Lots of slots to convert

Dec 23, 2003 6:50 AM

There are still plenty of slot machines ”” about 400,000 of them nationwide ”” that are waiting to be converted to ticket-in, ticket-out technology.

That’s a little over half the country’s total slot machine inventory (about 750,000).

Over the past four years, slot giants IGT and Alliance Gaming, have sold or converted about 311,000 "cashless" machines.

That’s a rate of about 70,000 machines a year. At that pace it should take the slot makers another five years to convert the remaining slots to ticket-in, ticket-out.

However, IGT officials have pointed out that not all the country’s slot inventory will (or should) be converted to cashless.

These machines include outdated or unpopular models that wouldn’t justify retrofitting them with the new technology.

Nevertheless, Wall Street experts such as Goldman Sachs predict there will be enough conversions to sustain manufacturers like IGT and Alliance for the next several years.

"We acknowledge that the North American market may never fully go cashless and some machines may never be replaced," Goldman Sachs states in a new report. "But cashless slots seem very similar to the rollout of bill validators ... and eventually North America wil be 100 percent cashless."