Borgata will let guests place bets on TV sets


ATLANTIC CITY — Guests at one New Jersey casino won’t have to get out of bed to place a bet.

The Borgata in Atlantic City said it will become the first casino in the United States to let guests gamble over hotel room TV sets, starting Monday .

Its E-Casino program will let guests with player’s cards set up electronic accounts and risk up to $2,500 a day. Slots and four kinds of video poker will be the first games offered.

The casino says the technology can be expanded to include gambling over hand-held devices anywhere on casino property, which New Jersey recently authorized, and full Internet gambling, if the state approves it.

“This puts us in a position to leverage the technology into true mobile gaming and Internet betting later on,” Borgata President and Chief Operating Officer Tom Balance said. “We’re moving forward with the future of gaming, and this is that first step.”

John Forelli, the casino’s vice president of information technology, said the system is designed not only as an added amenity, but to get guests familiar and comfortable with electronic gambling accounts for the day when Internet wagering comes to New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie last week vetoed an Internet gambling bill, but said he’d sign one with some moderate changes.

The casino does not expect in-room gambling to supplant a significant portion of its action on the casino floor. Rather, it views it as an added lure for customers.

Susan Marzetti, a casino patron from Staten Island, N.Y., said she wouldn’t try it.

“I like the ambience of being down here on the casino floor,” she said. “I like the noise of the machines. In my room, I’d find it depressing, to be honest.”

But William Frawley said he’d definitely use it during down time.

“I think it would be a great added feature,” he said. “I’d be willing to invest $100 and run it through there. Video poker, I’d definitely play.”

Borgata officials said they had no estimates of how much they expect to take in through the system, which is subject to a 90-day trial period by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Las Vegas already allows sports betting on hand-held devices.

Allin Interactive, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., company specializing in interactive television applications, built the system.

There are several controls to prevent minors or people excluded from gambling from using the system. A customer would have to have a Borgata player’s club card, which would screen them to ensure they are of legal gambling age and are not banned from any casino premises.

The PIN number used for the players’ club card would have to be combined with a temporary password provided by the casino’s front desk. Patrons would then go to the casino cashier cage and open an electronic account by providing up to $2,500 in cash, the maximum the state allows to be transferred into the system each day.

The system works using the TV remote control. Players can toggle back and forth among a slots game called Rum Runner’s Riches and four kinds of video poker. The casino eventually plans to add more games if the test period if successful.

Players who want to cash out just click a button on the screen and the proceeds of their gambling go into an e-wallet that can be stored for future visits, or paid out at the casino cashier cage, just like winnings accrued on the casino floor.

The technology is currently used on large cruise ships. It will be available in all 2,000 of the Borgata’s rooms.

 

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