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A combination of game mix and “tighter” slots has driven a consistent uptrend in slot hold percentage over the past 15 years. Slot hold refers to the percentage of dollars played that is kept by the casino as win or revenue. The increasing popularity of video slots and penny slots has led to a more favorable hold mix for the casinos. Casinos can also tighten slots so that customers win less often. So in other words, consumers are getting less and less paid back to them in winnings for every dollar they put in.

Hold percentage can be viewed as pricing. Slot pricing has gone up for the consumer, similar to hotel rates, F&B, entertainment, and everything else in Las Vegas as we’ve been writing about. Room rates are already falling and F&B pricing are probably not far behind. Looser slots could surely expedite the margin compression scenario discussed in our 6/22/08 posting.