TRENTON — Atlantic City casinos may soon be able to allow patrons to take their games poolside, barside or wherever they like in the casino.
The state Assembly gave final approval, 77-0, to a bill that would allow casinos and racetracks to use mobile gambling devices, among other things. State senators are expected to vote on the bill Thursday — and it would take effect as soon as Gov. Chris Christie signed it.
State lawmakers have pitched this as a way to help revitalize Atlantic City’s gambling industry, which is in a multiyear slump.
Joseph Tyrell, regional vice president for Harrah’s Entertainment, said the company was considering it because it was a way to keep moving forward and give patrons something else to do while they visit the resort’s casinos.
But it is unknown how effective this will be.
A fiscal analysis by the state Office of Legislative Services noted that the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved mobile gambling in 2009. However, OLS called the subsequent revenue “immaterial,” with wireless gambling accounting for just $84,000 — 0.01 percent — of Nevada’s $865.5 million state gambling tax revenue in 2011.
Lawmakers remained optimistic Monday.
“There are so many enjoyable things to do at Atlantic City’s casinos and hotels, it just makes sense to allow guests to take their games along with them,” said Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic.
Added Assemblyman Chris Brown, R-Atlantic: “To keep Atlantic City competitive, we need to make sure the law keeps up with reality and technology.”
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, D-Hudson, chairman of the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee, said: “If a couple or a group of friends … wants to lounge by the pool, or take in a show or dinner, those who want to take advantage of gaming attractions can now have it at their fingertips so they don’t have to miss out on any of the action.”
The 40-page bill also takes other steps to clean up 2010’s landmark casino-regulatory legislation, generally tinkering with the existing law. Among other things, it would change the definition of “gross revenue” to allow casinos to more easily give away iPads and cars, determine that junket operators did not need to be as closely regulated as the casinos themselves and allow New Jersey casinos to participate in multistate slot machine progressive jackpots.
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