board–was as close to an objective arbiter of casino gambling as you’d find in the entire world. The biggest concerns of Nevada gaming regulators was to make sure that games were conducted ‘on the square’ and that gaming licenses holders paid their bills. There was some degree of favoritism (you’ve seen that in the Martin Scorsese movie ‘Casino’) but it was on more of a personal level of corruption than a wide scale mandate. Some people in a position of influence used their station to benefit themselves which is found in every political system throughout history. These individuals notwithstanding, the overriding interest of Nevada gaming regulators was to protect the integrity of the state’s biggest industry for the benefit of the entire ‘Silver State’.

Today, things are drastically different. The Nevada gaming regulatory bodies very transparently do what the big land based casino companies want them to do. And what they want them to do is to consolidate all of the power and revenue in the state’s gambling industry into their hands. This means eliminating current competition, writing gaming regulations to prevent future competition and even such minutia as regulating individual games and their rules to benefit the big casino corporations. At one point, there were a variety of locations that could offer slot machines including laundromats, bowling alleys, drugstores, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. One by one, the major casino corporations have crossed locations off this list. It’s ‘Economics 101’ that the less competition you have in a market the worse it is for consumers and that’s precisely what is happening in Nevada.


  • The Airport: There are plenty of slot machines at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas as well as in the Reno-Tahoe International Airport serving Northern Nevada. These should be avoided like the plague. They’re clean, well run and offer many up-to-date models. In fact, the airport has a professional gambling business operate these games usually (surprise, surprise) one of the major casino corporations. These games invariably offer the lowest payout percentages of any location in the area. Sadly, as Nevada has let the quality of its gaming industry atrophy the casinos have started to catch up to the airport by offering tighter, less player friendly games. For now, however, there’s nowhere worse to play than the airport.
  • Convenience Stores: At one point in Nevada’s history, if you owned a small convenience store you could buy (or lease) slot machines to offer in your business. That’s no longer the case and the convenience store slots and video poker machines are also controlled by a limited number of corporations. You’ll still find them if you go to any of the major name brand stores–7-11, AM/PM, Circle K–but they’re not much better than the airport.
  • Grocery Stores: Grocery stores are a similar deal to casinos. They’re controlled by a large corporation that leases the space from the grocery store chain. That’s why they’re still legal (for now). They may offer marginally better odds than the previous two venues but not by much.