ATLANTIC CITY - As far as vices are concerned, smoking and drinking are said to go hand-in-hand with gambling.

But not right now in Atlantic City.

In what seems like one more in a long list of "only in Atlantic City" moments, smoking has been banned from the gaming floors here - but only for the next 11 days.

If you want to light up, you have to go outside. Or into some casinos' sealed "smoking lounges," which contain no slot machines or table games. They don't offer cocktail waitresses serving drinks either.

"It ruins my rhythm when I play," said Dorothy Dondero, 69, of Runnemede, while she took a break from the slots at Resorts Atlantic City yesterday.

"I like to smoke when I play the slots. Now I have to stop and come out here and smoke, and then I lose my machine. And if it was a hot machine, then someone else gets it. I don't know why I even came down here. I should have just gone to Chester [Pa.]," Dondero said.

The ban went into effect at 12:01 a.m. yesterday after giving the city's 11 casinos six months to build smoking lounges on their properties. It will stay in effect only until Atlantic City's City Council can vote, likely Oct. 27, to delay for a year the no-smoking law it passed in April.

Last week, council members agreed to ban the ban after acquiescing to gaming industry leaders, including Donald Trump, who said the new law, coupled with the nation's current economic turmoil, would spell disaster for Atlantic City's casinos.

In September, gaming revenues dropped 15 percent, making it the single largest monthly decline in the 30-year history of legalized gambling here. Industry insiders said the economic downturn, high gas prices and competition from neighboring states with gaming caused the decline.

Trump Entertainment Resorts chief executive Mark Juliano said yesterday that because they couldn't light up, Asian gamblers appeared to abandon the games at the Taj Mahal Casino Resorts.

"The Asian pits are empty," he said at 3 p.m. "I mean empty. There's 15 games in the Asian pit, and by this time of the day, they're usually all open. We have two games open right now. They're from New York, and now they are going to go to Connecticut where they can smoke."

The American Indian-run casinos in Connecticut, such as the Foxwoods and Mohegan, do not restrict smoking. Slots parlors in Pennsylvania have imposed a partial smoking ban.

The temporary ban, however, may increase business from people who don't like to breathe secondhand smoke, according to Paul Mathers, 47, of Weehawken, Hudson County.

"My wife and I come to the casinos kicking and screaming with my parents, primarily because of the cigarette smoke. We aren't smokers, and after a while, the smoke really gets to you," Mathers said yesterday as he strode through Showboat Casino Hotel. "It's been really nice in here today."

Mathers said that if Atlantic City banned smoking permanently, on his family outings, he'd always steer toward the Queen of Resorts.

Casino workers, with the aid of the American Cancer Society and other antismoking groups, began a fervent push for a smoke-free workplace after a statewide smoking ban inside public places exempted casinos in 2006. Proponents of the ban say they will continue their fight when the economy rebounds.

Leslie Burke, 49, a Showboat dealer who has worked in the casinos for nearly 25 years, said she welcomed the change and hadn't noticed a downturn in business during her shift yesterday.

"It seems about the same, business-wise," Burke said. "And guests have been telling me they like it better without all the smokiness. I do, too."

Martin Mason, a security guard at Harrah's Atlantic City, where he's worked for 15 years, said, "It's nice to be able to breathe clean air."

At Resorts and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino, no lounges are offered. Smokers are relegated to public benches on the Boardwalk.

"Now you have to worry that maybe one of these wise guys is going to follow you out of a casino and rob you while you're out here just trying to have a cigarette," said Regina Crowley, 71, of the Mayfair section of Philadelphia.

Evelyn Coccio, who came down on a bus trip from Bristol, R.I., said she was previously unaware of the smoking ban.

"I probably would give them more, but not now. I'm going shopping and spend it on myself," said Coccio, who had won $400 at the Hilton Casino yesterday but didn't like standing outside on the Boardwalk to smoke.

Inside, smokers' didn't find the situation more to their liking.

At Harrah's, which may have anticipated that the ban would last longer than a week and a half, rows of chairs have been lined up next to cocktail tables. Only ashtrays greet gamblers inside several of the designated smoking areas. Large and small signs proclaiming "Smoking Prohibited" adorned casino entrances, areas between table games, and on the tops of slot machines.

"There isn't even a TV or a magazine or a newspaper in here. It's like a jail in here," said Bob Feldscher, 62, of Long Island. "I don't like it in here one bit. I feel like I've been bad and been sent for a time-out."

Like many smokers, Feldscher was quick to point out that smoking hasn't been outlawed in casinos in Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania.

"My wife likes to come here, but if it was up to me, we'd go elsewhere," Feldscher said. "And if they ever ban smoking permanently here, we'll definitely go elsewhere."

Carol DiBiase, 47, of Cherry Hill, opted to go outside Harrah's for her smoke break.

"I asked for an ash tray and they said, 'This is a nonsmoking casino,'" DiBiase said. "It upset me so much I had a colitis attack. I've been coming here for 20 years, but I won't be back until they allow smoking again."

Others, however, said the economy, more than any smoking ban, would determine how many visits they would make to Atlantic City in the future.

"Sure, I like to smoke, but it's not going to stop me from coming here if they ban it," said Debbie Cushman, of Independence, Ky. "It's more about the cost of coming here. But I do worry about individual freedoms. What will be next, temperance groups saying that drinking shouldn't be allowed in casinos because it's bad for you?"