Some Vegas Casinos Have Cut the Payout on Blackjack

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A change in blackjack payouts leaves players at a bigger disadvantage.

If you’re looking to play blackjack in Las Vegas, you need to know that some Vegas casino operators are changing their blackjack payouts.

Earlier this year, Las Vegas Sands, which owns the Venetian and the Palazzo casinos, altered its payouts from three-to-two to six-to-five, according to Pacific Standard. Here’s a different way to look at it: A $10 blackjack hand no longer wins $15. The payout is $12 instead.

In blackjack, players try to get cards whose face value adds up to 21, or as close as possible to 21, without going over.

Henry Tamburin, a gambler, gaming instructor and author, equates the payout change to a hidden tax on players. According to Pacific Standard:

Tamburin says a player can expect to hit a blackjack about once every 21 hands. At an average of 80 hands an hour, that translates to the house snatching an extra $12 out of players’ hands every 60 minutes. Spread that over every player at every table at a casino and you can see why pit bosses might go all in on six-to-five.

It appears that other casinos may be following Las Vegas Sands’ lead. Tamburin said he’s noticed more six-to-five games in recent months.

“Up until about a year ago, most of the six-to-five games were low-limit and single-deck games,” Tamburin says. Single-deck blackjack games are generally considered the most player-friendly because they allow players to better anticipate which cards may be coming. “Now these casino bosses have boldly implemented six-to-six on two-deck and six-deck games and they’re even doing it on higher-minimum tables.”

The timing of this payout change is curious. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority said visitors who reported gambling during their stay dropped from 86 percent in 2006 to 71 percent in 2013.

Blackjack is also waning in popularity in Vegas. It used to account for more than half of casino revenues in the mid-1980s, according to Pacific Standard. Now, blackjack makes up less than 25 percent of house revenue. So you’d think you’d want to encourage more people to play, not potentially chase them off.

What do you think of changes to the blackjack payout? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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