If it turns out that the solution to the six-year slump at Atlantic City casinos fits into the palm of a gambler’s hand, then good things really do come in small packages.
That’s probably putting too much faith, though, in the latest attraction being considered for the Shore resort: allowing patrons to place bets on their cellphones, iPad-style tablets, and other mobile gadgets.
New Jersey regulators issued temporary rules for mobile betting effective this week, following state lawmakers’ approval earlier this year of a law permitting the wagering innovation that’s already in use in Las Vegas.
Mobile-device bets would work only while at a casino, thanks to technology that would block wagering elsewhere. The state Gaming Enforcement Division’s new rules also provide safeguards against underage gambling.
With the advent of mobile betting, Atlantic City casinos would have something to offer that’s not available in the Pennsylvania casinos, which — along with other states’ entry into slots and table games — have driven down casino revenues in Jersey.
That’s contingent, of course, upon Atlantic City casinos' jumping on the mobile bandwagon — something none have committed to do. In addition to technological costs, casino officials are said to be wary that Internet gambling might trump mobile bets soon.
Caution is welcome for other reasons with the move to mobile gambling. The use of such devices would permit virtually nonstop gambling — even when patrons step away from the slots for a bathroom break. More wagering means more winnings for the casinos, but, inevitably, it also means more casino patrons at risk of falling into a problem-gambling habit.