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Casinos opt for coinless slot machines

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- The clinking sounds of coins and tokens hitting the metal trays of slot machines at the state's two casinos will be gone by the end of the year.

Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun are joining casinos across the country in changing to electronic ticketing systems for their slot machines.

Casino officials and gaming analysts say players and employees often find it difficult to handle coins. They say the ticket system will make play faster and easier, and provides another way to reward players with bonuses. It also frees up some floor space because casinos will be able to get rid of their coin redemption machines.

To start play on the slots, players insert bills or tickets with credits. The slots will print out credited tickets when players cash out.

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun , which have a combined total of more than 13,000 slot machines, have already converted some of their slots and plan to finish changing all of them by the end of the year.

Suzanne Davidson of West Haven is a convert. She played one of Mohegan Sun's 3,000 coinless, slot machines recently. "I didn't know that I was going to like it as well, but I do," she said

Researchers who study gambling problems, however, say slots may become more addictive when the play is faster.

"I don't know if there's been any research on this, but the common belief among problem-gambling experts is that speed of play is linked to addictive potential," said Christopher Armentano, director of the state's Compulsive Gambling Treatment Program.

Frank Neborsky, vice president of slot operations at Mohegan Sun, disputes that assertion , saying most gamblers are responsible .

"If somebody has a problem, it doesn't matter if they're using coin or whether they're using Popsicle sticks," Neborsky said. "They're going to find a way to play."