A Call For Change: Colorado Casinos Affected By National Coin Shortage

Posted on July 16, 2020 - Last Updated on July 22, 2020

Colorado casinos want your loose change, but not because they want you to play their slot machines. Casinos across the country are facing a coin shortage.

Although there are ways to mitigate the effects of a dearth of dimes, some casinos have put out public calls for change. And, as the pandemic continues, coins may grow more valuable.

What’s behind the national coin shortage?

It’s all about supply and demand.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has curtailed retail spending with physical money, there are fewer coins in circulation. More people are using contactless forms of payment.

The vast majority of coins in circulation — 83%, to be exact — aren’t from the two national mints. They come from banks or other shoppers.

While the mints are trying to ramp up production, they face coronavirus restrictions like any other manufacturing business. One thing that may work in Coloradans’ favor, however, is that one of the two coin-producing mints is in Denver.

CO casinos aren’t content to wait on US Mint to make more coins available. They have taken the matter into their own hands.

Some CO casinos call for change, your change

Several casino operators in CO now offer a free coin exchange service, wherein casino guests can exchange their loose change for gaming credit. Century Casino and Monarch Casino in Black Hawk have begun such programs.

Dan Hedges, general manager of Century Casino, said:

“While we are not at a critical point, we are soliciting on our website a request for our customers and employees to bring any coin in for conversion. We are having issues receiving coins from our bank and, if this continues, we will have to look at other possible measures.”

For casino patrons, the upside is being able to trade in coins for their stated value. Many banks no longer offer the service free of charge, even to account holders. While third-party services for trading in coins exist, they charge a fee.

For the operators, there’s essentially no downside to the premise.

Not only do casinos address their coin shortage, but they also ensure that the revenue stays in-house.

While there are concerns regarding the cleanliness of coins, casinos are working to stifle that with latex or vinyl gloves. As Hedges alluded to, however, casinos may have to get more aggressive if the problem persists.

Could coinage experience deflation?

In economics, inflation is the gradual rise in the cost of goods, which causes a decrease in the value of a currency. Deflation is when a currency gains value.

Deflation regarding coins wouldn’t be a result of a drop in the cost of goods, however. Scarcity would be the force at work in this situation.

Continuing and expanding scarcity might prompt CO casinos to offer credit above and beyond the face value of coins. Operators would have to weigh their need for coins against the cost of such programs.

For now, a free exchange is the approach. If you have a jar of change, this may be the best time to cash it in.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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