Why do Casinos keep increasing their Blackjack House Edge?


When blackjack was first becoming popular in the 1940's and 50's, the game rules were pretty favorable to players. There were legitimate single deck games, 3:2 natural blackjack payouts, and doubling down was allowed on any hand.

Moving to today, the casino blackjack scene has all changed. 6:5 blackjack payouts have become the norm, there are restrictions on doubling down, and if you find a single deck game, beware! Most brick and mortar casinos now look to increase their blackjack house edge over 1% - as opposed to the typical 0.5% house advantage that's seen at online casinos.

So what gives here? Why do casinos see the need to continue increasing their advantage in blackjack games? Let's asnwer this question by looking at the mentality behind land-based casinos these days.

Desperate Measures

One reason why gaming establishments in many popular casino destinations continue changing blackjack rules is because they're looking for additional ways to make money. Cities like Las Vegas and Atlantic City have seen some of their lowest revenue figures in years, (due to an American recession) so they need a way to recoup what they're losing through less tourists.

Since the average player isn't well-versed in blackjack strategy, they feel as if they can impose rules that are more favorable to themselves without most players realizing it. Sure featuring unpopular rules like 6:5 blackjack payouts and hand-splitting restrictions will upset hardcore blackjack enthusiasts. But it'll go virtually unnoticed by recreational players who are just looking to score a few free drinks while on the felt.


Operating Costs

Low stakes games are especially hit hard by the common blackjack rule changes seen at many casinos today. The reason why is obvious: they have to pay dealers, utilities and other overhead costs, and low stakes games offer the smallest profit margin available.

For years, gaming establishments have relied on numbers to combat the relatively low amount of revenue they pulled in from these tables. But when casinos see their visitors diminish, they alter rules to gain a larger edge. So if you visit the Vegas Strip, don't expect to see casinos offering 3:2 blackjack payoffs and forcing the dealer to stand on a soft 17.

How to Avoid High House Edges

If you want to avoid the increasingly high blackjack house edges, you can do one of the following two things:

1) Play online blackjack
2) Play higher stakes in brick and mortar casinos

As for the latter, most blackjack games with minimum stakes of $25 offer pretty favorable rules. If you're playing $25 blackjack or higher, you'll normally only be facing a 0.5% - 0.6% house edge. Of course, you also have to consider that you'll be losing more money on average because of the increased stakes (25 x 0.005 = $0.125 per hand).

As for online blackjack, internet casinos can afford to offer a low house edge at low stakes because they're not dealing with the same operating costs that land-based casinos are. Sure it's still not cheap to run a quality online casino, but they also don't have to pay dealers to run games.

The end result is that you'll be dealing with a very low 0.5% house edge thanks to more favorable rules. And while online blackjack can't replace the live experience, it certainly gives the average low roller a better opportunity to win.

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