Travel Fanboy

Sad State of Low Roller Gambling on the Strip

As payouts and table rules continue to be decimated on Las Vegas Blvd., truly good low roller gambling options are few and far between. Great live games are quickly becoming a thing of the past. It’s always been tough finding a $5 game in the evening, but even us early birds now struggle to find a place to hit the felt. The best options are electronic versions of our favorite games. There are some electronic blackjack machines with good rules and reasonable minimums. Some call these “boob machines”  because of the digital, well endowed dealers. I do not refer to them as such. Please, honey, if you’re reading this, don’t take away my allowance. Some of these, we’ll just call them “BJ machines”…no, that doesn’t sound good either. We’ll just stick with “e-Blackjack”. Some of these e-Blackjack machines feature minimum bets less than $5 with 3:2 payouts. Readers and listeners know my affinity for Shoot-to-Win craps, the bubbled, cheap craps alternative. You can find similar forms of roulette as well.

However, most of us can agree that these are supplements, not alternatives to the excitement of live games and real chips. Many of us have migrated our play downtown and the latest Nevada Gaming Statistics report from the UNLV Center for Gaming Studies may represent this. It is aptly noted that the Strip has a high volatility due to high rollers, particularly their baccarat play. Acknowledging this, downtown gaming revenues are up, Strip gaming revenues are down (YOY). Some may feel this is due to efficient marketing, others a natural, economic shift. Either way, it’s something to note. Strip operators certainly have. Their reactions to this shift are reflected in the dwindling gaming options. While they think they are simply reacting to this change, I argue that they may, in fact, be causing it:

Tighten up the payouts and gamblers go elsewhere. Gamblers have gone elsewhere, so we need to tighten up even more to account for the lost revenue.

It’s true that gambling, as a whole, has decreased. But, one way to keep the people who do gamble around, is by offering a decent game. The Strip isn’t doing that. Are they out of touch with us? Perhaps. Do they know more about the current state of their market? Most likely. I simply pose this as an unprovocative thought. I now gamble very rarely on the Strip. Pretty much all of my live action is reserved for the Fremont St. area. How about you?


Host of the Vegas Fanboy podcast. A reluctant Millennial. An amateur human.


  • I’m with you VFB, for those of us with a gambling budget of a couple of hundred Bucks a day and the goal of stretching it out into an evening’s entertainment without going bust, it’s a big jump from $5 to $10 minimums for no extra enjoyment.

    You’d think that one of the second tier casinos just off the centre Strip (eg. Luxor, Trop, TI, Harrahs) would put in a big play as being “The Low Roller Joint” and offer $5 BJ and Craps all day every day, but I guess the numbers don’t add up and it is better for casinos to have closed and unstaffed tables most of the time and then fill them at $10+ minimums at weekends.