Myths vs. Reality

Why Do Casinos Avoid Certain Bills and Coins?

Bankroll money
Written by Joshua

I had a player recently ask me why their casino cashier favored 50 cent pieces over quarters when making change. It reminded me of a topic I haven’t really talked about here but that occasionally comes up: Why do casinos seem to favor certain bills and coins over others!

For instance, many casino bill breakers and dispensers only tend to have $1s, $5s, $20s and $100s. You won’t tend to find $10 or $50 bills in them. You’ll also see some casinos avoid dimes in favor of nickels and quarters.

The main reason for this is to streamline things – by having less distinct bill and coin types in a dispenser, it allows more room for everything else, and you don’t have to stay stocked on as many types of bills. Cashiers will likely have some of those other bills, because people will use them, but in the machines the goal is what is most efficient to manage.

This isn’t unusual at ATMs either; my old home bank used to never put anything other than $20s into the machines, so you always had to withdraw in $20 intervals. (They’ve finally changed it and allow for $5 increments.)

Similarly, dimes are just extra noise when you can do the same thing with two nickels, although specifically for coins some of this also has to do with coin machines tending to favor nickel and quarter denominations over dimes for various reasons. When slot took coins that same favoritism existed.

Of course, now many casinos have taken coins out of the coin machines altogether to further save on effort, making us have to go to the cashier if we want to cash out those sub-$1 tickets.

While we’re on the topic, I have a friend who avoid certain bill redemption machines at casinos when she knows they’re out of bigger bills and only dispenses smaller bills.

But we got into a discussion about that as I’ve been to casinos where the first $100 is always in $20s, regardless of how much being cashed out. If you have a $700 ticket, you’ll get 6 $100s and 5 $20s.

My guess is at that particular casino they saw a lot of people breaking down $100s and they saw it to be more efficient to break $100 down automatically instead of slowing down the line for redemption machines.

But then there’s the time where machines run out of $20s and $100s and just hand you an overstuffed wallet full of $5s. At that point it can get a little frustrating.

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.


  • I was recently at an MGM property and I had an absurd amount of $20 bills (thanks to the ATM at the bank that thought it would be totally ok to give me 60 of them), and I asked the cashier to change most of it to $100 bills, but she said that they don’t change to higher denominations. She was perfectly happy to change one of my $100 bills to $1s though.
    They also won’t let you cash out change with the machines; you can donate it to a charity at the machine or it will print you a voucher for the change that you can either bet in a machine or take to the cashier to cash out.

    • I’ve heard the same thing outside MGM properties in a few cases – if the ticket machine spits out a lot of $20s, the cashiers aren’t necessarily interested in exchanging for larger bills. Just another point in the “should I just walk my ticket to the cashier” to go along with machines often not giving change anymore.

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