It’s been a year since the first sports bets were placed outside of Nevada. On June 5, 2018, Tom Barton put down the historic wager at Delaware Park. The ticket was printed literally 1 second after the window opened.
He actually placed the same bet twice: on the Yankees to win last season’s World Series. The first was for $20. The second was for $1,000. They were losers.
The ceremonies opening the sportsbooks ranged from casual to chaotic. Trying to get movie star Mark Wahlberg from the boardwalk up to the sportsbook counter on the sixth floor of the Ocean Resort was particularly harrowing.
Wahlberg was one of the few winners with his wagers. The Boston native not only had the Patriots to win the Super Bowl ($100 on 6-1 odds), but he also had probably the smartest bet of the dozen or so sportsbook openings attended by The Inquirer. Wahlberg bet $200 last June on the Cleveland Browns to go over 5.5 wins. Led by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, they went 7-8-1 in 2018.
But most ceremonial first bettors bet with their hearts and paid for it.
Resorts let VIP Mike Sylvester open its temporary sportsbook with a $500 bet on the Giants to win the Super Bowl at 40-1. That’s how you get to be a VIP. New York went 5-11. When the permanent sportsbook opened in November, former Giants linebacker Harry Carson put 10 bucks on the Yankees (7-1) to win the 2019 World Series. That still has a chance.
SugarHouse also rewarded some loyal customers, who rewarded the casino right back with losing wagers.
Seven bets were placed during its soft opening in December. Six lost, including $720 on a Flyers-Edmonton game and another $200 on a Lakers prop. John Mitchell won $100 after taking the Eagles to cover an 11.5-point spread against the Rams in Week 15. Two days later, during the official opening, city councilman Mark Squilla made the same bet for $20. The Eagles won outright.
It was a rough outcome for celebrity impersonators of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra who each put $100 on the Yankees to beat the Orioles in a game last summer when Harrah’s opened its sportsbook in Atlantic City’s marina district. The Orioles lost a franchise-record 115 games in 2018, but they sure found a way to beat Yanks that day. Don’t quit your night jobs, fellas.
Julius Erving lost $5 at the Borgata on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl (yeah, five bucks) and Brian Westbrook dropped $100 at Harrah’s Chester on Villanova to win the national title.
But at least Brent Celek’s bet is still alive. The former Eagles tight end opened FanDuel’s sportsbook at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in March with 20 bucks on Bryce Harper to hit more than 33 home runs. Harper has 11, on a pace for 30.