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Atlantic City Pares Back Slot Machines

Atlantic City is responding to the needs of its players on a lot of different levels. The current economic hardship has proven that casinos are not a recession-proof industry. Players have cut back on their play, and their play is more about getting the most out of their money. Players are demanding more fun and less clutter in the casinos. In response, casinos are moving out the huge banks of old machines and moving in fewer of the new, fancier machines. Games like ‘Sex in the City’ and ‘The Amazing Race’ are replacing fruit machines and older themed machines.

Some of the move is economic. Machines that aren’t played but are out on the floor still require maintenance. As a result, if machines aren’t played to a reasonable capacity most of the time, the casino prefers to pull them from the floor. Machines that stop generating interest are pulled to make room. That room can be for machines that do generate interest or it can be room for larger aisles. Over recent years, casino patrons have started wanting more floor space, more air, and a better overall experience.

In January 2005, there were nearly 42,000 slot machines in Atlantic City. These days, there are around 29,000. Atlantic City casino executives point some of the blame at the Pennsylvania casinos which have opened their slot machines to compete with Atlantic City, drawing customers not only from Pennsylvania, but also from many communities in northern New Jersey. For residents of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, for example, the Bensalem, Pennsylvania casino is around a 45-minute drive, while Atlantic City would take about twice that in driving time.

Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island, and West Virginia are also noting slumps in slots machine revenues and have taken some of their machines off of the floors. Mitchell Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut said “Basically, we’re just reacting to a lack of demand. If there isn’t a demand for a large number of machines, there’s no need to have them out.”

In Delaware, the introduction of table games is hoped to even out some of the loss in slot machine revenue. For Atlantic City, though, the decline just continues. The casinos are going to have to find more ways to appeal to the public. For those who remember Atlantic City before the casinos, the beaches, the boardwalk, the peanuts, and the salt-water taffy have been lost in the blur of casinos. Maybe it’s time to demolish some casinos instead of trying to spread the meager profits among so many casinos and let the city return to its former glory.

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