In the cards

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Auburn farm may have hit jackpot with its “waffle” cleaning card. Viva Las Vegas!

AUBURN – Next time you’re on a roll playing the slots, you might thank a local manufacturer for keeping your lucky machine humming.

A division of Enefco International just landed a contract to make specialized cleaning cards for all the gaming machines operated by JCM American, which owns 90 percent of the U.S. market.

“It’s very, very exciting for us,” said Peter Klein, CEO of Enefco, the parent company of KIC Products, which developed the cleaning card. “It’s very difficult to quantify at this point what it means in terms of new jobs or sales, but it is the most important program the company has.

“Ask me again in three months,” he said.

JCM, based in Las Vegas, makes tens of thousands of devices called bill validators, in gaming industry lingo. Paul Speirs, spokesman for JCM, said each casino in Las Vegas has about 4,000 bill validators. A little closer to home, there are 7,000 JCM units in Foxwoods.

Each device accepts paper money, validates it and allows the slot machine to play, or spits out a redemption ticket. With each use, the innards of the device get more gummed up with oil, dirt and other debris transferred from the money.

Enefco’s cleaning card uses a waffle technology that allows the cleaning surface to expand or compress to reach all the nooks and crannies of each validator’s inner workings. The cards were developed jointly by KIC Products and JCM, customized for the gaming equipment.

“The No. 1 concern for bill validators is the acceptance rate,” said Speirs. “The higher the acceptance rate, the happier your customer is. And the cleaner the bill validators are, the higher the acceptance rate.”

JCM is recommending each casino operator use only the KIC cleaning cards, tying its warranty to the product. It’s the first time JCM has ever endorsed a cleaning product, said Speirs.

Not only will the cards keep the devices cleaner, but Speirs said they will save casino managers significant time – and the resulting revenue loss – by cleaning much quicker. Now, a slot machine has to be shut down, cordoned off, opened and manually cleaned. Each time a machine is opened, a security guard has to be present.

“This technology will allow a casino manager to cover a whole floor (of machine cleanings) in half a shift versus what used to take days,” said Speirs.

Jimmy Timmins, spokesman for KIC Products, said Enefco has the ability to make 40,000 waffle technology cleaning cards a day at its Minot Avenue plant. They will ship their first order later this month.

Klein said once orders start rolling in, he’ll feel easier about predicting the impact of the JCM contract. The cost of the waffle cards – $2.50 each versus flat cleaning cards at 40 cents each – may put off some casino managers until they realize the time and efficiency savings from them.

“The final test will be how quickly (distributors) sell to casinos and how fast they re-order,” said Klein.

Depending on the success of the waffle card in this market, Klein said KIC could look at other markets for tailor-made cards, such as vending machines, bill changers and banking machines.

“There are hundreds of companies out there,” he said, noting the patent is pending on the waffle cleaning cards. “This is where we see our revenue growth.”

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