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Slot industry defies talk of a downturn

Apr 16, 2003 8:53 PM

SLOT MAKERS FEELING NO PAIN: Despite talk of a downturn in the economy, slot manufacturers are still "riding the bull."

"Casino managers are bullish as ever about adding new slots to the floor," said a well-placed pipe. "In fact, they’re turning over inventory faster than ever before."

Those trends are contained in a report by an investment research firm based in New York, the pipe added.

Specifically, about 60 percent more slot managers this year than last said they would replace up to 15% of their games on the casino floor.

Another interesting trend is the reversal of slot managers to shy away from wide area progressives such as Megabucks and Wheel of Fortune.

"They are actually devoting more space to the wide area progressives," the pipe said. "They’re relying on the perception that people want to play for the big jackpots."

GamingToday will have a complete analysis of the report in an upcoming issue.


A MILLION DOLLAR MYSTERY IN ARKANSAS: A promotion staged by the marketing department of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) to increase the attendance at the Oaklawn Park racetrack for last Saturday’s Arkansas Derby worked perfectly ”¦ almost.

The promotion was simply a mailer to 511,000 people that offered vouchers guaranteeing the recipient at least a $2 wager. Of the total sent out, about 79,000 names came from the Oaklawn mailing list.

On Derby Day, 8,613 vouchers were redeemed. Unfortunately, all were for $2. The person whose voucher was worth $1 million (and there was only one) failed to show up at the track to be officially installed as the track’s first millionaire.

Oh well, maybe next year more people will pay attention to the clutter in their mailboxes.


IRS CHECKS MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Apparently some casinos have noted that business has been a bit light lately. But, how many are blaming Uncle Sam for the lack of IRS tax refund checks?

Jack Gallaway, president of the Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE), told interviewers on Bloomberg Television last week that the company’s 13 properties have reported a marked decline this year in the number of IRS refund checks being cashed.

There was no explanation for the decline.


A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW: When it comes to gaming, professional sports leagues have been adamant in preventing relationships between their activities and obvious gambling links.

In fact, even Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner said that he opposes Hall of Fame status for Pete Rose because of alleged gambling activities. Said Kiner, "Every player who has ever played, especially since the Black Sox World Series in 1919, has been told there can’t be gambling. If there’s gambling and the integrity of the game is compromised, it could ruin the game of baseball."

So it came as some surprise when it was announced that an Internet casino, situated in St. John’s Antigua, has become the sponsor of the radio broadcasts of the Montreal Expos.

True the Expos have been in financial difficulties but accepting money to promote the Golden Palace Internet gambling site? Mon Dieu! What is Major League Baseball coming to?


SLOTS FOR MERCHANDISE: While the Texas legislature debates whether the state’s racetracks should be authorized to install slot machines, "eight-liner parlors" are already offering slot fun to their customers.

"They have to be the adult version of Chuck E. Cheese," is how the D.A. from Brazoria County described the slot parlors.

Since Texas passed a law in 1995 to permit games of chance that give winners tickets to be exchanged for merchandise rather than cash prices, there has been a proliferation of these slot parlors.

Efforts to shut them down have failed until now. Last week the state Supreme Court ruled that "gift certificates like those awarded (by these machines) are equivalent to the monetary amount on the face thereof in cash" and are therefore illegal.