Flashback Friday: When Coins Were Kings

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.


I'm one of a rare breed of folks, a native Las Vegan. That's Las Vegan, not Vegan. Being born in Las Vegas has endowed me with crazy Vegas skills - must be all the exposure to neon. I'm a human casino GPS, celebrity locator (You never know who you'll meet in a casino elevator, right Richard Branson?) and tip calculator. My mom taught me probability and statistics with decommissioned casino dice. When I walk through a hotel, tourists think I work there. Maybe it's my smile, my purposeful walk or my friendly answers. Maybe it's just the black suit. But whatever the reason, Vegas.com gives me the chance to exercise my Vegas super powers every day. Now if I could just predict when Megabucks would hit... You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Pamela at 7:50 pm

    I too miss the sounds of clinking coins! The other day I heard thechange machine at the laundry mat and it immediately brought back memories….:( But I guess we all must do our part to heal the earth…

  2. emily at 5:50 pm

    My shocking intoduction to no coin slots was in Bossier City,La. I had a $20 roll of dollars from a previous trip & couldn’t wait to hit the slots. Not ONLY could I not play coin slots, but the dollars were no longer good. It’s just not the same without the coins. How the hell do you get excited by a paper ticket being dispensed?