Sunday, February 24, 2008

MGM Mirage On Fate of Fountain Coins

It seems the Wynn Las Vegas response that the coins are in some cases not cleanable is somewhat backed up by this response from Alan Feldman, the spokesman for MGM Mirage, who finally came back to me with a comprehensive response to the question asked by podcast listener Naomi in Israel weeks ago about what happens to the coins tossed in Vegas fountains:


Well, as you may have surmised by now, this was not an easy question to answer.

While most of the coins end up with charity, they have to go through a major cleaning process. Some are simply too dirty or damaged to salvage and are destroyed.

TI discards everything they clean out of their Pirate Cove area as the coins are simply too dirty to recover. The same for Circus Circus Adventuredome from the water rides they have.

The Mirage has in the past given the coins from the water feature near the people mover along the Strip to Shriner’s and Red Cross. They did not have an amount; they simply gave away the coins. My contact there said it was difficult to find an agency to take the coins because they had to be cleaned first.

Bellagio gives coins from their front feature to Habitat for Humanity, however our contact at HFH is saying the company that cleans the coins charges them 50%. As I recall a past conversation Bellagio, the Red Cross asked us to stop giving them the coins about a year ago, because the company they were using to process the donations, was going to raise their fee.

In 2007 approximately $22,000 was given to Make-a-Wish of Southern Nevada from the water features at New York New York.

Mandalay Bay and Luxor give theirs back to Voice, our company’s Foundation, where the monies are disbursed to charities throughout southern Nevada under the direction of a board made up entirely of employees. Last year, we deposited more than $33,000 into the Voice account from the fountains at these properties.

I know this isn’t a detailed accounting, but it’s what I was able to pull together in between calls on the fire and economy slipping into recession.

Any thoughts, folks?


Anonymous said...

Well, last night I was walking in front of the drained Mirage volcano area and there was a homeless looking guy grabbing coins from the waterless area.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the update. LinFromNJ

Anonymous said...

In the city where I grew up, there was a big fountain in the middle of the shopping mall. They cleaned the coins out every week, and what they pulled out always looked pretty clean. Most hard water deposits can be cleaned with vinegar or other acidic stuff, and there are coin cleaning machines that i've seen; they roll them around with ball bearings and cleaning solutions to clean them. All that effort might cost more than the money collected, however

Bruno said...

I think the casinos should post small notice that says they DON'T give the money to charity. For as long as I remember, I've always assumed that coins collected from fountains was given to charity. If it's not, I'm sure a lot of people would stop throwing their money away... What a waste!

Or maybe someone could invent something like the robot vacuum cleaner but for picking up coins at the bottom of fountains! :-)

Walt said...

I have a tiny side company in Dallas that cleans and banks fountain coins. We charge 25% plus shipping. Take a quick look at
It started as a hobby of collecting tokens and foreign coins.
It is not a big moneymaker but it is fun for me and the service gets the funds moving to those beneficiaries.
Walt McKay,

T.A. (Tommy) Stoddard said...

Fountain coins are often really nasty and unbankable. A company in Dallas, Tx handles every aspect of creating revenue for charities from the coins donated by casino fountains or other water features.
The History Channel show, "Modern Marvels" taped this process. It airs for the first time Nov 12, 2010 at 8:00PM CST.

Also, there is a blog ( designed to get charities connected with fountain owners and fountain owners to find charities.