ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - At the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, dealers like Linda Lombardo don't have to do "the wave" when smoke gets in their eyes.
A table does it for them.
The casino, which opened last year with a slew of gambler-friendly touches, has 120 custom-built table games equipped with nozzles that blow fresh air up, creating an invisible barrier between cigarette-smoking players and the dealers.
Each of the Air Rail System machines developed by Paul-Son Gaming Supplies contains four small slots on the table felt, just in front of the chip float.
Connected to duct work contained beneath the surface, they subtly clear the air in front of the dealer, who can turn them on or off or rotate the nozzles to adapt to conditions at the moment.
The tables, which were introduced on blackjack, Pai Gow, Caribbean Stud poker and mini baccarat games last year, cost about $400 more per unit than standard table games.
They are the only ones of their kind in Atlantic City, although some casinos in Nevada, Connecticut and California also have them.
"It sets up an air curtain in front of the dealer," said Ron Coiro, East Coast sales manager for Gaming Partners International, the manufacturer's parent company. "It's not 100 percent, but nothing is."
So far, the tables are a winner, Borgata officials say.
"When you're dealing and the smoker is right in front of you, like on a blackjack table, that's when you need it," said former dealer Paul Mollo, director of casino administration at Borgata.
"In the beginning, I had dealers coming up to me every day thanking me, saying it really works," he said.
Lombardo, 45, dealt cards at another Atlantic City casino for six years before being hired at Borgata.
"It's definitely a plus. The smoke doesn't gravitate toward your face. It's like a substitute for the wave of the hand. I don't see anyone doing that anymore."