Casinos are making big bank off the tiniest—and oft-most derided—denomination, USA Today reports. Gambling outfits have added penny slots at an amazing rate—in the last 2 years, Nevada has removed 12,000 more costly machines to make room for 7,000 penny slots—and the move has paid off. In Missouri, for example, penny bets make up 42% of the total and a whopping 63% of casino profits.
Not that penny slots take pennies, or are really machines for that matter: The computerized game takes dollar bills or pre-loaded debit cards. Patrons can, however, bet in 1-cent increments, and the machines are designed to pay out smaller amounts, but do so more often. While the rest of the industry was off 19% last year in Nevada, penny slot receipts were up 3%. “A consultant told us it was a joke to put all those penny machines in,” a casino exec says. “Then we showed him our revenue.”