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NJ clears way for portable gambling devices in AC

Associated Press Published: October 9, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey has cleared the way for casino patrons to gamble on their iPads, smartphones and other mobile devices.

But amid uncertainty about whether Internet gambling will ultimately be approved or banned, the Atlantic City casinos seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach before actually offering hand-held gambling.

The state Gaming Enforcement Division issued temporary regulations governing gambling on hand-held devices that took effect on Monday. The state passed a law earlier this year permitting the use of mobile gambling devices.

"These regulations are another example of the cooperation of all our partners and use of our own imaginations to move past the prescribed technology," said David Rebuck, the division's director. "Most importantly in this process was the development of regulations that provided safeguards to prevent underage gambling, and to continually ensure the integrity and security of mobile gaming in New Jersey."

Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the division, said no casino has yet applied to begin using such devices.

That may be because it would entail significant costs for casinos that might prove to be a waste if Internet gambling is approved, either within New Jersey or nationwide. Several years ago, while Atlantic City was pondering changing its casino smoking laws, several casinos spent millions erecting enclosed smoking lounges that ultimately were not needed when a proposed smoking ban on the casino floor was scrapped.

"Think of putting a bubble over each casino: this would be Internet gambling under that bubble," said Tony Rodio, president of the Tropicana Casino and Resort and head of the Casino Association of New Jersey, the industry's trade group. "It costs money to build that bubble. If Internet gambling happens, that bursts the bubble I just spent all that money to build."

New Jersey has been moving to adopt an in-state Internet gambling law, but Gov. Chris Christie has expressed concerns about its constitutionality. He vetoed a first attempt at Internet gambling, citing among other things the possibility of unlicensed Internet gambling cafes popping up.

Despite the uncertainty over online betting, Rodio said the Tropicana is studying what it would cost to get hand-held gambling up and running.

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