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NJ lets Golden Nugget move gambling outdoors

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — For the past few years, Atlantic City's casinos have been thinking outside the box when it comes to ways to drum up new business and compete with gambling halls in neighboring states.

But the Golden Nugget Atlantic City is doing so literally by becoming the first casino in New Jersey to offer outdoor gambling.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement recently granted the casino's request to move three blackjack tables onto its outdoor deck. Tom Pohlman, the casino's executive vice president and general manager, said the outdoor games debuted right before Labor Day weekend and did better than expected.

"It's the only place in Atlantic City where you can play blackjack, listen to live entertainment, look out at the beautiful Atlantic City skyline and look out over the water," he said.

Casinos dealing with cutthroat competition from neighboring states have expanded gambling into areas where it never had been before, meaning patrons can now gamble at bars, pools and shopping areas.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort kicked off the trend when it moved slot machines into The Quarter, its retail shopping and dining area across the street from the casino itself.

Harrah's Resort Atlantic City moved tables into its swimming pool area that by night doubles as one of the city's most in-demand nightspots.

And the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort put table games, including $1 blackjack tables, into its Ego Bar & Lounge.

Atlantic City's casino revenues fell from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion in 2011. So far this year, the casinos revenues are running 7 percent behind that pace.

The Golden Nugget's predecessor, Trump Marina Hotel Casino, once offered table games outside the casino floor, but they were surrounded by roll-up doors and had a roof overhead, so they were not considered to be truly outdoor games, said Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the gaming enforcement division.

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC