Sports betting comes to Atlantic City boardwalk |
U.S./World Sports

Sports betting comes to Atlantic City boardwalk

Wayne Parry | AP
Gamblers play slot machines inside the Ocean Resort Casino on Monday, June 25, 2018, the first day of so-called 'soft play' in advance of the casino's formal opening on June 28. The property is the former Revel casino.
Wayne Parry | AP
The Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.
Wayne Parry | AP
This photo shows a newly installed sign on the facade of the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City N.J., Wednesday, June 27, 2018. The Ocean Resort Casino and another shuttered Atlantic City casino that were due to re-open on Thursday have already thrown their doors open to gamblers.
Wayne Parry | AP
Lee Gentile of Toms River, N.J. reacts to a winning spin at a slot machine inside the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. on its first day of so-called 'soft play' designed to test systems and equipment on Monday June 25, 2018. The casino will have its grand opening on Thursday June 28 along with the Hard Rock, which also began testing on Monday.

There will be sports betting offered on the Atlantic City boardwalk on Thursday. It’s a moment fans and degenerates will mark with fervor and lost cash. Just like the governor.

The Ocean Resort officially will open to the public at noon and though its opulent sportsbook isn’t ready, the casino will have about five auxiliary windows for bettors to lay action.

Business will commence just in time to for two afternoon baseball games and the 2 o’clock soccer matches between England and Belgium, and Panama and Tunisia.

Joe Asher is the CEO of William Hill US, which operates the sportsbook at Monmouth Park that opened two weeks ago. His company also is running the ‘book at Ocean Resort, the former Revel casino.

“The level of business [at Monmouth] has been exceptional,” Asher said. “I never imagined so much betting on World Cup soccer without the United States in it.”

Asher expects the Ocean Resort’s full sportsbook to be ready by late July or early August.

The Hard Rock Casino, located at the site of the old Trump Taj Mahal just south of the Ocean Resort, also is officially opening Thursday. They will not be offering sports betting, at least to start. Both casinos were granted permission for soft openings on Wednesday.

The fact that one property on the boardwalk is taking sports action is a monumental leap from where New Jersey was at this time last year when Nevada still had the sports betting monopoly.

Ocean Resort joins the Borgata as the first two places in Atlantic City to offer sports wagering. Whereas the Ocean Resort looks at the Atlantic, the Borgata is in the Marina District and generally not walkable to the boardwalk.

Officially, the other AC casinos are planning sportsbooks, but executives aren’t commenting beyond releasing nebulous statements.

Unofficially, there’s plenty of anticipation, especially among the workers. As one pit boss at Caesars said, “I can’t believe we don’t have it yet.” It was a familiar refrain.

Reasons seem to vary from licensing issues to logistics to general unpreparedness. The Supreme Court overturned the federal law which banned sports betting outside of Nevada on May 14. The Borgata was ready and running by June 14. The others were not.

For the consumer, a brick-and-mortar sportsbook may become negligible once online gaming becomes a reality, which is expected in mid-July. At that point, putting $50 on the Phillies will be as easy as using an app.

Here’s the scuttlebutt of where things stand in AC:


Resorts – Hoping to get a sportsbook by football season, but are ready to launch online betting Aug. 1. DraftKings, which specializes in fantasy sports, will run the sports betting for Resorts.

Bally’s – Likely will house its sports betting operation in the Wild Wild West Casino, which has plenty of space and high ceilings – good for accommodating large TVs. Mid-August is what some of the workers are hearing.

Caesars – As previously reported, they’ll likely direct customers to Bally’s. The two hotels are owned by the same company and are connected through a common hallway. That’ll come in handy during the NFL playoffs when it’s 10 degrees outside and a stiff breeze is blowing off the Atlantic.

Tropicana – They’re renovating the old rooftop bar at the showroom level with the goal to have it up and running by the time the Eagles host the Falcons in the NFL’s first regular-season game on Sept. 6.

Marina District

Borgata – Up and running with plans for hefty expansion. That expansion is unlikely to be finished for the start of football season. “We recognize that sports betting is a big opportunity,” said Mike Woodside, Borgata’s VP of marketing. “We want to do it right. We don’t want to just rush it.”

Golden Nugget – Targeting the start of the NFL season. The Nugget will not be permitted to accept NBA wagers since their owner, Tilman Fertitta, also owns the Houston Rockets. They can take action on everything else.

Harrah’s – Not real optimistic about Harrah’s, which apparently hasn’t started any new construction. With the sharpest indoor pool area in AC, a sportsbook would be a nice amenity during the dead of winter.

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