Well, this is certainly an excellent idea.

The state will allow the city's casinos to run fantasy sports-betting tournaments in which fees are collected and prizes paid through the casino cage, like any other casino game.

The activity will not be considered gambling - because it is seen as a game of skill not a game of chance - and casino revenue from the tournaments will be taxed as nongambling revenue.

Fantasy sports leagues are huge these days. What started as the kind of thing a group of friends in a college dorm or an office might agree to play has become an Internet phenomenon that generates almost $500 million a year, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

If you have somehow missed this emerging aspect of modern sports culture, fantasy sports tournaments are contests in which participants create a team made up of individual players from various real teams and compete against other fantasy teams based on statistics the players generate while playing real games.

Under temporary rules published this week by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City casinos could offer the tournaments on mobile devices or in person.

The casinos could also partner with existing fantasy league companies, provided those companies receive a casino-vendor license.

In-person tournaments would seem to hold the most promise for Atlantic City's casinos. There are an estimated 35 million fantasy-league participants in the United States, with a mean age of 41, according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. College graduates are twice as likely to engage in the pastime as nongraduates.

So imagine Atlantic City on a big NFL Sunday, during the World Series or during next year's March Madness (the rules come too late for this year's NCAA basketball tournament). What better way to play in fantasy tournaments than to come to a casino and eat, drink, hang out (and perhaps gamble for real) while your games play out during the day or night?

The demographics - young, college-educated, affluent - are exactly the kind of customers Atlantic City is desperate for.

Another plus: The sports leagues that are battling New Jersey in court to block the implementation of real sports betting can't possibly complain. The leagues have said in court that playing fantasy sports is different from gambling - in the words of lawyer Jeffrey Mishkin, "the difference between playing Monopoly and real estate."

The Division of Gaming Enforcement deserves credit for acting creatively and proactively here.

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