You can find as many objects to collect as you can find collectors, but some of the most interesting collectibles are slot machines. You can buy them used, but the legality of owning a gambling machine varies from state to state. This page takes a look at some of the issues involved in buying a used slot machine to start or expand a collection of your own.
Where Do You Live?
The first thing you should understand is that no matter where you live, if you’re using a slot machine to offer gambling to other people, you need a license. In some states, gambling is completely prohibited. Chances are you’re an individual collector and don’t have a gambling license, so don’t let people gamble on your games unless you have a high risk tolerance for illegal behavior.
In some states, even collectors aren’t allowed to own a used slot machine. These states include Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Ownership of slot machines, used or otherwise, is illegal in those states.
Other states have no legal restrictions on slot machine ownership as long as you’re not using them to run a gambling business. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The other states have specific guidelines based on the age of the machine. For example, in California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming, it’s legal to own a slot machine as long as it’s at least 25 years old. Other states have higher or lower age limits—in Florida you can own a slot machine as long as it’s 20 years or older, but in Massachusetts, it has to be at least 30 years old. And still other states base it on what year the machine was built; in Illinois and Iowa, for example, it’s only legal to own slot machines that were constructed before 1950.
To the best of my knowledge, this information is complete and accurate, but before buying your own used coin-op slot machine, you should check with local legal authorities to make sure you have the most up to date information. You should always obey the laws in whatever jurisdiction you reside.
You’ll find plenty of people selling used slot machines on the Internet. Many of these are third-party sellers. That means they don’t offer slot machines directly; instead, they just take your order and then buy the slot machine from someone else and have it shipped to you. You’ll often notice that these third party dealers use stock images or pictures that were stolen from direct dealers’ websites.
It’s better to deal with a direct dealer when you can. These dealers will often offer a warranty on the machines they sell. They’ll also be able to help you over the phone if you’re having a problem operating your game. Third party dealers aren’t able to offer you this level of service.
One way to be sure you’re dealing with an actual dealer instead of a third party is to ask them if you’re able to visit their showroom or warehouse. Third party dealers, for obvious reasons, don’t have showrooms or warehouses.
Most dealers offer reconditioned machines that have been retired from use in Las Vegas style casinos. Many of these are the same IGT (International Game Technology) manufactured games that you’re used to seeing in the casino, only older and more primitive. Most dealers also provide replacement parts and repair services.
One thing to look for when considering buying a machine from a dealer is whether or not they use real glass or plexiglass. Real glass is superior as plexiglass fades over time. You can expect to pay a little more for a machine with real glass, but it’s worth the extra cost. If you’ve ever seen a faded plexiglass screen on a used slot machine, you’ll know what I mean.
Many of these games can be set up to enjoy on “free play” mode. You don’t have to insert any kind of money in order to play these games. You can even modify these games to pay out tickets.
Examples of some of the popular and well-known games available for sale on the Internet include titles like Cleopatra, Double Diamond, Munsters, Red, White, and Blue, Sizzling Senves, Tabasca, Texas Tea, and Wild Cherry slots. Many other titles are available besides these, but you’ll recognize a lot of these brand names as still being available (albeit in newer models) in casinos today.
Used slot machines are collectibles, and they’re priced accordingly. Shipping is usually going to be expensive, too. You can probably expect to pay at least $600 for a good machine and $200 for shipping. Video slots will cost twice that or more, and you’ll sometimes have the option of upgrading to a new LCD monitor when buying a video slot machine. Those are expensive, too–$400 or $500.
Other upgrades you can pay for include stereo sound packages, coin in coin out functionality, and/or backlit reels (on mechanical or electro-mechanical machines). These upgrades generally cost between $100 and $200 each.
Of course, these prices apply to relatively newer slot machines. Older antique slot machines can cost more or less. I’ve seen slot machines from the 1930s and 1940s that were beautifully refurbished for sale for as little as $325. Some of these older machines are barely recognizable as slot machines, but they make beautiful, conversation-worthy collections.
Buying a used slot machine can be a fun way to start a new hobby of collecting gaming machines, but do some research first. You want to make sure that it’s legal to do so before you get started. You also need to do some research into dealers before spending any money. Avoid third-party dealers, and find a direct dealer with a warehouse who offers warranties and telephone customer support.