Atmospheric turbulence imposes a limit on the resolution attainable by large ground-based telescopes. In the visible, adaptive optics (AO) systems can only partially compensate turbulence-induced distortions. Hence, the light intensity at the telescope image plane is a random variable. In order to check the light intensity statistics we have developed an experimental setup that simulates simultaneously the atmosphere and the AO effects. Phase modulation is produced by LCDs extracted from a commercial projector. It is shown that experimental histograms of the light intensity at the image plane fit the theoretical Rician distribution.