Like it or not, the future of craps has arrived in Las Vegas. Harrah’s is the first Las Vegas casino to have Roll to Win Craps, a multi-sensory new take on a quintessential casino game.
We fully expected to hate Roll to Win Craps, but after our first test drive of the game, we’re thinking it’s a fun alternative to the traditional dice game and you should fully expect Roll to Win Craps to be in every Vegas casino within a year or so. No, really.
Trust us, we never expected to type those words.
Here’s a look at the game we’ve decided to call “Pew Pew Craps.” Because everything’s better with “pew pew.”
Roll to Win Craps is aimed directly at a younger generation of casino customers.
From what we’ve seen so far, reactions to the game have fallen into two camps: 1) Abomination. 2) Bomb. (Alternatively, fleek.)
Thankfully, you don’t have to choose sides. Traditional craps tables aren’t going away anytime soon. Pew Pew Craps just gives customers another option.
While the visual stimulation may appear to be the biggest draw of Roll to Win Craps, it’s actually the lower table minimum.
At Harrah’s, the table minimum was $10, but $25 at all the other craps tables. Roll to Win was full, the others had a player or two each at most. All those players were looking over at Roll to Win Craps. There’s some serious FOMO (fear of missing out) happening.
Lower table minimums are very appealing to players, but don’t always pencil out for casinos, especially when you factor in labor costs. That’s one of the reasons it’s rare to find a $5 craps table on The Strip these days. It’s a money-loser.
Players often go for a low minimum game, even if the house advantage is greater. (All eyes on triple zero roulette.)
Casinos will be able to offer low minimums on Roll to Win Craps because it eliminates three staff positions. The game requires one stick person, so two dealers and the box man are out.
But let’s get into the game itself, shan’t we? Here’s some video we snagged at Harrah’s, and surprisingly, nobody tackled us. Good luck watching this without hearing “Pew, pew!” in your head!
So, what’s the lowdown with Pew Pew Craps? Let’s go!
The game has a lot in common with old-school craps, but bets are made via screens at each position on the table. Our table could accommodate 10 players.
No verbal bets, no late bets, no confusion about bets. It’s all on the screen.
One dealer, a stick person, runs the table.
They decide when it’s time for “no more bets,” they then enter the roll into their display and the results are shown and everyone gets paid.
There’s a lot of flair, but those are the basics.
Let’s address some frequent questions right up front.
Q. Does Roll to Win Craps use actual dice? A. Yes. Players shoot the dice just as they would at traditional craps.
Q. Does Roll to Win Craps use chips? A. No. For us, it’s one of the biggest downsides to the game. There’s a lot of upside to this as well, however.
One of the biggest benefits of Pew Pew Craps is bets are paid out perfectly, every time. No chips, no math. No dealer error. Ever.
Longtime players will, of course, be disappointed to hear there’s also no chance of losing bets remaining on the table. Las Vegas lore includes stories of players tipping dealers, then those dealers “forgetting” to take losing wagers.
Not having chips also has unintended consequences. Typically, craps players tip their waitress with chips. That means players have to tip in cash, and waitresses often don’t have change (or time or patience to deal with making change).
Casinos, of course, will tout the fact having no chips adds a layer of health and safety to the experience, current climatewise.
Q. Can you tip the dealer? A. Yes, via a button on your screen.
It’s a bummer you can’t make a bet for dealers on Roll to Win Craps. We suspect this will make it one of the less desirable tables for dealers, although on The Strip, at least, dealers pool their tips, but still.
We predict these games will not inspire a lot of tipping, as the button is easy to miss, and the dealer isn’t really giving individualized service as traditional dealers do.
Q. What’s it like without felt? A. Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s weird.
So, the surface of the Roll to Win Craps table is a sort of clear plastic. Dice players are likely to find this unnerving, as the dice just react differently when they land. Sometimes, the sharp corners of the dice dig in and the dice pretty much stop in place. There are a lot of “short rolls.”
The sound when the dice hit is a mix. It’s either like they’re landing on glass, or they make no sound at all. Just a funky element of the game, but you get used to it.
Q. How do you buy in and cash out? A. It’s just like a slot machine. Cash goes into a bill validator slot. When you cash out, you get a TITO (ticket in/ticket out) slip.
Q. What are the table odds? A. 3x, 4x, 5x.
Q. What’s the table maximum? A. Like you’re ever going to need to know that! It’s $10,000.
Q. Is a win of $1,200 or more treated like a slot machine win? Does it trigger tax reporting and a W2-G form? A. No, Roll to Win Craps is treated like a live table game, so the slot tax rules don’t apply.
Q. What’s the best part of Roll to Win Craps? A. Our vote is how the game tracks your rolls. There’s a section on your video screen that shows the roll history, but even better is when the table itself shows how many rolls you’ve done.
Not only that, the table actually changes visually the longer you roll. The table goes from a tranquil astronomy vibe to fire. It’s awesome, and there are even levels of fire. Here’s what we saw when we hit 24 rolls.
Absolutely love this feature!
In fact, there’s a lot to love about Roll to Win Craps, we are pleased to report.
To our surprise, we loved the visuals. When players make a bet on their screen, little laser beams shoot out to the part of the table where the bet is going.
Also, the “point” throbs. Or maybe “pulses” is a better word.
We love that there’s the option to instantly take all your bets “off.” (If there’s a bet that can’t be removed, like a pass line bet after a point’s been established, it has a little lock symbol.)
We never did figure out how to reduce a bet, other than to “cancel” the bet and place it again. That was probably buried in the instructions somewhere. There are about 10 screens of “Game Rules” if you really want to dive into them.
It’s probably best to learn craps at home or on an app, although Roll to Win Craps is a great way for beginners to get their feet wet. You set your own pace, and there’s no pressure from the dealer or other players to bet on every roll.
Our advice is keep it simple: Pass line bet, odds (clearly marked, but on one side of the “Pass,” rather than behind the line as is standard), then place the 6 and 8 (not the Big 6 and 8, although there’s a space for those sucker bets).
As mentioned, a huge perk of Roll to Win is you’re playing your own game on your own timetable. You can skip entire rolls, you can place bets and remove them, you can even play the “don’t” (sometimes called the dark side) if you must. Don’t, but you can.
Experienced players will love the fact newbies won’t dangle their hands over the table! It’s considered bad luck for dice to hit someone’s hands.
Casinos will love the fact that, because of the way the table is designed, the chances of a player spilling a drink on the table is nearly zilch.
We love the fancy cup holders, too! (Although, the lip of a plastic cup touches the side of the holder. Too granular a review at this point?)
The list of things to love about Roll to Win Craps is too long to include here. We even love the fact you can type in your name and have it appear on the table in front of you. This increases the social aspect of the game, despite the temporary Plexiglas dividers.
Oh, and it should go without saying the Plexiglas dividers on the table are related to safety protocols, they’ll be removed as soon as the casino is able to do so.
It’s hard to give this game a full assessment given masks and dividers change the mood of the game. It’s muted, when the intention is for it to be a party, including music and sound effects being piped in through speakers built into the table.
One of the sound effects is people clapping just before every roll. We have no idea how the table knows when someone’s about to shoot, but it happens every time.
Oh, and we loved the fact there are chairs at the table. In traditional craps games, players always stand. Some players still prefer to stand, but most sit. When you sit, though, it’s actually difficult to see the table or the outcome of rolls.
What are some other downsides to Pew Pew Craps?
Well, everyone at the table waits for the slowest player to bet. The dealer watches players to get a feel for when everyone’s done, then “No more bets” is called. It feels like it slows the game down.
This procedure will be off-putting to some players, as they can’t make last-second, spur of the moment bets. Dealers will love this, however. Late bets are the bane of their existence.
Another procedure that slows the game down is the fact the dealer has to retrieve the dice and enter the results manually, as previously mentioned. This really makes the game feel like a slog. Our hope would be this has to do with the fact the dealers at Harrah’s are still being trained on this new game. Otherwise, it mucks with the momentum.
One of the weird rules at Harrah’s is if you want to step away from the table, you have to cash out. They will save your spot, but you have to cash out every time, even if you’re just going 10 feet away to find a bill breaker to tip your waitress.
One other item we don’t love: Each position at the table has a number. We were well into our roll before we realized we’d sat at Terminal 7. What the hell? The game maker should’ve known to skip Terminal 7 like hotels skip the 13th floor.
Got more questions about Roll to Win Craps? Drop them in the comments and we’ll add them to our story once we sober up.
Overall, we were surprised by how much fun we had at Roll to Win Craps from Aruze Gaming. (Aruze also brought us bubble craps, which has a strong following in casinos now.)
We saw video of the machine when it was unveiled at a gambling industry trade show and vowed to never play. We also swore we’d fight to keep this demon’s spawn from ever making its way into a Las Vegas casino.
Let’s just say we were a tad premature. Trust us, it’s not the first time.
It took one session to make us a true believer.
Make no mistake, Roll to Win Craps isn’t for everyone. But it’s a lively, eye-popping twist on a game that’s seen a decline in popularity in recent years.
Some will steadfastly cling to their chips and felt, but we expect lots of new players will be drawn to this high-tech take on a beloved casino fixture.
As we said, we predict every Las Vegas casino will have one or more Pew Pew Craps tables in the near future. Not just because of the cost savings for casinos, but due to popular demand.