Come Thanksgiving, gamblers in Atlantic City won't have to be on a casino floor to gamble.
The Tropicana Casino and Resort is expanding gambling to The Quarter, its shopping and dining area across the street from the casino.
Tropicana president Tony Rodio told The Associated Press the casino got approval Friday from the state Division of Gaming Enforcement for a pilot program with 11 slot machines and two electronic table games. It hopes to eventually have 100 to 125 slots and live table games in The Quarter.
"This will be the first time ever in the history of Atlantic City that there's gaming on the city side of Pacific Avenue," he said. "It's pretty historic."
Since gambling began here in 1978, it was limited to the beachfront block along the Boardwalk. An exception was later made to allow casinos in the Marina District, where the Borgata, Harrah's and the Golden Nugget are.
Rodio said the machines are designed to give people waiting for dinner or a movie something fun to do while they're waiting.
"We'll get a lot of impulse play, from people waiting to sit down for dinner or waiting for their reservations or for a movie at the IMAX," he said. "On a unit-by-unit basis, I expect these machines will out-perform the ones in the regular casino."
He said the machines should be up and running by Thanksgiving, once installation of the hardware, electrical wiring and security cameras is completed. The pilot program will last 90 days, during which the gaming enforcement division will monitor how it is working.
"There are a bunch of families around there for the restaurants and the IMAX theater, and there is a concern about underage gambling; I'll be honest about that," Rodio said. "We'll be very vigilant about making sure that doesn't happen, and that's part of why there's a pilot program at first for this."
Assuming all goes well, Rodio said Tropicana eventually plans to have 100 to 125 slot machines added to The Quarter, along with an undetermined number of live-staffed table games such as cards, roulette and craps.
The Quarter is a 200,000-square-foot entertainment complex with 20 shops and 20 restaurants, and the IMAX theater. It opened in November 2004 and soon became one of the most popular entertainment destinations in Atlantic City.
The Tropicana has 2,078 rooms and suites, making it the third-largest casino-hotel in Atlantic City. It has 2645 slot machines and 139 table games.