Where Do Old Slot Machines Go? Anyone who plays slots has their favorites. Consequently, players get disappointed, even angry, when their favorite slot is gone. Miguel, our NETG Rhode Island correspondent, could tell you where every “Hot Hot Penny” 5-reel slot was in New England, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas casinos. I am constantly stalking for Aristocrat’s “Betting Zoo” Cashman machine.
Should It Stay, or Should it Go?
Where Do Old Slot Machines Go? Better yet, why do some stay on the floor longer than others?
One reason is fundamental. If it continues to make money, it stays. If not, bye-bye, one-arm bandit. The #1 predictor of a game’s profitability is the gambler’s average time on that device. Therefore, slot machine manufacturers (IGT, Aristocrat, Konami, and others) focus on features that will increase this number when designing new games.
Another reason is if it is leased. A slot machine with a movie, television, or celebrity theme is leased for a specific time. After the lease is up, it’s returned to the manufacturer. It disappears from the floor because the rental is up, whether it’s still making money. The lease idea goes back to the first Megabucks wide-area-progressive machines. At that time, casinos and slot manufacturers shared profits from networked machines. They also shared the liability of paying out the big jackpots. That evolved to encompass slots with lower jackpots but expensive themes.
Parts is Parts
Finally, old machines are retired or used for parts for similar units. Malfunctions that lead them to the slot graveyard include a blurry or dis-colored monitor, buttons that don’t work after being replaced over and over, or the sound is distorted or non-existent. Mark Pilarski of Vegas Master says, “Sadly, many of the beautiful, much-loved slot machines of yesterday are no longer with us.
Casinos want to squeeze as much out of a slot machine as possible, so many old slot machines removed from the casino floor are sent off to the workshop to be dismantled and used for parts or sold as scrap.”
But not all slot machines end their lives on the scrap heap. Some are locked away in storage. I can see it now. As the vault opens, old slots can be whimpering, saying, “pick me, pick me.” Unfortunately, some machines are still hoping to see the light of day in the casino one last time.
Casinos do sell older machines. Collectors buy them, or other casinos, especially on cruise ships, buy older machines. Some people buy them from collectors for home use. Unfortunately, only a few states, such as Arizona, legally allow personal ownership. And many of the newer machines with TITO technology (no coins) are not favorable for home usage. In addition, those with TITO have one problem with personal play – you need a gambling license to buy the paper for the tickets!
In New England, here are state regulations for having your very own slot machine:
- Connecticut – All machines prohibited
- Maine & Rhode Island – All machines legal
- Massachusetts – Machines 30 years or older legal
- New Hampshire – Machines 25 years or older legal
- Vermont – Machines before 1954 legal
John Robinson, from Casino City Times, sums it up as follows:
“What a casino does when it’s finished with a slot machine depends on how it was acquired. When a slot was placed in the casino by the manufacturer on a participation basis (the casino and the manufacturer split the money won from the machine), the casino asked the manufacturer to remove the machine. But, if the casino leases the machine, it asks the leasing company to take back the machine at the end of the lease. On the other hand, if a casino bought the machine, it sells it to a slot distributor or wholesaler.”
So, that’s where slot machines go after they have served their monetary purpose to the casino. There is no Slot Heaven, no Hall of Fame. The reality is sad. “Sorry, Mr. Bandit, your time is up.”