Sunday, September 14, 2008

An explanation of sorts.

The scans of the tokens, without much/if any explanation don't make much sense to the casual reader. I'd seen a listing on Las Vegas Craig's list for these tokens a week or so ago. I kept meaning to give the pawn shop a call to see if they still had them. When I finally did call them, they indeed had not sold. I have almost no experience with pawn shops with the exception that I have stopped in a bunch of them asking if they had any casino chips. One of my best finds happened in a pawn shop in Winchester, VA 7-8 years ago. Back then I picked up a hand full of chips to include a Silver Slipper $1, a Fremont 50¢ Arodie, two International $1 and an old slot machine token. For those chips I paid a grand sum of about $11. The "book" value on them was near $600. Finds like that are few and far between.

In any case, after a few phone calls I headed out for Bargain Pawn located in the lovely locale of North Las Vegas just a block or so North of Jerry's Nugget.

If you wonder where the homeless of Las Vegas hang out/live take a drive along LV Blvd. north of downtown Las Vegas. You'll marvel at the makeshift camps. Take a blanket, attach it to chain link fence at the top and drape it outwards to form half of a tent shape. These "structures" are prominent along the sidewalks in the area. I'll not make any judgements about what/how/why these people are there, but it's a mental picture to describe where the pawn shop is located.

My first visit was a dry run. Although Brantley was able to locate the binder containing the tokens, he wasn't able to price/haggle them. I left empty handed after leaving my phone number and asking to have someone with the ability to price the damn things give me a call. The next day I received a call and I once again headed North to the picturesque beauty of North Las Vegas.

The in-the-know employee took $95 off of the sticker price and even "paid" the taxes for me.

I'm a sucker for just about any type of casino collectible. Although I never really pursued slot tokens I had managed to accumulate quite a few. This purchase basically doubled my token collection and sent me on a mission to learn more about them.

A fellow collector directed me to this web site .

There is a wealth of information there and I spend quite a few hours cataloging my newly acquired gems. With few exceptions, slot tokens are not collected as widely as chips and the retail values of the tokens reflect the lesser demand. In any case, a large number of my new tokens are from 1965-1967 and the dates pick back up in 1979. These dates, apparently coincide with changes in the law that allowed tokens to be legally minted and the escapades of the Hunt Brothers. A large number of these tokens are in uncirculated condition. Most have a retail value of $4-$10 but there were about 3 that had significantly higher valuations.

If I didn't have enough to do keeping up with the new chip issues in Las Vegas, now I guess I'll set off in pursuit of older tokens to fill the many gaps in my token collection. The (sort of) good news is that almost NO casinos are still issuing slot tokens as the ticket-in-ticket-out technology has made actual tokens practically obsolete. At least when you collect something that is closed ended you have a prayer of acquiring a significant percentage of what is out there. As of now, chips are an open ended proposition. Who knows if that will be the case in 5-10 years. Will the dealer-less tables be commonplace then? Will CHIPS as a whole be obsolete? I'd like to think not, but technology (read greed) marches on.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

page 2-11 tokens

Slot tokens galore

I recently purchased a large quantity of old slot tokens. The next few posts will simply be pictures of those tokens.

Monday, September 01, 2008

A good read and something to think about.....

The following appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I hope every bean-counter in every Nevada casino reads it and takes it to heart.

Here's the link to the story. I've copied and pasted it below so you don't need to follow the link........

Aug. 31, 2008 Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal FROM OUR READERS: Interaction, winning give way to gadgets, losing Virtual technologies cater to the self-absorbed, who can already gamble in isolation anywhere By ALFRED RUNTE SPECIAL TO THE REVIEW-JOURNAL

During a stopover in Reno 25 years ago, my wife and I discovered Nevada-style gambling -- and absolutely loved it.
Just as suddenly, on a summer trip to Las Vegas and Laughlin, we admitted the thrill is gone. Since when did the gaming industry rob Nevada of its uniqueness, conspiring to remake its casinos into video arcades?
Most recently, the Excalibur in Las Vegas brags about replacing its live poker room with electronic poker tables. Again, what happened to the state that believed in character -- the state that made gambling real?
In the old days, even when the games were "electronic," at least the money they paid was real. Certainly, if the sound and feel of money were not important, why does every ticket machine go "clink! clink!"
Cutting labor costs would appear to be the hidden agenda, no matter the protests about sanitation and dirty hands. At the Tropicana Express in Laughlin, we were told that players actually prefer a televised dealer to someone live.
If so, Nevada is in serious trouble; a casino anywhere can give us that. Still, the more likely aim is to shrink the payout -- and the payroll -- while attracting new players content to lose. Note the number of casinos filled with younger players just pushing buttons to watch cartoons.
The challenge is convincing my generation -- people over 55 -- that virtual reality is the same as winning. Our generation, still with three-quarters of the nation's discretionary income, remains Nevada's largest and most loyal market. Forget all the nonsense about being diverted with light shows and theme parks. Our notion of being entertained is still to win -- and to hear it when others do.
When playing slots, we listen for the money hitting the pan. In the restaurant, we want to enjoy live keno with our meal. The fact that a slot machine can replace a keno runner is just another reminder that Nevada is replacing us.
For the record, our generation still likes people. To us, a casino without employees is a morgue. Every time the old machines ran out of money, you got to meet the staff. That keno runner did more than work for the casino. She was also an ambassador of good will.
This is also to explain why older players gravitate to progressive jackpots, especially when playing slots. Why play in a casino if it is not a community, each player driving up everyone's chances to win big?
Gradually, banks of progressive machines have been eliminated -- or diluted by offering multiple games. No longer do the people next to you have a stake in your play, or you a stake in theirs.
Truly, one gets the feeling that Nevada has been taken over by hyperactive teenagers with BlackBerrys stuck to their brains. The point again about inventing games that encourage players to be self-absorbed is that gambling in Nevada becomes irrelevant.
Indeed, if ever the industry should implode, too many mindless changes will be the reason. The whole point of returning to a casino in the first place is to find the community of players and workers -- and luck -- you left behind. Constantly changing the floor of the casino and reducing the staff defies every definition of luck and good business sense. Sure, we now get a player's card and an extra comp or two. But that prevents anyone from learning our names.
Those of us living outside Nevada also have to suffer the airlines and the rising price of gasoline. In the past, Nevada stayed competitive -- and kept us coming -- by offering what could not be had anywhere else.
Although the competition has increased, sending home more losers is no business plan. Nevada would still be better advised to preserve its uniqueness against change proposed for the sake of change.
Granted, some changes are inevitable, and no one can win every time. However, forfeiting character for virtual reality is not progressive change. It is the loss of that Nevada, the real Nevada, that now threatens to keep us -- and the nation -- at home.

Alfred Runte, an environmental historian specializing in the American West, lives in Seattle, where in 2005 he ran for mayor. His latest book is "Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation" (Truman State University Press).

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