Resorts online lounge takes mystery out of Internet gambling
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Morris Bailey knows his customers, and as the owner of Atlantic City's oldest casino, he realizes some longtime patrons feel somewhat uneasy with Internet gambling.
To address that, and to try to break down the walls between in-person and online gambling, Resorts Casino Hotel opened an Internet gambling lounge Thursday.
Located just off the main casino floor, the lounge lets gamblers sign up for Internet betting accounts. More importantly, it lets them easily fund betting accounts, a difficulty that has held back the growth of Internet gambling in New Jersey during its first year and a half.
Bailey told The Associated Press it is crucial to integrate the casino's in-person customers with its Internet gambling offerings, saying the two will complement each other, not compete with each other.
"It will make our brick-and-mortar customers feel comfortable online, where maybe some of them are not," he said. "We can make it interesting and exciting. Some people fear the competition of online gambling to the brick-and-mortar casino. I think it's going to be an asset."
That has already proven to be the case at several New Jersey casinos that launched Internet gambling in 2013. The Borgata, in particular, says it has developed new online customers who had not played there before.
Resorts' online lounge is designed to be easy. Resorts President Mark Giannantonio said the lounge will be well-staffed with employees who will walk customers through the account setup process on their own phones, tablets or laptops. A kiosk in the lounge lets them feed currency into the machine and have it credited to their account, something that also can be done at the casino cashier cages.
Funding online gambling accounts has been one of the main difficulties that has kept Internet gambling from growing as rapidly as supporters had hoped when it launched in November 2013. New Jersey's online gambling industry took in $122 million in its first full year of operation in 2014. Many banks won't allow their credit cards to be used to fund Internet gambling, leaving patrons to use online wallets or other payment systems that can discourage less motivated customers.
The lounge is peppered with small tablets on which customers can create accounts and then gamble for real money. Large wall-mounted touch screens are for play-only to let customers familiarize themselves with the online table games and slots titles available at the casino's website, www.ResortsCasino.com.
Resorts is currently partnered with Sportech NYX Gaming LLC to offer online gambling. It still plans to add PokerStars to its lineup once the site's new owner, Amaya Gaming, is approved to operate in New Jersey.
"We are anxiously awaiting that process to be complete, because Resorts will then be the leader in the online marketplace in New Jersey," Bailey said.
Resorts is the sixth of Atlantic City's eight casinos to offer Internet gambling, along with the Borgata, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Caesars and Bally's.
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