If you like to gamble and have been to a casino or racino and played slots and also bet on horse races, you may have wondered which one is a better deal. Of course, that is easy to answer if all you are looking for is an entertaining diversion. If all you seek is entertainment then the answer is as simple as asking yourself, “Which one did I enjoy the most?”
On the other hand, if you are interested in the economics of the question, or perhaps trying to stretch your dollar a little farther, then let’s consider some of the pluses and minuses of each gambling venue. First of all, let’s talk about the cost as far as takeout is concerned.
Riverboats usually don’t give as good odds as land based casinos when it comes to the payback on games. While slots in some states pay as little as 70% to consumers, other places with more competition, like Las Vegas, for instance payback more than the state law requires.
The state of Nevada requires a payback of at least 75% on slots but many casinos pay back closer to 95%. Factor in the perks that they offer and a smart consumer can get close to 100% value if you consider free meals and other goodies they offer. So shopping around and taking advantage of the casino incentives can bring the cost of playing slots down close to even. But of course, in order to play there you have to be there and that can be pricey.
When it comes to horse racing, the picture is not so rosy. The takeout on win bets in the best of states is around 15% but that doesn’t factor in breakage. Realistically, the horse player pays at least 20% for the privilege of playing the ponies. On top of that, few race tracks offer free admission like casinos do and since Hinsdale closed in New Hampshire, I’m not aware of any free lunches being served trackside.
There is a bright side, however, to the prospects for gambling on horses or dogs, for that matter. The slot machine offers little chance to improve the odds while a good handicapper and a master of money management may actually improve his or her chances of winning at the race track. Luck will always play a part in any speculative human endeavor, but good handicapping will certainly tip the scales in a horse player’s favor.
On the other hand, if you are strictly a numbers player and don’t get a lot of enjoyment out of watching horses race, the casino may be the place for you. I enjoy the races because they are live events and the horses are beautiful. It is a real live sporting event with magnificent athletes and plenty of good old fashioned drama. You just can’t get that from a slot machine, though I have to admit, the casino buffets are mighty tempting.