Coin-Based Slot Machines are Going Extinct – Here’s Why

slot-machine-placementEven after IGT released the first ticket-in-ticket-out (TITO) slot machines in 2000, coin-based slots continued to dominate casino floors.

That’s changed greatly, though, with very few coin-operated slots found on Las Vegas gaming floors today.

The LA Times reports that of Vegas’ $50.5 billion in slots revenue last year, less than 3% of it came from coin-based games.

A further sign that these casino classics are dying is that the Global Gaming Expo – the gaming industry’s largest convention – didn’t feature a single coin-operated machine on the floor.

This is surprising when you consider that other games included options to make SuperLotto picks, track your fantasy football teams, and place sports bets. But slot machines that take coins…they don’t fit into casino gaming’s future.

Even still, there’s a small market for people who enjoy the nostalgia that they get from older slot machines.

The LA Times spoke with a woman named Twyla McFarland, who enjoys reliving old Vegas days through coin-operated slots.

“I love it,” said McFarland. “I’ve been coming here since 1979. Nothing beats these coin machines. Just that sound of them hitting the tray.”

McFarland is one of the few who still base their gaming on these relics. Besides a declining player base, coin-operated slot machines are also becoming extinct because they’re less convenient for casinos.

slot-machines-quartersMark Yoseloff, director of the Center for Gaming Innovation at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, told the LA Times that coin-operated machines just can’t keep up with the volume of money that casinos deal with. And because casinos don’t want millions of dollars sitting in the bellies of slot machines for days, it’s so much easier to use TITO slots.

“Machines today will get maybe 500 spins an hour or more, whereas in the old days, you were lucky to get 200 to 300 spins per hour,” Yoseloff explained. “It almost doubled the velocity of money.”

With such a small percentage of coin-based slot machines in Vegas, it’s obvious that these games have become technology of the past.

But according to Eric Fitzgerald, General Manager of Circus Circus, his casino will always keep them around as long as a small demographic wants to play with quarters.

“Those machines will be around as long as we can keep them working,” he said. “It’s become more and more difficult to find parts for them, but we have a few slots we can take parts from still.”