rom the Boardwalk to the Marina District, Atlantic City’s eight land-based sportsbooks were filled with avid gamblers and casual fans, all eager to watch a full slate of games during the first weekend of professional football.
As reported by the Press of Atlantic City, online and mobile sportsbook operators in New Jersey may take nearly 80% of all wagers throughout the year, but on the first Sunday of professional football, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks were handling plenty of action.
At the official grand opening of The Book inside the Wild Wild West Casino at Bally’s Atlantic City — the resort’s largest sportsbook at nearly 15,000 square feet — former Philadelphia Eagles players Chris Long, Hollis Thomas and Fred Barnett greeted fans, signed autographs and took pictures.
Among the fans there to bet on the home opener against the Washington Redskins and meet his Eagles heroes was Thomas Killian, 39, of Chester Pennsylvania, who spent the weekend in Atlantic City in preparation of the NFL’s first Sunday.
“This place is perfect for watching the games, hanging with friends and, hopefully, winning some cash,” Killian said, while showing his bet ticket at The Book that showed his $100 wager on the Eagles to win by more than 10 points. “We’ve never been to Atlantic City for football before, but I think we’ll be back.”
Further down the Boardwalk, at the William Hill Sportsbook in Ocean Casino Resort, Justin Teegs, 25, of Highland Park, Middlesex County, picked against the Jets although he is a fan of Gang Green.
“I always bet against my teams,” Teegs said. “That way if they lose the game, I still walk away happy.”
While bettors and fans enjoyed the first NFL Sunday of this year, the casinos and sportsbooks were equally pleased. The Press of Atlantic City reports that one sportsbook manager, who could not speak on the record because they were not authorized, said Sunday “was the busiest the windows have been” since sports betting started in New Jersey last June.
“We’ve had more walk-ups, more first-time players (today) than I’ve ever seen,” the manager said. “A lot of $10 and $20 bets, but people are really into it. You can see what it’s doing for the restaurants and bars and casino,” gesturing to a crowded gaming floor and standing-room only bar.
Since legalized sports betting began in New Jersey in June 2018, an average of 80% of all wagers have been placed through an online or mobile operator, with daily fantasy sports giants FanDuel and DraftKings leading the way.