Flashback Friday: When Coins Were Kings

Posted by on Jun 19th, 2009 and filed under Featured, Xtra News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Mint Las Vegas Coin RoomAs a young kid growing up in Vegas, nothing screamed – “You have walked into a casino!” – more than the constant sound of coins plopping down into the metal hopper of a slot machine. Listening to the echoing sound of plunk, plunk, plunk reaffirmed you were a winner in Vegas, if nowhere else.

And it was not just that sound. There was a whole culture around coin slots. One of the uniquely Vegas souvenirs was the hotel-specific coin buckets (The Big Gulp collector cup of their time) that were handed out for free.

The parade of security guards escorting bags of coins through the casino as slots were emptied or filled, made it feel as though you were part of some great Hollywood movie where any second Danny Ocean would swoop down with some crazy heist scheme.

Even waiting for the the slot attendant to refill the hopper or clear a jam was bearable because the payout for your wait was a satisfying klink as coins once again rained down.

Today’s Flashback Friday picture features a dinosaur of Vegas, the coin room in the old Mint Las Vegas circa 1967. It was here that coins were counted and (in some cases) cleaned. And yes, those are nickles in the picture.

Now, coin dispensing slots have vanished under the onslaught of TITO (Ticket In / Ticket Out) machines. The move has saved casinos big bucks as it cuts down on staff time spent servicing slot machines, counting coins, etc. It has also allowed casinos to better track slot machine performances. Combined with the ubiquitous player’s club cards, TITO machines can give casinos an accurate count of how much a specific individual gambles by the hour at slots. They’ve even got a pre-recorded sound that simulates the plunk, plunk, plunk of coins hitting the slot machine’s hopper.

But for Vegas veterans longing for the heft of cold, hard cash, we suggest you check out the casinos in downtown Las Vegas where you can still find some coin-in and coin-out slots.

Jennifer Whitehair

Born and raised in Las Vegas, Jennifer grew up believing everyone had slot machines in their convenience stores and celebrated Oct. 31 (Nevada day) with a day off from school. Jennifer has a background in journalism and worked as a reporter for newspapers in both Northern and Southern Nevada, before joining Vegas.com in 1996. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other publications. She covers every part of Las Vegas for Vegas.com and loves tracking down vanishing pieces of historic and vintage Vegas. You can find her on Google+ and Twitter.

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