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Aerial photo of Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, Showboat Atlantic City Hotel & Casino and Revel project in Atlantic City, Tuesday Mar. 2, 2010.

ATLANTIC CITY - Showboat Casino Hotel has developed the latest marketing trick to have customers come, sit and stay in a gambling town.

In a development sure to give the competition paws ... er, pause, Showboat Casino Hotel will become the city's first dog-friendly casino starting Feb. 24.

"I would imagine that for all of those people who have the famous picture of dogs playing poker, this might be an attractive casino choice for them," joked Joseph Weinert, senior vice president of Linwood-based casino consulting firm Spectrum Gaming Group. "But seriously, I'll give Showboat's management credit for trying to tap new markets. This would appear to be a fairly small market, but it is a new market. This city desperately needs to reach out to a new customer segment."

Known as Pet Stay, the program is coming to Atlantic City after a successful launch at eight casino hotels in Las Vegas operated by Caesars Entertainment Corp., Showboat's parent company. The company hopes it will produce the same results at Showboat.

"This initiative puts Showboat at the forefront of Atlantic City's world-class offerings and will bring more customers to our casinos without having to leave their pets behind," Joe Domenico, Showboat's senior vice president and general manager, said in a statement.

Showboat boasted that it is "marking its territory as the only dog-friendly casino in Atlantic City." Depending on how well it is received, Pet Stay may be introduced later at the three other Caesars Entertainment casinos in Atlantic City - Bally's, Caesars and Harrah's Resort.

"We'll see if it works and if we can expand it so we can roll it out to the other properties," said Michelle Messina, vice president of advertising and public relations for Caesars Entertainment Atlantic City.

Feb. 24 is the first night that dogs and their owners can check in. Showboat will begin accepting online reservations for canine-friendly rooms Feb. 14. The casino plans to throw a promotional party March 3. At that time, Showboat will present a $1,000 donation to the Ocean City Humane Society in honor of the casino's furry guests.

Showboat may be going to the dogs, but there will be restrictions. Nine dog-friendly hotel rooms will be limited to Showboat's New Orleans Tower. Dogs will be allowed in the hotel and public areas of the property such as the lobby. However, they will be banned from the casino floor, restaurants, bars, spas and retail shops, Messina said.

Guests will pay an extra $40 per night to have dogs in their room, although Showboat plans to waive the fee for the first two weeks during an introductory promotion. The casino will allow dogs weighing as much as 50 pounds each and a maximum of two per room.

Also, the Pet Stay program is open only to dogs. No cats will be allowed.

Upon arrival, pooches will be welcomed with in-room amenities, including treats, food and water bowls, a doggie mat for sleeping on, disposable waste bags and a keepsake duffle bag.

Showboat has created a special "relief area" at States and Pacific avenues for dogs to do their business. The area consists of an open lot that will be roped off.

Messina said Showboat was selected as the trial property for the Pet Stay program because of its diverse customer attractions and its abundant space to accommodate dogs.

Contact Donald Wittkowski:


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