Is Mobile Device Gaming Caught In A Vise?

Posted on 2016-06-30 by Sean Williamson

Mobile Gaming

Has mobile casino gaming suddenly become caught in a vise? It appears this may be the case in New Jersey, particularly for Atlantic City casinos. Although a state law was enacted relative to mobile device gaming, suddenly an arm of the state’s government, the Gaming Enforcement Division, has joined the fray as of October 1, 2012. According to spokesperson, Lisa Spangler, GED cites a need to address and resolve issues related to underage participation, intoxicated gamers and issues related to the casino floor smoking ban. Ms Spangler maintains that these problems can be readily observed and dealt with on the casino floor but not unequivocally when mobile devices are in use.

The GED seeks allowance for the use of mobile devices that are solely owned and issued by a licensed casino operation. Currently no casino has applied for this required mobile device usage license. In contrast, casino operators are up in arms because of various financial expenditures some of which have proven unnecessary. As a case in point, operators cite the expense imposed upon them following legislation banning smoking on casino floors. This regulation forced casino owners to undertake costly renovations to create smoking areas only to have these designated areas become useless following the state’s rescinding of the smoking ban.

One arm of the vise appears to be cinched around the financial impact on Atlantic City casinos relative to licensing and mobile device acquisition costs pending the possible passage of nationwide gambling legalization. At this point in time, GED points out that casino ownership and issuance of mobile devices would benefit resort operators since usage could be restricted to designated areas.

In view of New Jersey Governor Christie’s recent expression of fear that the use of mobile devices for gaming within the state could result in a rise in the number of backroom gaming cafes already suspected to in existence in an effort to circumnavigate state law, the GED is looking to the Nevada Gaming Control Board regulations as a frame of reference. Effective October 8, 2012, new NGCB regulations restrict the use of mobile devices to dice, card and slot games only and a $2,500 per day wagering limit.

New Jersey’s GED is interested in how Nevada’s GCB is addressing various other issues. According to the gaming board, from mobile device usage, Vegas casinos only reap approximately $1.35 million of the total $10.7 billion gaming industry revenue. In Vegas, mobile device usage is permitted in all public areas of a resort property as well as in guest accommodations. New Jersey is also watching the impact of a change in Nevada gaming regulations requiring 75 percent of revenue generated by unredeemed tickets to be reported to the state as opposed to the current right of individual casinos to retain and not report unredeemed ticket revenue.

Currently under New Jersey law, guests at Atlantic City casino resorts are allowed to use their personally-owned mobile devices for gaming purposes both on and off of the casino floor including in parking lots and garages.