Slots at the Sands Pay Out Months After Closing

The Sands Casino may have closed down in November, but the last jackpot came this week. When workers arrived to remove the slot machines, they found over $17,000 in spare change in the casino. Michele Norris talks to Carmen Gonzales, a spokesperson for Pinnacle Atlantic City, the company that bought the Sands Hotel last year.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Now, here is an unusual story about a casino jackpot, especially since the casino in question has been closed for several months. The Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City shut down in November so developers could build a mega-resort on the same site. When workers arrived to remove the old slot machines at the Sands, they found money in the crevices in and around the machines, quite a bit of money: $17,193.34 to be exact.

Carmen Gonzales is a spokesperson for Pinnacle Atlantic City, the company that bought the Sands Hotel last year. And she joins us now. Carmen, where did they find all that money?

Ms. CARMEN GONZALES (Spokesperson, Pinnacle Atlantic City): The money was found, actually, in and around the slot machines and especially under the slot bases, the wooden structures that the slot machines rest upon. And as the slot machines were being dismantled and moved out of the building, and the slot bases were being pried up, that is where the bulk of the monies were found. They were just laying there, covered in dust and just waiting to be discovered.

And you have to keep in mind that the Sands was in operation for 26 years. So some of those coins have been there since the property opened.

NORRIS: Seventeen thousand dollars? Was it mostly in quarters or tokens?

Ms. GONZALES: Everything. We had pennies, nickels, quarters, half-dollars, and we even moved one bank of machines, and there was a $100 bill stuck in between two of the slot bases.

NORRIS: You know, it raises the question about how all that money got there. They must have been serving some mighty strong drinks...

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: ...that people were having a hard time getting the quarters inside the slots.

Ms. GONZALES: Well, that was the official tally: 17,193. And I understand today, I saw our auditor found a $1 token. So now we're up another dollar.

NORRIS: Oh, okay. So we actually had our total rise. Now, it...

Ms. GONZALES: We may even still find some more as the carpet's lifted, you know, et cetera.

NORRIS: In all that time, no one had ever pulled out machines for servicing or to do any work on them, or perhaps...

Ms. GONZALES: Oh, I'm sure...

NORRIS: ...to clean the carpet?

Ms. GONZALES: I'm sure they found some coins as the years went by. I mean, this isn't - not really unusual. As casinos renovate or reconfigure their floors, they're certainly finding coins underneath the machines. This isn't - this isn't something that's never happened before; of this magnitude, of course, because this is the first time in quite sometime in Atlantic City that an entire gaming floor has been completely dismounted.

NORRIS: Now, Pinnacle Atlantic City owns other casinos. Are you now going to be pulling out the slot machines at some of your other properties to see if you might find some extra money there?

Ms. GONZALES: I have not heard that that has been the plan, although they have to be prepared for quite a bit of mess if they tried to do that because it is quite a dirty job. And it took about four, five guys and couple of crowbars to get up some of these slot bases. So they really have to know what they're looking for if they want to try to do that.

NORRIS: So Carmen, who owns all this money now?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GONZALES: This money now belongs to Pinnacle Entertainment. But you have to keep in mind that we consider it revenue, and we have to pay taxes on it. It's just as if we were still open, and we were bringing in money.

NORRIS: What kind of form do you fill out for this?

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: I mean, what year do you file under?

Ms. GONZALES: Yeah. Well, it will show. You know, what's so funny is that we are now showing revenue for fourth quarter and the first quarter of 2007, even though the property closed in November of 2006. We have to declare it just like we would and any other property in Atlantic City would have to on, you know, whatever official documentation they have to, you know, submit to the state.

NORRIS: And you're not done, you still have to pull up the carpet. More money still might be found.

Ms. GONZALES: I would imagine so. I mean, that's what happened today. I mean, the auditor was just walking by and there was a dollar token. You know, they must have - you know, the guys must have moved some other pieces of equipment and there were some coins.

NORRIS: Carmen Gonzales, it's been good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Ms. GONZALES: Oh, it's a pleasure. Thank you for the interest.

NORRIS: Carmen Gonzales is a spokesperson for Pinnacle Atlantic City.

(Soundbite of music)

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

In Los Angeles, a former gang member takes to the airwaves and tries to bring peace to the city's violent neighborhoods. That's coming up next on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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