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N.J. Casino Has Slot-Machine Bikes

November 3, 2000

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ Sweating your losses? In casinos, almost everyone does, but that may no longer be a bad thing.

The Tropicana Casino Resort last week introduced the Pedal ’n Play, which marries traditional 25-cent slot machines with stationary bicycles that monitor how many calories gamblers have burned.

Users don’t even have to touch the slot machine: Handlebar buttons can control the amount of the bet and the spin of the wheel. A cup holder offers a place to store quarters.

To guard against cheapskates seeking free workouts, the pedaling works only if the rider is gambling.

The machines were invented by Kathy Harris, who found herself walking out of the Tropicana’s casino a couple of year ago so she could exercise in its spa.

``I was riding the bike, thinking ‘Where’s the slot machine?’ This is a casino. It didn’t seem right,″ said Harris, a mother of four from Fairfax, Va.

She formed Fitness Gaming Corp., which sells the Life Cycle 9100 and harness for $6,500. The casino then attaches the slot machine.

``Even if you lose at gambling, you walk away a winner,″ said Harris, who also developed a Money Mill treadmill.

The Tropicana installed 10 Pedal ’n Plays.

``It’s another niche. We don’t know how far it’s going to go,″ said George Mancuso, a Tropicana vice president.

Rose Rappa, 64, of Tallman, N.Y., tried the machine for the first time on Thursday and quit after five minutes. ``This is for kids, I got news for you,″ Rappa said. ``The exercise was good, my heart rate was good, but the machine’s a big loser.″

George Longauer, 47, of Conneaut, Ohio, gambled $10, won nothing but pronounced the machine ``a good gimmick.″

``My legs are tired. The thing is, you pedal faster thinking you’re helping the (slot) machine,″ he said. ``Just wait until somebody dies on it, though.″

Casino officials and Fitness Gaming already thought of that, Mancuso said. Both have insurance.

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