Coin shortage in Las Vegas, caused by the coronavirus pandemic is threatening the operation of slot machines.
The US has seen a huge drop in the circulation of coins since banks and other businesses first closed due to the pandemic, and many consumers have been opting to go cashless where possible to reduce contact points. That’s having consequences for slot machines in Las Vegas.
El Cortez casino said it had $120,000 in coins before the pandemic, but banked all but $30,000 when closures were implemented by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak. It’s since struggled to get more.
It’s removed feed on coin counters to encourage customers to empty their piggy banks.
General manager Adam Wiesberg said: “[In] our first coin order that we did after reopening in July, we ordered $30,000 in quarters. When the Brinks people came, they brought us just $500 in quarters. That’s when we realised firsthand that there was a coin issue. We’re fortunate we kept that $30,000.”
In response to the shortage, El Cortez has removed the 5 per cent fee usually charged on coin counting machines in order to encourage customers to turn in their shrapnel.
Wiesberg said: “People can come to El Cortez and change out your piggy banks for free, which has helped increase the amount of coin we’re bringing in.
We used to empty those machines much less frequently, but now we’re emptying them every day. For a weekend, those machines will have $75,000 in coins if we wait until Monday to empty them.”
Other casinos have reported similar issues, including Skyline in Henderson and The California, also downtown.
It is hoped the issue will be a temporary blip. The US Mint says it is now running at full capacity and will produce 1.65bn coins per month for the remainder of 2020 to address the shortage.