By Lauren Wanko
It’s called e-casino — in-room television gaming. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa is the first to offer mobile gaming since Gov. Chris Christie approved the measure in August. Casino executives have no estimates on the potential profits but they insist the new amenity is another way to differentiate them from nearby competition — competition that’s been gaining an edge over Atlantic City.
“Part of the decision to do this wasn’t necessarily about the gaming revenue. It was more about the customer intent to return and the customer intent to return to Atlantic City,” said Forelli.
Here’s how it works. Guests must be MyBorgata Rewards members. That means they’ve provided proper ID, they’re given a pin number associated with their account and at check-in they’re given a second password. Guests then go to the cashier at the casino floor and deposit money into an e-wallet. Gamblers can only wager $2,500 a day. In the room guests are prompted to enter both passwords before playing. Right now video poker games and electronic slots are the only games available. Still critics insist mobile gaming can easily get in hands of underage players.
“You’re always looking to mitigate circumstances like that. And I think like we and the regulators in New Jersey feel that by providing both a pin and a password and then another step is you have to go to the cage to put money on deposit in person. And you’re being proofed during that step as well,” said Forelli.
It’s the first time in-room gaming will be offered anywhere in the country. Approved by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the system is subject to a 90-day trial period. After that, mobile gaming services could potentially go beyond the hotel room.
“We could expand this to other handhelds — guests’ smartphones, guests’ laptops, tablet computers — around the property. So what we’re looking at now is the marketplace to come up with content,” Forelli said.
Still others insist they’re coming to a casino for the atmosphere and gambling in the room or poolside just isn’t appealing.
“I don’t see where there would be the same action, plus people wouldn’t get down to the floor and it just wouldn’t be any fun,” said tourist Richard.
Forelli says he wouldn’t go so far as to call the new in-room gaming a game changer, rather an evolution — an evolution of gaming. The question is, will it keep gamers returning to Atlantic City? That remains to be seen.