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Some still not sold on ‘coinless’ slots

Oct 23, 2001 9:00 AM

While most experts agree that coinless slots are here to stay, supporters of coin-in, coin-out games aren’t ready to dump their buckets.

“A large portion of casino customers look forward to playing coins into the slots,” said Richard Currie of Coin Mechanisms, a manufacturer of coin handling and hard count equipment. “Coin is an important part of the customer’s casino experience.”

Currie acknowledged, however, that many slot players enjoy the convenience of feeding paper currency into a machine and playing the credits.

“Paper money is fine at lower denominations, but for higher denomination machines, players prefer coins and tokens,” he said. “Can you imagine a high stakes player trying to stuff bills into a machine that’s $100 a pull?”

One slot manufacturer agreed that it will be difficult to completely replace coin-operated machines.

“It may take years for the cashless systems, such as the ticket-in, ticket-out systems to dominate the casino floor,” said Mac Seelig, president of A.C. Coin & Slot. “In the short time, however, I don’t foresee coinless replacing coin or token slots.”

Several casino managers and slot manufacturers at last week’s World Gaming Congress were not convinced.

“I don’t think the learning curve for ticket-in, ticket-out technology will take very long for the player,” said Dean Ehrlich, general manager of Anchor Gaming. “Suncoast already operates very successfully with this technology; there are too many advantages for this technology not to be implemented.”

Casino managers also praise the new cashless systems.

“Our customers enjoy the coinless slots because they’re more convenient and eliminate the annoying delays associated with hopper fills and hand pays,” said Bob Barrowman, IT Manager of Sun International casino in South Africa. “Plus it’s been cost effective change for the casino.”

Barrowman said Sun International reevaluated their slot inventory (1750 slots) in 1993.

“At the time, our slot department was processing 22 metric tons of coins in a 24 hour period,” Barrowman said. “In addition to the labor factor, there were security concerns and the convenience for the slot players.

“Changing over to the smart card system was the right choice,” he said.

Lee Skelley, assistant general manager of the Barona Casino in California, said coinless slots is an idea that was long overdue.

“The problem has been a complacent industry in which everyone wants to maintain the status quo,” Skelley said. “Customers don’t want to continue playing coins. The casino managers are adverse to risk and don’t want to lose their cushy jobs.”

Skelley said Barona Casino, a tribal gaming operation, uses a ticket-in, ticket-out system for 85 percent of its slot machines. The other 15 percent accept coins.

“The 15 percent are in the casino so first-time visitors can see what a ”˜traditional’ coin-operated slot machine looks like,” he said. “But most regular players prefer the coinless games.”