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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Like It or Not, Coin-Free Gaming Is the Future

11 January 2002

On January 2, 2002, IGT issued a press release announcing seven new installations of their EZ Pay Ticket system for slot machines. There are now more than 34,000 machines in 58 locations worldwide with the system.

Last December, Park Place Entertainment installed EZ Pay on 54 slots in one of their Atlantic City casinos on a trial run and, if successful, they intend to install the system on all the other slots in that casino and on all the slots in all their other Atlantic City casinos in the next few months.

Jumping to Las Vegas, the last three casinos to open (Suncoast, Palms, and Green Valley Ranch) all have coin-free slots. And in the current Strictly Slots, Anthony Curtis predicts in his column that we'll be seeing more and more ticket systems on slots in the future.

Like it or not, ticket systems are the way of the future for slot machines. Let's take a look at the systems from the casino's viewpoint. When the coins and tokens are gone, there is no more hard count (that is, the process of counting and wrapping the coins and tokens), no more hard count team (both the folks who collect the buckets under the machines and the ones who count the coins in the buckets), and no more hopper fills.

Also, when the coins and tokens are gone, well, the coins and tokens are gone. Each quarter the casino has to put in the hopper costs the casino $0.25. There's no Costco where casinos can buy coins in bulk at a discount. Tokens cost money too, though it doesn't cost $25 for a $25 token.

The ticket systems also aren't free and they add about $1000 or more to the cost of each machine. Plus, the casino needs additional software in their slot management system to protect against counterfeit tickets.

If you were just opening up a new casino today, you'd have a choice of spending, believe it or not, a few million dollars to buy the coins and tokens you need to fill the hoppers on your slots. Or, you could spend about the same amount and install EZ Pay and get all the advantages of coin-free slots and avoid all the costs of dealing with coins and tokens. It's a no-brainer, and that's why new casinos are going coin-free.

The choice is not as clear cut if you work in an existing casino. The hoppers have already been filled, so that's not an outlay you're looking at. Installing the ticket system on your slots is an expense though. Granted, you will be able to sell back all your coins to the bank, but you'll lose whatever you spent on tokens. Depending on the number of machines you have, it's going to cost you a few million to install the ticket printers. Your budget, of course, is limited, so you have to decide whether going coin-free is the best use for that money.

I predict that new casinos will open with coin-free slots and existing casinos will slowly--maybe very slowly--but surely go coin-free.

While it's true that ticket systems eliminate the wait for hopper fills and hand pays, I wonder if those will just be replaced with a less frequent wait for a ticket fill--when the ticket printer runs out of blank tickets.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots