A growing number of slot ticket redemption kiosks in Las Vegas are “keeping the change”, only dispensing paper currency and printing out a coupon for coins that players are then forced to redeem at the cage.
Obviously, this is annoying. The convenience of an automated slot TITO redemption machine is completely negated if you’re then forced to wait in line to get your 19 cents.
As you can imagine, there is commonly a stack of change coupons stacked atop the redemption machine, or nearby – Many of them just get trashed.
At the suggestion of a reader, I thought it would be fun to dive into why casinos aren’t giving change in the first place, and where that uncollected change goes.
Why Redemption Machines Stopped Disbursing Change
Many casinos stopped stocking automated slot ticket redemption machines with coins due to a nationwide coin shortage in 2020. According to the United States Federal Reserve, the shortage was caused by bank and business closures during the pandemic, which “Significantly disrupted normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins”.
Obviously, that shortage has since abated, but machines still sit change-less on casino floors across Las Vegas.
The reason is pretty obvious: It’s cheaper to keep them un-stocked, as coins are cumbersome to handle and coin dispensing equipment is prone to malfunction.
Why pay an employee to lug currency around all-day restocking kiosks when you can make the minuscule number of customers who care to get coinage walk to you instead?
Unfortunately, policies like this are another “strike” against Vegas for many visitors who already perceive the destination as one where you’ll be “nickel & dimed”. Although we’re talking about small dollar amounts, withholding change doesn’t help the city’s already diminishing value proposition in the eyes of many.
What Happens to Unredeemed Vouchers in Las Vegas?
A 2011 law requires Las Vegas casinos to send 75% of the cash from unredeemed slot vouchers to the State of Nevada. Casinos are able to keep the remaining 25%, although that amount is also taxed.
Uniquely, some casinos give patrons the option of donating their change to charity in lieu of printing a coupon redeemable at the cage.
In my opinion, this should always be an option. I’d personally opt to give my coins to a worthy cause every time.
Could This Practice Change? (Pun Intended)
As you can imagine, people aren’t fans of this loose change policy, and the lawyers have taken notice.
In late 2022, a class action lawsuit was filed against MGM Resorts accusing them of depriving players “little by little, of millions of dollars”.
Soon thereafter, a similar lawsuit was filed against Caesars Entertainment, claiming the chain had “Failed to put an average player on reasonable notice that Gaming Voucher would be rounded down and that the Kiosk would simply keep a player’s change.”.
As there’s no longer a raging pandemic, coin shortage, etc., excuses for not dispensing coins at redemption kiosks are evaporating. Many resorts in Las Vegas are standing firm, however, forcing players to stand in line for their change.
I’m a former software salesman turned Vegas aficionado. While the craps table is my preferred habitat, I pull myself away to explore new attractions, shows, restaurants, and outdoor activities around Las Vegas with the intent of sharing my experiences.
Ultimately, I just want to help folks plan a better trip and save a few bucks in the process.
Thursday 23rd of February 2023
When my husband and I started driving to Golden Nugget Lake Charles, LA, it had only been open for a year. We saw the need for a donation box for change tickets (or tickets for any amount) at that time. We hadn't seen anything like it but made a suggestion to the "Comment Box" on the wall just inside the casino. I don't recall why they weren't dispensing change as this was in 2016. Anyway, they listened and now there are donation boxes places near each entry/exit. Each month, they gather these donations for a different charity. L'Auberge De Lac, located a stone's throw from GN quickly followed suit. It makes me happy to know we made a difference.