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Ultimate Guide to Buying a Slot Machine: Where and How to Buy One, Plus Legal Considerations

Adam Shaw By Adam Shaw

5 min read

Where To Buy A Real Slot Machine Featured Image

Owning a slot machine can be an exciting prospect for gaming enthusiasts or those looking to add some vintage charm to their home.

As slot machines grow in popularity for residential installation, it’s essential to understand the legal landscape, where to buy authentic and high-quality slot machines, and what to consider before making this unique investment.

With the retro appeal of slot machines on the rise, more individuals are exploring purchasing these devices for entertainment purposes.

However, buying a real slot machine is far more complex than it may initially appear. In addition to locating a reputable seller, potential buyers must also thoroughly research ownership laws, which vary widely by state.

With an array of classic and modern slot machines available, thoughtful consideration is essential prior to acquiring one of these machines.

Icon For The Heading - Legal Considerations Legal Considerations

Perhaps surprisingly, federal law does not govern the ownership of slot machines – this falls under state jurisdiction.

Each state sets its own regulations regarding owning a real money slot machine, ranging from total prohibition to few-to-no restrictions.

Given the consequences of violating gaming laws, it is the buyer’s responsibility to learn their state’s slot machine statutes inside and out prior to making a purchase.

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Full Prohibition vs Broad Legal Ownership

Several states fully prohibit the private ownership of slot machines, including Alabama, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, other states allow broad legal ownership, including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. Between these two extremes lie a spectrum of conditional permissions, primarily revolving around machine age.

States Regulating Based on Age

The most common legal stipulation requires slot machines to be older than 25 years.

States regulating based on age include California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.

For example, Florida permits machines 20 years or older while Missouri sets the minimum age at 30 years.

States Restricting Based on Manufacturing Date

Less frequently, states restrict slot machine ownership based on manufacturing date rather than the machine’s current age. Slot machines must have been produced before:

  • 1941 in New Jersey
  • 1950 in Georgia, Idaho and Kansas
  • 1952 in Washington DC
  • 1954 in Vermont
  • 1984 in Colorado

These nuanced state-level age and manufacture date thresholds intend to limit ownership to vintage slot machines for collection purposes rather than potential unauthorized gambling. Despite neighboring states having opposing stances, federal law does not override state policy.

Icon For The Heading - Types Of Slot Machines Types of Slot Machines

As interest in owning antique and historic slot machines has grown, so too has the hobby of collecting these unique gambling artifacts. Authentic slot machines come in a variety of forms from different eras.

These can broadly be grouped into mechanical vintage machines, electromechanical classic slots, and modern electronic games.

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Icon For The Heading - Where To Buy A Slot Machine Where to Buy a Slot Machine

Vintage slot machine collectors have no shortage of places to purchase authentic gaming machines both online and in specialty stores across the United States.

Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Reputable retailers like Slot Machines Unlimited and Gambler’s Oasis sell refurbished units alongside more modern games retired from casinos.

Well-regarded specialty stores focused on vending machines, jukeboxes, and arcade games also frequently carry slot machine inventory.

Shopping in person allows prospective buyers to inspect machines, learn their history, and get seller advice before committing.

Brick-and-mortar stores also offer secure payment methods and buyer protections, given their longstanding presence. However, the selection is limited to local inventory.

Well-known brick-and-mortar slot machine outlets include:

  • Gambler’s Oasis
  • San Diego Antique Slot Machines
  • Slot Machines Unlimited
  • Slot Machines USA
  • California Music Vending
  • Heavy Hitters Music

Expect to spend $1,000 or more for iconic vintage units like Bally’s Money Honey or Gottlieb’s Triple Action. Less scarce late-20th century Bally and IGT machines tend to cost between $500-800.

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Online Marketplaces

eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and niche auction platforms connect buyers and sellers nationwide. These sites offer a broad selection ranging from antique machines to commercial casino trade-ins. Carefully vet seller feedback and listing accuracy before purchase.

Scrutinize images to identify wear, damage, or undisclosed modifications that may impact value.

Ask sellers about the machine’s full operational history and ability to provide provenance documentation. Industry forums like Casino Collectors News connect fans to reputably sourced machines.

While possible to find deals, extraordinary bargains like $50 slot machines are likely scams given shipping scale and costs. Ensure sellers have reasonable asking prices based on wider market rates for desired machines.

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Icon For The Heading - Considerations Before Puchasing A Slot Machine Considerations Before Puchasing a Slot Machine

While owning an authentic slot machine sparks visions of reliving gaming glory days, prospective buyers should carefully weigh several factors before committing to avoid frustration down the road.

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    All-In-Cost

    Carefully tally both the machine’s upfront price and ancillary transportation, installation, maintenance, and future repair expenses.

    Given their age and complexity, most vintage machines require some degree of refurbishment and ongoing upkeep. Does the total cost fit comfortably within your discretionary budget?

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    Physical Footprint

    Machines stand over six feet yet weigh under 200 pounds on average – measure all route access points to move units from curb to placement site without damage.

    Likewise, assess floor load limits before installing in second story spaces. Leaving adequate access room around machines for serviceability also prevents cornering yourself through narrow placements.

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    Ongoing Care

    Slot machine ownership is an active commitment, not passive decoration. Ensure ready access to qualified technicians for repairs beyond your competency level.

    Does the seller or independent contractors provide this expertise? If not, dedicate time to train yourself through manuals and enthusiast forums.

    Additionally, source parts distributors and component fabricators to keep your machine operating for decades.

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    Location Selection

    Slot placement deserves careful consideration given their sheer visual presence commanding attention, not unlike placing a jukebox or pinball machine.

    Avoid hijacking household sightlines by situating machines in dedicated gaming spaces or cellars rather than living areas open to entertaining. Balance nostalgic charm and practical placement through selective positioning in suitable spaces.

    Evaluating logistical considerations above prevents impulsive purchases potentially leading to frustrated owners with illegal slot machines hogging space and attention rather than sparking joy.

    Carefully weighing these factors ensures smooth securing of your ideal one-armed bandit.

Icon For The Heading - Making The Right Slot Machine Choice Making the Right Slot Machine Choice

Carefully selecting a slot machine aligned to personal interests, intended use case, and home aesthetics results in years of amusement.

Assess individual machine attributes along with practical space planning factors when deciding between the myriad options.

Personal Appeal and Intended Use

Slot machine types span a wide range from 19th century mechanical models to modern networked consoles. Consider which era’s features and operation best fits your gaming interests. Purely decorative machines need only eye-catching style while frequent players prioritize game library variety.

Size and Placement

Machines range from bar-top and counter-top units measuring just over two feet tall to large upright tower cabinets over six feet high.

Display-only countertop models nicely complement home taverns and man caves while fuller-scale upright devices better anchor spacious game rooms. Carefully measure intended installation areas accounting for operational and servicing clearance. 10 square feet provides adequate space for most machines.

Design Styles

Slot machines offer visual flair ranging from sleek mid-century modern spaceship curves to chunky 1970s earth tones to flashing neon accents. Evaluate preferred industrial designs, component materials, era-specific styling when selecting your ideal machine.

Display Longevity

Though less prone to shattering, plexiglass screen covers scratch and fade over decades of use, negatively impacting machine visibility. Opt for more durable glass screens to maintain clarity even for lightly-used collection pieces. Consider sourcing custom molded replacement covers for damaged vintage machines.

Managing expectations around third-party purchases and investing in desired proper preservation prevents purchasing slot machines lacking components or requiring extensive restoration. Measure twice and cut once – acting deliberately avoids frustration down the road.

Icon For The Heading - Conclusion: Where And How Conclusion: Where and How

Slot machine ownership interest continues gaining momentum as Americans seek new entertainment options and icons of nostalgia. When properly informed on state laws and educated on machine types, acquiring an authentic slot can provide a legal thrill with minimal risks.

Approaching potential purchases armed with realistic constraints around budget and space while buying only from trusted sellers ensures smoothly securing your ideal one-armed bandit.

Adam Shaw

Author

Hi, I'm Adam Shaw, the Chief Editor at VegasSlots.net. I love casinos and have been working in the slots industry for more than 12 years. My passion for slots and casino games made me create this website, and under my supervision, our team will make sure you're enjoying the latest games and getting the best online casino deals!

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