I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, and I am sorry to report that the deterioration of the games I reported on earlier (see https://capitolview.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/better-gambling-at-home-than-in-las-vegas/) continues. Although I did not visit the Cosmopolitan this time, I have heard that all 9/6 Jacks or Better machines have been removed from that venue (that is why I did not visit the Cosmopolitan this trip). Also, I was surprised to discover that 9/6 Jacks was gone from the Mirage. It’s distressing that these somewhat classy venues cannot offer a decent (but by no means the best, and one still favoring the house) video poker game even at a relatively high level, say $5.00 (which means the player has to deposit $25.00 per spin).
In essence, when a casino worsens its games, it is increasing the cost to its customers of playing them. In a bad economy, is this really a good way to increase profits? For example, reducing the flush payout in $5 Jacks or Better from 30 to 25 costs the full-coin player $25 for each flush. I suppose (and the casinos hope) many players do not notice, or even care about, the reduction in value, but my experience leads me to believe that those playing at higher levels do. A flush appears on average once every 90 hands. I have heard of playing speeds of up to 1,000 hands an hour, but let’s assume a very conservative 200 hands per hour, in which case the reduction of the flush payout costs the player an additional $50 per hour. Unless the reduction is offset with better comps, or unique attractions that justify a trip, I suspect more and more people, especially the higher rollers, will keep their gambling dollars at home if they can find a better return there in comparable surroundings with comparable amenities.