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Slot Machine Proposal: Mayors Continuing to Fight Legislation

Next week, Mayors of casino towns will head back to Springfield, continuing the fight against proposed legislation that would allow five new slots and casino at racetracks in the state.

A new coalition made up of mayors from nine towns, representatives from Cities Against Slots at the Tracks, traveled downstate last week to talk to legislators and inform them how the gaming proposal would slice into their revenue and negatively affect jobs. Des Plaines Mayor Martin Moylan said he plans to be there when lawmakers meet again, although the legislation is still being discussed in the Senate Gaming Committee. About the gaming proposal, Aldermen also have called area legislators.

Moylan said, “We have to be vigilant, but we’re not resting still.”

Midwest Gaming owes the state roughly $300 million over the next 30 years as part of a bid agreement. It is opening a casino in Des Plaines next fall.

With communities like Chicago Heights, Dixmoor, Harvey, Summit, Hodgkins, and five others, some of the revenue from the casino would also be shared.

Moylan added, “If our revenues are down, (those towns) will suffer also. If you have a small budget, this is a shot in the arm.”

To continue discussions, Moylan said that for this week, a conference call has been scheduled by the mayors from the towns. The coalition also has representatives from Peoria, Metropolis, East St. Louis, Elgin, Joliet, Alton, Rock Island and Aurora. On Nov.29, state lawmakers will meet again.


Betting Down by 25% at Pennsylvania horse tracks

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, betting at Pennsylvania horse tracks is down 25 percent from 2006.

In 2009, gambling on slot machines in Pennsylvania provided $236 million in subsidies to the horse racing industry, yet total betting at racetracks continued to fall, according to statistics released by the state.

Sustaining operations at racetracks such as Parx East - formerly Philadelphia Park - in Bensalem, the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association said Wednesday that the statistics prove slot machines are a "lifeline”.

Michael Ballezzi, executive director of the horsemen's association said, "We would not have live racing in Pennsylvania if not for the slot machines. The slot machines have saved our industry."

With the economy, the organization remains hopeful betting will improve. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, when casinos in the state began operating since 2006, total betting at horse tracks has dropped 25 percent. In 2009, racing fans in Pennsylvania bet $734 million on horses, which is down from $975 million in 2006.

Racetracks have suffered across the nation. From 2006, Wagering at all U.S. tracks is down 16 percent, according to Equibase, official supplier of racing statistics for ESPN. Despite a multi-pronged effort to invigorate the sport, comes the decline in betting in Pennsylvania. To the Pennsylvania Horse Development Fund, goes a portion of all slots revenue.

80 percent must be spent on higher purses and 16 percent must benefit breeder operations, of the $236 million generated for the horse fund last year. For horse owners and trainers, another 4 percent helps pay for health care benefits and pension plans.

Since slots were legalized, prizes paid to winning horses have doubled, according to the state. In 2009, total purses paid to winning horses were $134 million and the winners received $62 million in 2006.
Last year, Pennsylvania tracks hosted 11,539 races, which are up from 7,958 live races in 2006. More than 200 racing days are schedules this year in Parx East.

The Bensalem casino unveiled renovations to its grandstands located off Street Road in September. More people will be drawn to the racetrack, as the company plans for new betting areas, entertainment centers and restaurants.

Ballezzi said, in the races, a 24-table poker room, which opened inside the grandstands on Nov. 3, should also spur more interest.

Ballezzi added, "We agreed to have table games in the grandstands because we believe this will attract possible racing patrons. Unlike the slots, we believe that table games have a similar complexity to racing."


Promotions Featured As A Part Of Foxwoods’ New Slot Machine System

Players could find an unexpected surprise while diligently playing the slots at Foxwoods Resort casino starting next month. Promotions targeted to customers will be a part of 300 machines being tested on a trial basis. The machines will offer players deals and reminders that are specifically targeted to their tracked behavior.

Connecticut-based TransAct Technologies is using what is described as a highly sophisticated printer system to track players’ preferences. The idea is to add a personal touch to the machines. For example, if it's your birthday a coupon for some type of gift could pop out. If you are a poker fan it could provide a reminder of an upcoming tournament.

The system works via devices that are attached to printers the company already has on approximately 3,000 slot machines at Foxwoods. The devices provide a connection to software that will track the buying habits and game preferences of players by way of magnetic strips on club cards the players use.

The 300 modified printers will use this information to print out customized promotions. The machines fitted with the devices linked to the new system will be clearly labeled so players are aware of them.

If the trial run is successful, Foxwoods plans to expand the system to additional machines. Foxwoods is the first casino in the country to use this new system.

Foxwoods operates over 6,600 slots in total and believes this unique system will give them the edge over competitors and offer a unique personalized experience for players.