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Atlantic City Roundup

22 December 2003

Another casino tried playing fast and loose with a claim of having the loosest slots in Atlantic City.

Sands Casino Hotel issued a press release last week boasting that it "has the best slot payout for the last six months." Actually, the Atlantic City Hilton does, returning 92.13 percent of wagers to gamblers.

Sands' claim was based on the period from May through October, but it made the claim seem current even though the November numbers had already been released by the Casino Control Commission.

Further, Sands made a statistical error, claiming its slots paid out 92.4 percent when, in fact, the payout was 92.05 percent - a difference of $3.6 million in theoretical winnings.

Sands President Tom Davis said a typo was to blame for the number error. The outdated claim was due to the "lag" time in preparing the marketing campaign, he said.

A week earlier, the Division of Gaming Enforcement said it would investigate a current "loosest overall slots" claim by Resorts Atlantic City because the data was based on its 2002 payout.

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A member of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission seemingly has disappeared without a trace.

Ralph Frulio is no longer a commissioner, and neither he nor anybody can say exactly why he was not reappointed to a full five-year term. He had joined the commission in May, filling an unexpired term that was to end in August. Frulio served till August, stayed on through the 120-day maximum holdover, then had to leave without explanation on Dec. 2.

"I'm in the fog as much as anybody about this," Frulio said.

Seems that Frulio's reappointment got lost in the bureaucracy of Trenton. A spokesman for Gov. James McGreevey said it's likely that the administration assumed that casino commissioners, like other state appointees, had an unlimited holdover. In any event, spokesman Micah Rasmussen said, "There are plans to renominate him once the Legislature reconvenes."

In the meantime, the casino commission is operating with four commissioners, has it has done several times in its history.

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The racetracks in neighboring Delaware concluded a frustrating year with an 11 percent decline in slot-machine revenue, to $47.2 million, for the five-week November reporting period. It was their 12th straight month of year-over-declines since the state enacted an indoor-smoking ban a year earlier.

In Connecticut, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun reported combined November slot revenue of $131.4 million, up 5.5 percent. They do not publicly report their table-games revenue.

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Bally's Atlantic City paid a $50,000 fine for violating several regulations three years ago for a high-roller who demanded that the casino quicken his financial transactions.

Tropicana paid a $30,000 fine for improperly issuing a market two years ago. Trump Taj Mahal paid two fines of $10,000 for allowing underage gambling and a $15,000 fine for failing to verify a signature on a marker last year.

At the same meeting, the Casino Control Commission added four alleged mobsters to the Exclusion List, meaning they cannot set foot inside any Atlantic City casino hotel.

They are: Harry D'Ascenzo, a reputed member of the Scarfo crime family; Richard Juliano, a reputed soldier in the Gambino crime family; Angelo Prisco, a reputed captain in the Genovese crime family; and Louis Ricco, a reputed captain in the Gambino crime family.

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Lightning struck twice for the Allen family: Eight months after her son Richard won a $500,000 jackpot on a Jeopardy! slot machine at Resorts Atlantic City, Darlene Allen won $537,672 on the very same machine.

Allen, 60, of Smoaks, S.C., had gambled only about $20 when the machine hit.

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Those who think they know Atlantic City's casino history can test themselves at www.funtrivia.com. Longtime visitor John Sproul of Rochester, N.Y., developed the 20-question quiz for the trivia portal site.

After registering (which is free), click on "Entertainment" and then "Casinos & Gambling" and take the Atlantic City Casino History. It's rated "tough," with an average score of only eight correct answers.

(Joe Weinert covers the gaming industry for The Press of Atlantic City. He can be reached at jweinert@pressofac.com.)

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