Sam’s Town ads ‘push’ envelope

Apr 17, 2001 6:41 AM

Although newspaper ads touting Sam’s Town slot machines appear to exaggerate how "loose" they are, experts say they probably don’t cross the line into false claims.

The ads state that figures released by the Gaming Control Board "confirm what smart players already know; that, on average, the slots at Sam’s Town are much looser than those on the Strip or in Downtown Las Vegas."

Indeed, Gaming Control revenue reports indicate that casinos on the Boulder Strip - which includes Sam’s Town - have a slightly higher payback to slot players than those on the Strip or downtown.

According to the latest revenue report, Boulder Strip casinos paid back 95.4 percent to slot players, versus 93.92 percent and 94.53 percent on the Strip and downtown, respectively.

And, while it seems logical to assume Sam’s Town slot machines return is at least the Boulder Strip average, it’s not explicitly spelled out in Gaming Control figures or the ad itself.

"There’s no way to know whether the numbers actually support their claims," said Shannon Bybee, director of the International Gaming Institute at UNLV and former member of the Gaming Control Board. "Who knows, Sam’s Town could have hold percentages double the area average."

Bybee added that the latter isn’t likely, but that the ad "helps readers draw an inference that’s not directly supported by the facts."

"I’m not saying it’s wrong, but it encourages you to make this leap," Bybee said.

Bybee said there are few precedents for the Gaming Control Board to discipline a casino for ads that "push the envelope" of truthfulness.

"I would expect the board could issue a warning and tell the casino to be more careful in the wording of their ads," Bybee said. "This incident doesn’t seem as flagrant as the old Vegas World ads that were run by Bob Stupak over a decade ago. His casino was assessed fines in six figures."

The Gaming Control Board’s tax and license division is currently reviewing the issue.