ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- The appeal of a recent Powerball jackpot worth more than a half-billion dollars was not lost on New Jersey casino regulators.
The state has been working in recent months to form alliances with other states to link slot machines jackpots across state borders. The goal is to create larger jackpots that will be more appealing to players — some of whom will come to Atlantic City's casinos for a crack at them.
David Rebuck, director of New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement, said Wednesday the state has "aggressively" approached other states to set up such a system. He said he hopes to have a deal in place with one or two other states by the end of the summer. He did not name the states, but said the venture would be the first of its kind in the nation.
"In this competitive world, you need new forms of revenue," Rebuck said at the East Coast Gaming Congress, the gambling industry's annual conference in Atlantic City. He called the proposal "Powerball for interstate slots play."
"You have the potential for larger pools," he said. "It could generate interest that people will want to come and engage in slot play."
Slot machine revenue accounts for roughly two-thirds of the money won by Atlantic City's 12 casinos.
Rebuck said the technology already exists to link slot machine jackpots; it is routinely done among different casinos in Atlantic City, offering so-called "progressive" jackpots. It will not be difficult to extend that technology to casinos in other states, he added.
The director said he has approached a half-dozen states but was rejected by at least four that do not have the legal approval to enter into interstate gambling pacts.
The city's gambling halls are in the midst of a seven-year revenue decline, brought on by the Great Recession and the proliferation of casinos in neighboring states including Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and Maryland.
In 2006, Atlantic City's casinos won a high of $5.2 billion. That total had fallen to just over $3 billion last year.
The interstate concept is also a key to New Jersey's plans for Internet gambling. The state plans for now to limit Internet gambling to people physically present in New Jersey, but the law allows it to enter into compacts with other states or countries where Internet gambling is legal.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
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