ATLANTIC CITY — While mobile betting rules the landscape, especially in New Jersey, nothing beats a sportsbook during football season. Though the first two days of March Madness are close.
With the opening of the NFL season, we thought it was a good time to reboot the rankings for sportsbooks in the area. Biggest lesson learned with this research: either don’t lose your local guy’s phone number, or join the 21st Century and get a mobile account. Waiting in a long line to make a bet is so yesterday.
1. Resorts: Built an impressive room just off the boardwalk and surrounded it with kiosks run by DraftKings. The TV screens are mostly at eye level, which your chiropractor appreciates.
2. Ocean Resort Hotel: Always a good vibe here for large sporting events. Only two kiosks, though, so don’t wait until 12:55 to get in line for Sunday’s Eagles game.
2. Bally’s: This is the first NFL Sunday since they opened their new massive ‘book, which has been empty during non-football season. Part of the $11 million spent here (and at Harrah’s) includes private rooms and a 90-foot main screen. Kiosks won’t be in until October, so in-game wagering will be nearly impossible unless there is a commercial break. Again, not an issue with mobile betting. Chris Long is among those making a celebrity appearance on Sunday.
>> READ MORE: Previous A.C. sportsbook rankings
4. Golden Nugget: “Can’t wait for Sunday,” said a sportsbook manger there. “It’s gonna be like Christmas morning.” The GN expects to be allowed to take NBA action (except for the Rockets, who are owned by the GN’s owner) this fall. Kiosks sprinkled throughout.
5. Tropicana: Terrific place to watch a game, but could use more than two kiosks. The adjacent Chickie’s & Pete’s adds to the energy.
6. Hard Rock: Smallest, and in an area tucked away in the northern part of the massive property. An option for those who prefer a quiet place for a beer and a baseball game. Like most, have expanded hours of operation for football season.
7. Borgata: Their sportsbook is really a sports bar with a couple betting windows in the corner. They do have two kiosks, but neither are equipped to handle in-game betting. Also have a couple windows in the horse parlor.
8. Harrah’s: Also small, but more seating than Hard Rock. They’re also among those waiting for kiosks to arrive. Only A.C. sportsbook with no bar connected to it.
1. Parx, Bensalem: Newest and nicest. It’s attached to a beer garden, which has an outdoor area. USB ports built into the recliners. Run by Kambi, which seasoned sports bettors criticize for unfairly low limits, especially compared to what Vegas joints offer. Plenty of kiosks. Worth the trip from Center City, especially on a crisp, fall day. No hotel on site.
2. Valley Forge Casino, King of Prussia: FanDuel’s only brick and mortar operation in our area. The sportsbook is small, but there are plenty of kiosks. Connected to a Radisson.
3. SugarHouse, Philadelphia: Work continues on the permanent sportsbook. Mid-October was an original target, “hopefully sooner,” said a SugarHouse exec. Plenty of kiosks ring the current ‘book, which gets very tight during big events. No hotel.
4. Park, Oaks: A horse-racing parlor with sports betting. Couple hotels within walking distance. Beer snobs won’t be impressed by $2 Miller Lites, but that’s their problem. Amber the bartender says try the wings.
5. Harrah’s, Chester: Nice space, but a little small. Plenty of other viewing options on site beyond the sportsbook. Hoping to add kiosks in a few weeks. Until then, in-game betting is extremely limited. No hotel.
6. Parx, South Philly: Another off-track betting location, and about a two-block walk from Lincoln Financial Field. This will be the first Eagles game since they opened sports betting two days after the Birds were eliminated by the Saints last year. No hotel.
As the NFL celebrates its 100th season, the American Gaming Association estimated the league will make $2.3 billion a year in ancillary income from legalized sports betting.
While the sports books and bettors sweat out point spreads, the benefits to the NFL are “largely as the result of fan engagement,” the AGA said.
So every point of a TV rating, every Budweiser ordered, every insurance commercial with a talking lizard equates to more money for the country’s richest league because sports betting has expanded.
Funny thing is a hundred years ago, baseball was about to become awash in the Black Sox World Series fixing scandal. Whether you like betting or not, regulated markets are much healthier for all the leagues. It’s taken awhile, but they’re starting to understand that.
The NFL had the same issue 20 years ago with fantasy football. They used to hate it.
New Jersey online site PointsBet says that 90 percent of the money it has taken for the Eagles-Redskins game is on the Birds. “It is not among the biggest games in terms of handle, but it is definitely one of our biggest decisions [because of] the one-sided action,” said Matt Chaprales, head of content.
William Hill sportsbook also will be rooting for Case Keenum and Washington.
“No big bets but every ticket is on the Eagles,” Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill, said on Thursday. “Straight , parlay, teaser you name it. The ‘Skins will be our biggest or second biggest need of the week.”