ATLANTIC CITY - The clanging of coins again created quite a stir on the casino floor in Atlantic City - and beyond.
Resorts Atlantic City attracted national publicity in the spring when it brought back eight old-fashioned slot machines that revived the aural excitement of coins spilling into the metal collection trays. They were the only coin-operated slots in Atlantic City.
Then, without fanfare, the $1 slots were converted to coinless machines over the summer. Now, it seems, they will stay that way.
The reason? Resorts says its bank simply doesn't have enough of the gleaming Dwight D. Eisenhower silver dollars to keep the machines humming in coin mode.
"We exhausted the supply of Ike dollars that we were able to obtain from the bank we do business with," Resorts spokesman Brian Cahill said, declining to name the bank.
Ike dollars went out of circulation in 1978. Resorts gathered up enough of the super-sized dollars in April when it resurrected some old coin-operated slot machines sporting a 1970s "Boogie Nights" disco theme.
Cahill said the slot machines proved extremely popular. However, gamblers hoarded the Ike dollars instead of cashing them in for currency after they hit jackpots.
"They took them home," Cahill said. "They won their money and kept the coins."
Supplies eventually dwindled to the point where Resorts had to convert the slots into machines that accept only currency or tickets. Resorts played with the idea of using the smaller presidential dollars produced by the U.S. Mint starting in 2007, but they just didn't give gamblers the same bang for the buck.
"When we launched the games, it was to bring the clang back to the casino floor and introduce the noise of coins hitting the tray of slot machines. When you have oversized coins, it gave the customers the experience we intended to give them," Cahill said. "But when we looked at the presidential dollars, it wasn't going to be the same excitement like the larger Ike dollars brought to the Boogie Nights slot machines."
Coin-operated slots disappeared from casinos as a new generation of "ticket in/ticket out" machines revolutionized the gaming industry in the past 10 years. The old machines are more labor-intensive and lack the reliability and high-tech features of the multimedia coinless slots that issue tickets redeemed for jackpots.
But to this day, the clattering of coins in the slot tray remains an iconic part of gambling. Resorts capitalized on the retro-chic coolness by taking some old coin machines stored away in a warehouse and retheming them to match its Boogie Nights disco dance club.
Cahill declined to say whether the now-coinless Boogie Nights slots are as popular as in their Ike dollar days. As for the possibility of coins returning in the future, don't bet on it.
"We would look to bring them back only if the Ike dollars came back in circulation," Cahill said.
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