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Atlantic City Casinos Hit Big with Nickel Slots

25 February 2002

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Gamblers here are trading their quarters for nickels, with the ironic result being more revenue for the casinos.

"Nickel slot-machine revenue, or the amount gamblers lost, surged 62.1 percent last year, to $560.5 million. That caused declines in quarter (8.5 percent) and dollar (2.4 percent) slot revenue but helped overall slot revenue grow to $3.1 billion, up 1.7 percent, according to a Jefferies & Co. analysis.

"`I think it's the sense of excitement with these games,' said Dennis Gomes, president of resort operations for Tropicana parent Aztar Corp.

"…The new nickel slots typically offer a variety of bells and whistles, such as video `reels,' fancy graphics, digital sound, entertaining bonus rounds, brand-name themes such as I Dream of Jeannie and Wheel of Fortune and, most importantly, lots of perceived winning.

"The nickel slots are nickel denomination in name only. Gamblers are still inserting $10, $20 and $100 bills into the machines, but dividing their wagers into smaller pieces.

"…Had gamblers actually played only loose nickels last year, casinos would have had to transport, sort and wrap 11.2 billion nickels.

"The average `nickel' bet on Sands' 360 nickel slots is $1.05, said Tom Reale, the casino's executive director of slot operations.

"…The new breed of nickel slots do have a better payout percentage than their predecessors. They generally pay out in the low 90-percent range compared to mid- to high-80s years ago, Reale said.

"…Casinos are continually replacing quarter and dollar slots with nickel games. Today, one out of five Atlantic City slot machines is a nickel game, up almost 50 percent over the previous year…"

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