For decades, the majority of the advertising you may have seen for Atlantic City casinos has centered around how loose the slot machines are.
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Slots are the most popular games in any casino and Atlantic City casinos have been trying to draw you in by promising the loosest slots in town. What they’re really saying is their slots pay out at a better rate than the competition. Some can even prove it using data from the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE).
Atlantic City casinos are in the opposite situation, getting only about a third of its revenue from non gambling activities, which means that for every gambling dollar spent, Las Vegas resorts earn $2 in non gambling revenue, and Atlantic City casinos. Open casinos Bally’s Atlantic City. Bally’s Atlantic City began life in 1979 as Bally’s Park Place. It later expanded to include the Claridge and Hi-Ho casinos. Bally’s is one of three casinos in Atlantic City owned by Caesars Entertainment. It is located on the southeast corner of Michigan and Pacific avenues and backs up to the Boardwalk.
The NJDGE puts out the Atlantic City Casino Industry Casino Win Data report annually. It lists, by denomination, how much money the slots at every Atlantic City casino is taking in every year and how much of it they’re keeping. From there, it’s easy enough to extrapolate the Return To Player rates for slots at all nine Atlantic City casinos.
If you’re playing slots online you might not think this has much to do with you. That’s wrong. For the most part, the online slots you find at New Jersey online casinos are the very same ones you see on the gaming floor at Atlantic City casinos.
These days, almost 99% of slot machines are computerized. At Atlantic City casinos, the computer programs that run the slots are housed in the slot cabinets you find in banks all across the gaming floor. At NJ online casinos the very same computer programs run on servers you can access on the internet.
Since most of the games are the same, it would follow that the Return To Player rates for most of the slots at Atlantic City casinos are the same as the ones you’ll find at online casinos or in some cases, better.
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What Does Return to Player Mean?
The odds of winning at any casino game are often expressed in something called the Return To Player rate (RTP). It’s the opposite of the house edge the casinos enjoy on the games.
Essentially, return-to-player is the expected return a player can see, also referred to as payout percentage. The return is based around the life-expectance of the game, which in the case of online slots, is essentially infinity.
That means a game with a 90% RTP will pay back $90 for every $100 played on it.
The thing is, the payout percentage is based on long term performance of the slot machine. In other words, you’re not guaranteed to get $90 out of a game you just put $100 into.
It will take many, many sessions before you can estimate the RTP.
However, the slot machine payout percentage is a strong indicator of what you can expect from a casino game over the long haul. For slots in particular, RTP is far and away the best way to tell if a game is loose or tight.
Atlantic City Slot Machine Payouts
A look at the numbers in the 2018 Atlantic City Casino Industry Casino Win Data report tells us that Atlantic City casino slots had an overall average RTP of 92.11% in 2018. That’s a pretty good number for players because it means $92.11 of every $100 put into Atlantic City casino slots was paid back in prizes to those same players.
So, who really had the loosest slots in America’s playground in 2018? Here’s a look at the best Atlantic City slot machine payouts.
- Golden Nugget 93.15%
- Borgata 92.01%
- Harrah’s 91.97%
- Resorts 91.89%
- Tropicana 91.81%
- Bally’s 91.73%
- Caesars 91.67%
- Ocean Resort 91.45%
- Hard Rock 91.28%
Golden Nugget Atlantic City had the loosest slots in 2018. In fact, Golden Nugget’s $0.50 slots were the loosest in all of Atlantic City paying out a 98.5% RTP on the $2,750,730 they took in.
Penny slots might be the most attractive in Atlantic City casinos because they appear to cost the least to play. However, the average RTP of 88.7% for $0.01 and $0.02 slots in Atlantic City casinos in 2018 suggests they may not be the best bet. In fact, the $0.01 and $0.02 slots at Bally’s and Harrah’s offered the worst RTP in AC at 87.6%.
Ultimately, the data suggest if you can find a $.50 slot machine at an Atlantic City casino you should probably play it. The average RTP for $.50 slot machines at all Atlantic City casinos is 94.1%.
The next best bet is the high roller $25 slot machines, which posted an average RTP at all Atlantic City casinos of 93.4%.
AC Slots vs. Online Slots
Unfortunately, the NJDGE does not release this kind of specific Casino Win Data for NJ online casinos. That means we can’t tell you how online slot machines actually performed over that same period of time.
Fortunately, some real money casinos list the expected payout percentages for most slots in the description of the game. That means we can look at a selection of games you can find both at AC casinos and online and figure out an average expected RTP for those slots online.
Top 10 AC Slots Available Online
Here’s a look at the Top 10 AC Slots that are also available online and the RTP listed for the games at Golden Nugget Online Casino:
- Quick Hit Platinum:A retro Vegas classic five-reel and 30-payline slot with an RTP of 94.06%. Features include a progressive jackpot, free games, wild symbols, and the instant-win Quick Hit pays feature.
- Wolf Run: Forest-themed five-reel and 40-payline slot with an RTP of 94.98%. Features include an Auto Play function, bonus rounds, stacked wilds, free spins, and high quality wolf graphics.
- China Shores: A Chinese panda-themed five-reel and 30-payline slot with an RTP of 96.10%. Features include Asian-inspired symbols, a progressive jackpot, free games, and the ability to exchange free games for a random prize.
- Fu Dao Le: An Asian-inspired five-reel and 243-ways-to win slot with an RTP of 96%. Features include clumped wilds, mystery symbols, a free games bonus feature, a Red Envelope Jackpot, and a jackpot bonus feature with three jackpots.
- DaVinci Diamonds: An old-world Italian artistry themed five-reel and 20-payline slot with an RTP of 94.94%. Features include tumbling reels, free spins, scatters, and a bonus round.
- Hot Roll Super Times Pay: A classic Vegas dice game-themed five-reel and 20-payline slot with an RTP of 93.4%. Features include wilds, Hot Roll symbols and bonuses, and wild multipliers.
- Siberian Storm: An Siberian winter and white tiger-themed five-reel and 720-ways-to win slot with an RTP of 95%. Features include free spins and wild symbols. There’s also a Dual Play version of the game with 1440 / 2880 lines and an RTP of 94.22%. It’s features include the MultiWay Xtra feature with 1440 ways to win, a stacked wilds feature, and free spins bonus.
- 88 Fortunes: A classic Chinese-themed five-reel and 243-ways-to win slot with an RTP of 96%. Features include a free games feature, Fu Bat pick win bonus round, and Fu Bat Jackpot symbols giving you a chance to win one of four progressive jackpots.
- Dancing Drums: Another Asian-inspired five-reel and 243-ways-to win slot with an RTP of 96%. Features include wilds, free spins, scatters, the FU BABIES Jackpot Bonus and Free Spins Bonus.
- Zeus: A greek mythology-themed five-reel and 30-payline slot with an RTP of 95.97%. Features include free spins and a free games feature offering up to 100 free games.
RTP online versus live
The 10 slot machines listed above have an average payout percentage of 95.15%, which is even better than the AC best 93.15% RTP average of all slots on the Golden Nugget Atlantic City casino floor posted in 2018.
This suggests you’d be better off playing the games online than at a land-based casino. That may very well be the case, but before we declare that the slots at online casinos are looser than the same games at land-based casinos in AC, we should remind you of some important distinctions between the numbers.
First of all, the land-based casino RTP numbers are based on real data over the course of a year provided to the NJDGE by Atlantic City casinos. The online casino RTP numbers are basically theoretical and could take longer than a year to be realized.
Plus, the land-based casino RTP numbers are formed using actual data from every slot on the floor of an Atlantic City casino in 2018. The online casino numbers are theoretical RTP figures for just 10 games found at both land-based and online casinos in New Jersey.
Can I earn comps at AC casinos for playing online?
If you play slots online instead of at an Atlantic City casino you might think you’ll miss out on all kinds of comps, bonuses, and player loyalty rewards you’d otherwise earn. That’s wrong. Several online casinos offer the same comps, bonuses, and player loyalty rewards you earn on the gaming floor at Atlantic City casinos.
In fact, many online casinos will provide loyalty programs that allow you to earn points at their land-based locations or earn credits for the land-based program, thereby allowing you to both earn and redeem at the online casino or retail location.
Here’s a list of the online casinos where players can earn comps at Atlantic City casinos when they play online:
Caesars Casino & Sports – Caesars Rewards Card
Caesars Rewards offers the Tier and Reward Credits for betting online at the Caesars Online Casino. Caesars Rewards properties in Atlantic City include Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City, and Harrah’s Atlantic City.
BetMGM – iRewards Loyalty
BetMGM offers two rewards programs, one for online players, called iRewards Loyalty Program and the other for brick-and-mortar players. You can exchange your iRewards Points into Express Comps and use it at any MGM Resorts destination in the US, including Borgata in Atlantic City.
Golden Nugget Online Casino – Golden Rewards Program
Golden Nugget offers its own proprietary Golden Rewards program online. However, Golden Rewards members enjoy benefits and perks at Golden Nugget Atlantic City.
Harrah’s Online Casino – Caesars Rewards Card
You can earn comp points at Harrah’s online casino and convert them to your standard Caesars Rewards account.
SugarHouse Online Casino – iRush Rewards Program
SugarHouse provides a unique rewards program called iRush Rewards program. The rewards program is available at both both NJ and PA casinos. You can use these comp points at the Philadelphia SugarHouse Casino.
The online slots advantage
The truth is that online casinos are a lot more convenient for most people than their land-based partners.
If you want to play slots at an Atlantic City casino you must go out of pocket for transportation costs and unless you live next door to one, it’s going to take some time to travel there.
In contrast, you can login and start spinning online in a matter of minutes with no additional travel costs.
Since the slots are mostly the same at AC casinos and NJ online casinos, the fact online is more convenient and less costly makes NJ online casinos the obvious choice between the two. Plus, even though it’s theoretical, the fact you might enjoy a better RTP online than live makes the decision between the two a no brainer.
With RTPs over 90%, we recommend doing both. But if you have to choose one or the other there’s simply too many advantages to playing slots online over AC casinos to ignore.
Latest Atlantic City casino news
In 1977, New Jerseylegalized gambling within the confines of Atlantic City. In that time, numerous casinos have come, gone, or rebranded themselves on the Jersey Shore.
With so much flux in America’s Playground, it’s important to keep a running list of what options are available to Atlantic City residents and visitors.
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See below for the most up-to-date information about which casinos are open in Atlantic City.
Total gambling options at Atlantic City casinos
|Casino||Slot Machines||Table Games||Poker Tables||Owner|
|Hard Rock||2,103||152||n/a||Hard Rock International |
|Ocean Resort||1,907||107||8||Luxor Capital Group|
Bally’s Atlantic City
Bally’s Atlantic City began life in 1979 as Bally’s Park Place. It later expanded to include the Claridge and Hi-Ho casinos.
Bally’s is one of three casinos in Atlantic City owned by Caesars Entertainment. It is located on the southeast corner of Michigan and Pacific avenues and backs up to the Boardwalk.
Bally’s has no NJ gambling site or online sportsbook to its name. However, it shares an NJ online gambling license with its sister casinos, Caesars and Harrah’s. As such, the following sites are nested under Bally’s license in New Jersey:
Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa opened in 2003. Its proposition was unusual for Atlantic City in that it sought to create a Las Vegas-type feeling inside the casino, rather than jamming the floor with slot machines.
Borgata featured 200 table games and a 34-table poker room. Its timing could not have been better for the latter, as Chris Moneymaker’s WSOP Main Event win generated unprecedented interest in poker.
Borgata expanded its poker room to 85 tables (at the time) and became the dominant poker venue on the East Coast. The success carried over to the rest of the property.
It emerged as the New Jersey revenue leader in 2005 and has never relinquished that title. As of January 2019, the entire property’s year-to-date revenue far exceeds that of any other Atlantic City casino.
MGM Resorts International owns Borgata. The casino is located at the northwest corner of Huron Avenue and Brigantine Boulevard. It is one of three AC casinos in the Atlantic City Marina District.
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CaesarsAtlantic City opened in 1979 as the Boardwalk Regency. At the time, it was only the second legal casino in Atlantic City.
Since then, its name has changed twice, going from the Boardwalk Regency to the Caesars Boardwalk Regency before settling on its current appellation.
The casino is located at the southwest corner of Pacific and Arkansas avenues. It is also on the Boardwalk and adjoins its sister property, Bally’s.
NJ gambling sites connected to Caesars are nested under the Bally’s online gambling license. However, one site carries Caesars’ name: Caesars Casino & Sports (online sportsbook and casino).
The Golden Nugget name in Atlantic City is somewhat unusual in the sense that it has applied to different casinos over time. The first incarnation was on the Boardwalk and ended its life at Atlantic Club Casino Hotel when it closed in 2013.
The current version, properly known as Golden Nugget Atlantic City, is in the Marina District. It grew out of the former Trump Marina.
Landry’s, the parent company of Golden Nugget, applied the name to the former Trump property after its purchase in 2011. Landry’s also spent $150 million to renovate the facility into its present condition.
Golden Nugget Atlantic City is located at the eastern end of Huron Avenue in the Atlantic City Marina District.
While Borgata is the leader of land-based gambling revenue, Golden Nugget and its partners rule NJ online gambling. Monthly revenue for Golden Nugget is often double that of its closest competitor.
Hard Rock Atlantic City is a brand-new property. It opened its doors on June 28, 2018.
The casino hotel occupies the former Trump Taj Mahal. The Seminole Tribeof Florida bought the defunct property in 2017.
After its purchase, Hard Rock spent $500 million renovating the entire property. The new ownership erased any vestiges of its India-themed predecessor.
Hard Rock is located on Pacific Avenue and straddles Virginia Avenue. The property backs up to the Boardwalk.
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Harrah’s Atlantic City was the first AC casino built away from the Boardwalk. The fact that the property has endured for all these years is a testament to Harrah’s management.
Harrah’s is home to five different hotel towers — Atrium, Bayview, Harbor, Marina, and Waterfront. The most recent, Waterfront, was completed in 2008. However, Harrah’s renovated the Bayview Tower in 2017.
Harrah’s Atlantic City is located northwest of Brigantine Boulevard just before it crosses the Absecon Inlet. It is in the Atlantic City Marina District.
Like its sister casinos (Caesars and Bally’s), Harrah’s shares its online gambling license. But it does have an online casino with its name on it.
Ocean Resort Casino opened its doors on June 28, 2018. The new casino is a renovated version of the defunct Revel, which closed after two years of operation.
Unlike its predecessor, Ocean Resort emphasizes the customer experience for mid-level bettors and visitors. The resort boasts a TopGolfSwing Suite facility, a Wahlburgers, six pools, and a state-of-the-art NJ sports betting facility.
However, in January 2019, just seven months after opening, the casino changed hands again. Former owner Bruce Deifik turned over ownership to Luxor Capital Group.
The rebranded Ocean Casino is located at the southwest corner of Oriental and Metropolitan avenues. It is on the Boardwalk, and management has removed the wall that used to separate the property from the famous walkway.
Resorts Atlantic City
Resorts Atlantic City is a property with an unmistakable claim to fame. It was the very first casino built in Atlantic City.
On May 26, 1978, Resorts opened its doors and became the first legal casino in the United States outside of Nevada. It was the only casino outside Nevada until Bally’s opened the following year.
Still, Resorts has kept chugging along while other properties have fallen by the wayside. It added a new hotel tower in 2004 and nearly doubled its number of available rooms.
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In 2011, the hotel and casino underwent a major renovation and adopted a Roaring Twenties theme. The buildings, personnel, and culinary offerings changed to recall the time period.
Resorts Atlantic City is one of the smaller casino properties on the Boardwalk. It is located between North Carolina and Pennsylvania avenues, next door to the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
For online gambling, Resorts has picked a full slate of partnerships with recognizable names. As such, its online market share has improved considerably over the years.
- Resorts Casino
- PokerStars Casino
The Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City is one of the older properties in America’s Playground. It opened its doors in 1981 as the Tropicana Atlantic City.
Since then, the property has undergone several facelifts and name changes. In 1988, it opened an entertainment area called Tivoli Pier and changed its name to Tropworld Casino and Entertainment Resort.
Eight years later, Tivoli Pier closed, and management renovated the entire property and changed the name to its current label. In 2004, the property renovated further, creating a Cuban-themed shopping mall called The Quarter at Tropicana. It also owns the Chelsea Hotel next door.
The Trop was recently sold along with a few other properties to ElDorado Resorts and Gaming and Leisure Properties. Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City is located at the southeast corner of Pacific and South Brighton avenues.
- William Hill NJ (shares its license with Ocean Casino)
The Showboat opened its doors as the Showboat Casino, Hotel, and Bowling Center in March 1987. In 1995, the property renovated to use a Mardi Gras theme.
In 1998, Showboat became part of the Caesars Entertainment portfolio. The property built two additional towers in 2003 and 2004, but alas, the property shut its doors in 2014.
After changing hands twice, Philadelphia developer Bart Blatstein reopened the Showboat in July 2016. However, the new version of the property had no casino.
The future for the non-gaming hotel actually looks bright. The hotel recently opened a slew of new and renovated attractions.
Showboat will benefit from its unique location. The hotel is sandwiched between the two newest Atlantic City casinos — Ocean Resort Casino and Hard Rock Atlantic City.
Showboat may find lasting success as an overflow location or backup options for these properties. The property is located at the southwest corner of Pacific and Delaware avenues.
The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel
The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel closed its doors on Jan. 13, 2014. The shutdown concluded 34 years of operation for the property at the corner of Providence and Pacific avenues.
The Atlantic Club, which opened in 1980, was the city’s first Golden Nugget. Owner Steve Wynn ultimately sold the property seven years later to Bally Manufacturing, which renamed it to Bally’s Grand Hotel and Casino.
Financial woes led to multiple changes of ownership and multiple names. At various times, the property operated as the Atlantic City Hilton, the ACH, and finally, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
Its current owner is TJM Properties. Despite plans to reopen the hotel, first as a nongaming facility, then as a waterpark, the property remains empty and dormant.
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Trump Plaza opened its doors in 1984 as a joint venture between Harrah’s and Donald Trump before he was elected president. The property originally had 614 rooms and a 60,000-square-foot casino.
Trump then opened Trump Castle, and his business partner claimed a conflict of interest. So, Trump bought Harrah’s interest in the property and changed the name to its final incarnation.
After 30 years of operation and a bankruptcy, Trump Plaza closed its doors in 2014. The property sits dark to this day.