Atlantic City casinos will be able to offer patrons mobile devices on which to gamble under legislation Gov. Chris Christie signed on Wednesday, but when that actually might happen remains questionable.
The new law, which was among several Christie signed this week, made it legal for patrons to gamble on casino-issued mobile devices while anywhere inside the property, including by the pool or in their rooms.
But before the law can take effect, the Division of Gaming Enforcement must prepare and enact specific regulations governing mobile device gambling — a task that may take until the end of the year to finalize, spokeswoman Lisa Spengler said.
Casino executives said they would examine the possibility of offering the devices but offered few promises.
“I don’t think it’s a big game changer,” Tropicana Casino and Resort president Tony Rodio, who also heads the Casino Association of New Jersey, said of mobile device gambling. “(It’s) similar to Internet gaming but within the four walls.”
The similarity between mobile device and Internet gambling is among one of the considerations casinos must weigh before spending any substantial amount of money on buying and supplying patrons with the equipment, Rodio said.
If New Jersey was to authorize Internet gambling — Delaware recently legalized it — casinos might want to wait for that, rather than invest money on mobile devices, Rodio said. Under the legislation Christie signed, the devices can only be used inside a casino hotel in Atlantic City.
In addition, mobile devices are most popularly used for sports betting, particularly in Las Vegas. However, professional and amateur sports leagues filed a lawsuit this week seeking to block New Jersey’s implementation of it.
All of those factors would appear to make casinos more hesitant about implementing mobile device gambling anytime soon. Still, casino executives said they were thankful the option was available.
“We are very pleased that the legislature and the Governor have provided us this opportunity to offer mobile gaming as a means of further distinguishing our gaming offerings from jurisdictions that compete with AC,” Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa’s Senior Vice President of Operations Joe Lupo said in a statement. “Since mobile gaming is a relatively new development that has not yet been widely deployed in other jurisdictions, it is something that we are closely looking into in terms of what offerings our customers would be most interested to play.”
In addition to mobile devices, the new legislation amended other sections of the casino deregulation law passed last year, including correcting a technical oversight so that now the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority uses all of its assets and revenues toward projects in Atlantic City.
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