Atlantic City lawmakers to discuss mobile gambling bills


WhelanDiscussions will be held by US lawmakers later today on two bills which could open up the possibility of mobile gambling devices to Atlantic City patrons. If passed, the bills would also offer hefty tax breaks – and as much as $200 million in state tax credits – to companies seeking to build non-gaming attractions in the resort,  a report by PressofAtlanticCity has revealed.

The two bills are updates of last year’s historic casino deregulation and Tourism District legislation, with new elements, such as that of mobile gaming.

Sponsor of both bills, Sen. Jim Whelan, who also chairs the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee, will be heading the discussion today in what he describes as an attempt to interest younger gamblers. He said: “They play computer games, and so on, and they text and they Facebook on their iPads and their smartphones, and so forth, and so I think it makes sense to recognize what was not even thought of 30 years ago and is now a reality.”

The report maintains that discussions with regulators in the past have made him confident such devices could be kept out of reach of underage players. He added that though it would free gamblers from the casino floor – it’s still a long way from real, full-blown internet gambling, which remains illegal in the state of New Jersey.  “You step off the premises and this thing goes kaput,” he added. Instead, what the bills would allow is wireless play limited to gamblers with established accounts, playing approved games inside the casino property on regulator-approved devices.

The lobbying arm of the resort’s casinos – The Casino Association of New Jersey – is in support of it, with association President, Bob Griffin, stating: “This innovation would provide an additional amenity to help Atlantic City further distinguish itself as the East Coast’s premier gaming destination.” Whelan said this was a long-standing request from the Greater Atlantic City Regional Chamber.

If passed, will the bills pave the way to legal internet gambling in Atlantic City, or even the state of New Jersey? If not, will they at least help it get back on track against the big boys?