The Vegas Airport Slots Experience through a Total Amateur’s Eyes

Las Vegas is one of the few places in the world where you can play slot machines in airports. I myself have played Vegas airport slots plenty of times while waiting for the plane ride home.

To me, it’s as normal as anything to plunk down on the slots at McCarran International Airport. But what’s it like for a total slots noob?

I recently read an interesting account by San Antonio Express-News writer Chuck Blount. And here are some of the main points he offered – including his solid win.

Struggling with the Bad Reputation of Vegas Airport Slot Machines

Here’s the golden rule to playing slot machines in Vegas: don’t play at the airport!

The WizardofOdds points out that the McCarran airport’s average slots payback is 85.02%.

That’s terrible! In fact, it’s the worst in Vegas!

Blount struggled with this too, writing the following:

“The machines have a notorious reputation as that last ounce of blood money to be squeezed from the wallets of outgoing tourists. At certain casino properties, the slot payout percentages are openly advertised, although this is getting rarer by the day. The airport staff won’t tell you theirs either, because, frankly, they have no idea because there are more than 1,300 units spread throughout the facility. All the attendant could tell me was they were regularly inspected by state regulators.”

Playing a Penny Slot Machine that Costs More than a Penny

As I’ve discussed before, penny slot machines aren’t always what they appear. And Blount figured this out really quickly:

“So with my two hours to burn, I plopped a $50 bill into a “penny” machine that is legally allowed to be grossly mislabeled when the minimum bet was 80 cents per spin (that increased in those increments) with the option for as much as $3.20 max-bet spin.”

Big Winner at the Airport

Given the payback percentage we covered before, the odds were against Blount.

But the writer still managed a win, as you can see below:

“The minimum was wagered the first 10 spins as I settled into the game, with only a few free spins won. But it looked like something was about to happen, so I pressed to the 160 bets to chase the losses and my $50 was down to about $10.

“That was when the first good payout hit, about $35, getting almost back to even.

“I pressed again to the 240 after another dose of nothing spins. The machine went slightly insane, spewing coins into my till at a feverish pace.

“I applied my gambling math wits and cashed out for about $100. A small profit that’s nothing to brag about, but in the world of notoriously stingy airport slots, any win is a win.”

Final Takeaway

If you’re a serious slots player who only wants to play games with the best payback, then you’ll do well to avoid the airport.

But if you’re somebody who’s waiting for a flight layover, then the airport games won’t destroy your bankroll.

In fact, they can pay too, just like Blount found out.

Just don’t make the airport slot machines your first stop, though, on a trip to Vegas.