TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Adults who patronize Atlantic City's casinos will soon be able to gamble at the pool or while waiting in line at the buffet.
Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation increasing gambling options to include hand-held devices.
Mobile gambling will be restricted to the casino property.
Democratic Assemblyman John Burzichelli of West Deptford, who co-sponsored the bill, said hand-held gambling devices are a smart adaptation of technology by the casinos that will help keep them competitive in an increasingly crowded market.
Proponents say the mobile devices could provide a significant new revenue stream to struggling casinos.
Christie, who has backed efforts to make Atlantic City's casinos more competitive, signed the bill into law privately without fanfare.
"In order to position Atlantic City to remain competitive with neighboring states, we need to embrace the future," Democratic Assemblyman Ruben Ramos Jr. of Hoboken, another sponsor, said Wednesday.
The new law allows casinos to offer electronic versions of authorized games to be played on mobile devices within the property boundaries of any casino hotel facility. Devices will be owned and controlled by the casinos, and handed out to patrons who establish a pre-paid account with the casino.
Nevada approved hand-held gambling devices in 2006, allowing them only in public areas of casinos.
The state Division of Gaming Enforcement will now have to come up with regulations to ensure the integrity of the devices and to make sure they are kept out of the hands of underage patrons.
Division Director David Rebuck has said there are a number of safeguards that could be built into the devices to discourage underage gambling, such as requiring the re-entry of a PIN number into the device every few minutes.
The change comes as Atlantic City is working to pull itself out of a more than five-year revenue decline that followed the establishment of casino gambling in Pennsylvania.