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How Much Money Does a Casino Keep on Hand?

Whether you’re setting up the next big casino heist or just want to know that you’ll be paid when you hit that million dollar jackpot, “How much cash does a casino keep in its vault?” is the burning question (don’t forget to check out our Casino FAQ while you are here).

The best way I’ve ever heard it explained comes from the movie Ocean’s Eleven, a terrific movie about 11 guys who conspire to rob a Las Vegas casino.

In this scene, Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) is pitching the group on why they should rob a particular casino. This is what he says about how much money is in the casino.

“The Nevada Gaming Commission stipulates that a casino must hold in reserve enough cash to cover every chip in play on its floor. That means on a weekday, by law, it has to carry anywhere between $60 and $70 million in cash and coin. On the weekend, between 80 and 90 million. On a fight night, like the one 2 weeks from tonight, the night we’re gonna rob it… $150 million, without breaking a sweat”

That sounds great and all, but is it true? I went digging and sure enough, it is. This is from the Nevada Gaming Commission’s website. You can read the entire document there.

(m) “Reserve” means a restricted account consisting of approved funding sources used exclusively to satisfy periodic payments of prizes arising from all gaming or promotional activity conducted in Nevada, and includes any existing funding methods previously approved by the board or commission. The reserve shall not be less than the sum of the following:
(1) The present value of the aggregate remaining balances owed on all prizes awarded to patrons who are receiving periodic payments. For balances previously funded using U.S. Treasury securities, the discount rate on the date of funding shall be used for calculating the present value of the reserve.
(2) An amount sufficient to pay the single cash payments offered in conjunction with qualified prize options for prizes previously awarded for which elections have not been made by the patrons;
(3) An amount sufficient to fully fund the present value of all prizes currently on public display for which periodic payments are offered;
(4) If cash is used as the approved funding source, an amount equal to satisfy the current liabilities to all patrons receiving periodic payments due and payable within 12 months; and
(5) Any additional amounts administratively required by the chairman.

What does all that legal mumbo-jumbo mean? It basically says that the casino must keep in reserve, not only every chip in play on the floor, but the total amount advertised on all slot machines and all the payments that the casino owes to previous winners.

I would say (conservatively) that even small casinos have $20 million or so on hand at any given time. That’s a lot of dough!

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