Monday, July 29, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
A full moon is commonly regarded as bad luck but a UNLV study suggests it may be profitable -- if you play your cards right.
Daily pay-out percentages at casinos are generally higher by as much as 2 percent on days when the moon is full, according to Dean Radin, who co-authored a study on the phenomenon.
The study revealed that four of the five major jackpots won between 1991 and 1994 at the Continental hotel-casino in Las Vegas occurred on a day of a full moon. The odds of that happening by chance are 1 in 22 million, Radin said.
The study is based on analysis of four years of daily reports from the Continental. The information includes "drop" figures, referring to the amount of money gambled, and "result" figures, the amount of money paid out, for five casino games: craps, blackjack, roulette, keno and slots.
Data from the Continental were compared against historical records that contain the dates of every full moon that occurs per year. About 50 full moons per year is normal, Radin said.
According to Radin, the study suggests that, by gambling on or near days of the full moon and by not gambling on or near days of the new moon, you can boost pay-out percentages by about 2 percent.
Radin said the pay-out rate for all table games and slots is about 75 percent (meaning that for every dollar played on a slot machine, someone will get a return of 75 cents, with the house picking up the other quarter). On the day of a full moon, "you can optimize your play ... from 75 percent to 77 percent," he said.
A 2 percent boost is worth getting excited over, Radin added. "Even 2 percent adds up to a lot of additional money because so many people are playing at a time," Radin said. "It compounds to huge amounts of money."
The study is one in a series conducted at UNLV's Harry Reid Center for Environmental Studies, where Radin is a director. Radin said its purpose was to determine possible connections between gaming and the lunar cycle. He called Las Vegas "the best laboratory in the world."
Bernice Jaeger, assistant general manager at the Continental, agreed. "Most gamblers are superstitious ... many have good luck charms ... and think there's a higher energy."
Radin and co-author Jannine Rebman's study appears to confirm what many gamblers have suspected for years.
"I completely believe that strange things happen when the moon is full," said Margie Bower, a Las Vegas native. "If that includes winning more jackpots, I want to know when the next full moon is expected so I can hit the slots."