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Q&A with Resorts Director of Slot Operations Mark Kashuda

7 September 2005

The Thrifty Gambler had an opportunity recently to speak with Mark Kashuda, the director of slot operations for the new Resorts East Chicago.

Kashuda took over a slot inventory that had the highest "hold" percentage (the amount of money wagered that's retained by the casino as revenue) among the 10 riverboat casino properties in the State of Indiana.

One of Kashuda's first official acts after Resorts took over ownership of the property from Harrah's Entertainment last spring was to "loosen" the dollar and five dollar units on the floor as well as improve the pay tables on the majority of the vessel's video poker machines to make Resorts more competitive with the market.

Thrifty Gambler: Are there any plans to bring in some new slot product?

Mark Kashuda: We are in the process of doing just that. We received approval to order 200 units from various manufacturers including IGT, Bally, Aristocrat and WMS. We'll be getting those new units in the next month. Then we'll be busy going through and converting some games, particularly video games that are somewhat ancient.

TG: Will that include some of the old platform WMS games you still have?

MK: Some of those perform fairly well and we're not going to be replacing many of those units right now. We're also looking to convert 16 dollar units to a penny progressive bank. Aside from that, we're just going to be looking at our floor and deciding where we need to convert themes that have really just run their time. Pretty typical of what any slot director would do.

TG: Are you going to be emphasizing the popular new penny games?

MK: We will be absolutely targeting the penny, two-cent and nickel market as we look to strengthen our five-cent product, and increase our penny and two-cent games.

TG: The penny games have really captured the gambling public's attention.

MK: They have, and it's created a whole different environment. Incidentally, the five-reel, multi-coin, multi-line game has brought a lot of excitement back to the reel product. For a while the video product really took over, particularly in the lower denomination. Sure they added a lot of excitement and fun to the game, but now that the five-reel multi-line, multi-coin games are doing the same for the reel product we're starting to see some comeback in that segment as well.

TG: Will the layouts of the gaming floors be changed?

MK: We had a meeting and discussed some changes to the floor. While nothing's been finalized there is ongoing discussion on changing the configuration of the floor.

TG: There have been significant changes made to the video poker sector.

MK: Yes. Clearly, if you wanted to play video poker in this area you went to Trump and Majestic. They did a nice job attracting that market, but now we're in a position where we have more units available, improved pay tables and much better able to compete for that segment of the market. We really won't mess with the mix of the poker too much at this point. I think we're going to sit back and evaluate how effective our changes are. We will be replacing 46 units simply because they're outdated models, but right now we don't have any plans to either increase or decrease the number of units.

TG: What about the number of progressives that are on board?

MK: We've talked about possibly changing up the number of games that are on our progressive banks. We feel the really large number banks may present an opportunity for us, but the progressives have not been a main focal point as of right now. Certainly as we start to grow our business and understand it better we'll give it more attention. We're going to be changing the floor mix a little bit, get some new product in here and move forward, being very aggressive with our conversion and trying to keep abreast of what's going on in the market as well as keep new product in here.

TG: Any other major changes coming to the slot floor?

MK: I would say it's pretty safe to say that we'll have a penny progressive on the floor. I've just got to get a sign replaced and that's the only thing that could hold me up. The two-cent Double Diamond progressive will stay. It's a great bank of machines and adds a lot of excitement to the entrance area. We'll be looking to put a nice sign there.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp