Casinos in Pennsylvania and West Virginia have been giving out less slots free play lately.
Pennsylvania awarded the largest amount of free play in the 2012-13 fiscal year, when they gave out $681.2 million. But they only awarded $622.4 million in free play during the 2016-17 fiscal year.
West Virginia casinos gave away a peak of $93.9 million in free play in 2011-12. But this figure dropped to $74.3 million in the 2016-17 year.
Vince Manfredi, a casino consultant who helped introduce slots free play in North America, said that giving players free money is a nice way to introduce visitors to casinos. But Manfredi also told Trib Live that it’s not always the greatest approach.
“From operator’s point of view, there’s a cost to giving a player free pulls on a slot machine,” he said. “There’s an expense, and the expense has to be managed.”
Manfredi cautioned that some casino visitors only play enough to cash out their free play and don’t spend anything else.
Pennsylvania Still Tops in Free Slots Play
A report from Manfredi’s company shows that Pennsylvania leads a number of states in the amount of free play awarded. About 27 percent of their slots play is based on free money.
This report also includes casinos in Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Ohio. Nevada doesn’t require casinos to report how many free slots tickets they offer.
Why is Slots Free Play Declining?
Manfredi believes that two factors have resulted in free play dropping among many states.
One is that casinos counted on free play to attract players during the recession years from 2009-11. But casinos don’t need to offer as many freebies now that the economy is better.
The second factor is that slots-loving Baby Boomers are getting older. And this has led to a drop in the amount of free play being used.
“We’re in a state of flux,” said Manfredi. “The slot experience has to be reimagined to appeal to a younger audience.
“The younger person is not as inclined to play in a traditional slot experience because it doesn’t compare well with other kinds of electronic gaming experience. Where there is competition, there is socialization, there is more entertainment value through the animation.”