N.J. casinos may allow wagers on hand-held devices

A New Jersey Senate committee has advanced legislation that would allow Atlantic City casinos to offer customers hand-held devices to place their bets.

Supporters say the devices would be attractive to a generation of gamblers who have grown up using smartphones and iPads.

“This is an attempt to recognize the reality that we have a generation now of young adults who are used to getting their recreation and communication in the palm of their hand,” said Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.

Nevada casinos have been using hand-held gambling devices for the past few years, said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He says they are used mostly for sports betting and might not generate a lot of extra revenue for Atlantic City casinos.

“I think it’s going to be moderately attractive. I think it will be a way for them to develop their systems, test them out, and they may get some play from it,” Schwartz said. “You might have a little bit of horse race play on it, but I think the real play is going to happen if and when sports betting is legalized.”

Security is not a problem, according to Schwartz. He said players have to show their ID to get one, and the technology ensures they won’t function if they’re taken off casino premises.

They would, however, allow customers in Atlantic City casinos to make bets beyond the casino floor.

“If someone comes to the casino and they want to sit poolside and play blackjack or sit on the roof and watch someone play tennis and participate in one of the games, this would enable them to do that,” Whelan said.

The Casino Association of New Jersey supports the bill.

“There are some places in Las Vegas that do this type of mobile gaming. It’s another amenity. We have to think about how we move expanded gaming as we compete with these other markets,” said Joe Tyrrell is regional vice president of governmental relations for Caesar’s “We could be the real cornerstone of this market.”

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