Casino and gambling memorabilia is a hot business, with many of the most sought-after items bringing prices into the six figures. It makes sense that casino and gambling items would be such a booming collector’s market. It also begs you to ask the question, how much is an old slot machine worth?
The genre crosses into all sorts of different subsections, but many are intertwined. One instance is the slot machines.
Old slot machines are considered to be all models built before 1950. These antique games are different from what we have today.
Most of these old slot machines contain all original parts if still in working order. That’s significant because it dramatically increases the value of a working machine.
How much is an old slot machine worth?
The answer might surprise you. You can earn a surprising amount of money by matching a suitable machine with a motivated buyer. The real antique slot machines fetch between $8000 and $10,000 on the collectors’ market.
Have You Got Something Special Collecting Dust in the Garage?
It’s always amazed me when a farmer would uncover a classic sports car that had long been forgotten in a barn or a lucky person would find a tin of Honus Wagner baseball cards in an attic.
Tales like this turned me into an amateur treasure hunter at an early age. I remained an amateur for my entire treasure-seeking career as hacks don’t make money.
However, that never killed the romance that surrounded traveling to a mysterious place searching for valuable prizes. I once dated a girl concerned about the nature of the relationship between her mother and me because we’d hit estate sales on the weekend.
Some of you have probably been around casinos and gambling since before I was born. That undoubtedly makes for exciting stories, but you may have something else of value tucked away in a back bedroom or the attic.
Old slot machines can be worth a significant chunk of cash. Let’s take a look and see how much gold you might have buried under sixty years of National Geographic issues.
Why Do People Want Your Old Slot Machine?
People collect slot machines for a wide array of reasons. Some collectors are looking for a specific aesthetic to add to their collection. Old slot machines are works of art that may not have modern bells and whistles, but they have something today’s machines can’t touch.
Old slot machines have style. The mere presence of an old slot machine can completely change the feel of a room.
Another reason players collect old slot machines is for their mechanical craftsmanship. These machines didn’t have the luxury of modern random number generators.
Instead, they relied on complicated mechanisms to ensure the house always won. Engineering aficionados appreciate the simple brilliance of the inner workings of old slot machines.
Next, you’ve got the players who are in love with the historical aspect of old slot machines. Each machine has a different story to tell.
I imagine that most of the enjoyment with this group of collectors comes from tracing the games’ history and imagining the lives of the men and women who played them.
Finally, you’ve got the nostalgia collectors. These are similar to the guys my age that are dropping thousands of dollars o GI Joe sets because they never got one as a kid.
Many of the nostalgic collectors played on these games when they were younger and want to hold onto some of that energy. One thing that many of these collectors have is a passion for casino gaming.
The Market for Old Slot Machines Is Trending Up
As with everything else from an era behind us, these games are trending on the high side. Part of this is because so few of these games survived in good working conditions.
Because of how companies manufactured games pre-1950, replacement parts weren’t available. When a game broke or malfunctioned, they went to the scrap pile.
As games were retired and replaced with newer games, most of the games were again scrapped or sold to smaller casinos. Regardless of the path the antique games took, the result is there aren’t many of the games still around.
High demand and low supply are the number one way to drive prices through the roof. That’s where prices for old slot machines have gone, but you need to have good games for the audience.
The Major Factors for Determining a Slot Machine’s Value
Pulling the trigger on buying an old slot machine is a significant decision. Purchasers want to be assured they are getting a quality item that is expected to appreciate with time.
You can determine what you have and stave off the low ball offers with the following information:
- The make and model
- The serial number
- How many original parts are in the game
- A list of any replacement parts
- The game’s condition
- If the game still has its cash box or not
- A certificate of authenticity
Machines holding more original parts and in good working order bring considerably more cash than games missing pieces.
Having the serial number and a certificate of authenticity can prove that your machine came from a specific casino. That’s attractive to collectors because of the history.
It also opens you to a broader scope of collectors who may be looking for items from a specific casino. When a serious collector misses that wow piece for their collection, prices can go through the roof.
Selling old slot machines is like selling anything; you need the buyer who places the highest value on your item. My dad used to tell me that something was worth what someone was willing to pay for it.
When it comes to old slot machines, people are apt to pay a lot of money.
Why These Games Are So Prized by Collectors
Old slot machines are far from the most popular casino or gambling items. Tons of gambling fanatics collect decks of cards, dice, and other things that were once used at their favorite casinos.
Still, there may not be any more profound way to make the state that you’re a serious collector, like having your own slot machine or collection of devices.
When slot machines sit at the top of casino games in popularity, they share similar success in the collectible market.
For players that recall all the amazing adventures they had playing slots at a Vegas casino that’s since closed its doors, having a small piece of that casino in their home can feel amazing.
Primary Options for Pinning Down a Game’s Value
There are more resources for determining the value of the slot machine you’ve stashed away than you’d think. There are several websites dedicated to the value of old slot machines.
You can also find retailers who specialize in antique casino memorabilia. Many of these businesses will specialize in slot machines, making them experts on the subject.
Then there are the auction houses. Looking at the prices of similar items that have sold recently should give you a clue as to what your item will bring.
Where you shouldn’t look to ascertain a value is eBay or private sellers. People can ask any price they choose for an old slot machine, but it’s not worth squat if it isn’t selling.
You could make a grilled cheese sandwich and slap a $1 million price tag on it, but it’s still worth about $3.
Highly Prized Pieces of History That Are Most Sought After
Some games stand out at the top of the market. These games have little pieces of everything that make slot machines valuable. Some of these games are valued at over $300k, so don’t hesitate to send a 5% commission my way if you have one in the kids’ treehouse.
How much is an old slot machine worth? Here are some popular antique slot machines that are certain to fetch a high price:
- Mills Blue Bell ten-cent (1948)
- Mills Black Cherry five-cent (1947)
- Watling Treasury five-cent (1933)
- Watling Coin Front quarter machine (1935)
- Harrah’s Club Pace Four Reel ten-cent (1950)
This list represents only a tiny sample of what’s available to serious collectors. In standard used condition with some replacement parts, these machines are worth $8-$10k.
The value of your old slot machine will depend on age, condition, and rarity. For the low-end games, the prices will start in the thousands and go up, assuming the game is in good condition.
For the most pristine games in demand, you can expect a solid five-figure payday.
Conclusion – How Much Is an Old Slot Machine Worth?
Probably more than you would think, for the games you purchased decades ago, they’ll be worth way more than you paid.
The key is finding someone that wants what you’re selling. You could sell your prized slot machine to a retailer, but they’ll need room to make money.
If you go the auction route, you’re dealing with auction house fees and a lot of uncertainty. You may be best suited to infiltrate the collector’s market and see who you can get to bite. Ultimately, old slot machines are worth what you can get a collector to pay for the device.