LAS VEGAS — Casinos without the clatter of winnings dropping into slot-machine trays? Such silence might not be far off.
Coinless slots might seem an oxymoron, but the machines are gaining popularity among players who prefer the convenience and cleanliness of a card or voucher.
“I really like it,” said Donna Lund of Indianapolis as she gambled at Bally’s Las Vegas. “Your hands don’t get dirty and it doesn’t ruin your manicure.”
Gaming experts and other industry watchers say the trend toward quieter one-armed bandits will continue.
“Ultimately, we believe the casino slot floor will evolve into a completely cashless environment,” said Jason Ader, an analyst with Bear Stearns & Co. in New York.
Stowe Shoemaker, an associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, says coinless slots make good business sense. “The longer the player waits for change, the less time they spend gambling, which means less revenue for the casino,” said Shoemaker, who recently conducted focus groups on alternative payment systems in casinos.
But Shoemaker’s research shows that Las Vegas tourists — there were 36 million last year — aren’t enthusiastic about such a change because most of them enjoy the winning sounds of coins clinking into the metal hopper.
“When you hear the coins dropping at another machine, you know you’re next,” said Risa Davis of Annapolis, Md. “It’s exciting.”
Others, Shoemaker’s research shows, don’t trust the new technology or fear they will lose vouchers more easily than they might misplace cash.
Those concerns aren’t stopping the world’s largest gambling company, Park Place Entertainment Corp., from replacing some of its aging machines with coinless slots on the Las Vegas Strip and in Atlantic City, N.J.
The EZ Pay system is a package of various coinless technologies owned by a number of companies, marketed by Reno-based International Game Technology, the world’s biggest slot-machine manufacturer. IGT has shipped more than 20,000 such machines to 38 casinos around the world.
Greektown Semua Situs Slot Mpo Casino in Detroit will install coinless slot machines on its gaming floor “sometime in the future,” said spokesman Roger Martin.
Jay Dee Clayton, vice president of operations at MGM Grand Detroit casino, said coinless slots would be considered if there is customer demand. “For the time being, we will continue to provide a coin option so that our guests can choose from a variety of games,” Clayton said.
Officials at MotorCity Casino and Casino Windsor could not be reached for comment.
Though often referred to as coinless, EZ Pay doesn’t eliminate coins entirely. The system offers casinos the option of paying customers with a printed ticket. Customers can then take the ticket to a cashier for payment or can insert it into the bill receptor of another slot machine to get coins.
“The operational efficiencies are obvious,” said Tom Gallagher, Park Place’s chief executive. “More important is our players’ enjoyment as we reduce the interruptions and delays in filling coin hoppers.”
Slot machines are the most lucrative component of Nevada gaming, accounting for $6.2 billion in revenue last year. That was nearly two-thirds of total revenue at private casinos, said Frank Streshley of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.