The Atlantic City casino landscape is an eclectic mix of new, renovated, and old properties.
In addition to Harrah’s located on the marina side of town, parent company Caesars Entertainment owns the Caesars and Bally’s properties on the Boardwalk. Caesars and Bally’s definitely fall in the “old” category.
Bally’s casino opened back in 1979. From a parking garage that has clearly seen its better days, to worn carpet and faded directional signs, the Bally’s property feels every bit as old as its 40 years.
As I navigated my way toward the Bally’s sportsbook, I was trying to prep myself for what would be in-store at this property. I honestly didn’t know what to expect.
I’ve been reviewing every New Jersey retail sportsbook in advance of the NFL regular season kickoff. This one comes a bit after the kickoff, but for good reason.
As I began to map out my on-site visit schedule back in early July, I slotted The Book at Bally’s at the end of my itinerary, as its scheduled opening was not until the end of July.
With the venue now open and fully operational, let’s dive in and take a closer look at The Book at Bally’s in Atlantic City.
Initial impressions of The Book at Bally’s
Address: 1900 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
The Book, which opened on July 30 and had its grand opening during the Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday, Sept. 8, hasn’t yet made the listing on the directional signs at Bally’s/Caesars complex.
Entering from the parking garage is a bit of a journey, so just follow the worn carpets and faded signs to “Bally’s Wild West” or just ask a casino employee for some directions.
Well, the trite old expression of “don’t judge a book by its cover” certainly applies to The Book. From the moment I came down the escalator, I was blown away by this awesome venue. “Impressive,” “astounding” and “monumental” all come to mind, and I could go to synonyms.com and easily find 10 more words that would also apply to this sportsbook.
The former Coyote Kate’s Wild Wild West Slots Parlor space at Bally’s has been transformed into a state of the art and truly Vegas-style sportsbook. #Boom.
The 15,228-square-foot space is jaw-dropping, from its luxurious seating area, private fan caves, a “wall of beer” and TV screens of such scale, they would be right at home as part of the NYC “Times Square” landscape.
As previously mentioned, while finding this space from the parking garage was a bit arduous, The Book is much more easily accessible from the Boardwalk entrance, though from the exterior signs you would never know that there is a veritable “sports palace” lurking beyond the listed Wild Wild West and Guy Fieri restaurants.
To put the scale of The Book into perspective, it is almost 2x the size of the next largest AC books (Borgata sportsbook and William Hill at Ocean). As I have seen at other AC casinos, the sportsbook’s design and scale is relative to the space available in the existing casino space as most of the books have to be retrofitted into the property.
Well, Bally’s had plenty of room to work with and they most definitely “explored the space” when designing The Book.
Bally’s AC sportsbook is one contiguous enormous space. There are two humongous TV screens and a third that serves as a video wall with the ability to be formatted into multiple screens for multiple game action coverage.
The primary viewing area consists of 102 high-end leather seats, a back row with 30 VIP seats and lined table rail that includes video slots and seating for 28 more.
Also, since the space and the TV screens are so large, there is plenty of room to comfortably stand behind the seating area on the perimeter and watch the game action.
Under the large screens at the front of the Bally’s sportsbook are five private, fully enclosed fan caves each holding 16 to 24 people and available for pre-booking via online reservations.
All told, that’s a seating capacity of up to 280, with plenty of open space to hang out if you don’t have a seat.
Amenities at Bally’s Atlantic City sportsbook
There are seven live betting teller spaces at the back of The Book. The teller area is small in relative proportion to the overall size of the book.
I do raise a concern that it could be chaotic getting to the window at The Book during peak sports betting times.
Large boards featuring odds and information are located directly above the teller windows, which are big enough to require you to stand 20-25 feet away to take in the entire view of information.
RATING: 3.5 stars
There are no self-service terminals at The Book.
This must be a Caesars thing as there aren’t any kiosks currently at the Harrah’s book either. At present, this may be the only blemish on this sportsbook’s resume. It’s simply unacceptable for a venue of this sprawling size to not have any self-betting options.
Apparently, there is a plan for kiosks at some point, pending approval.
Minimum Sportsbook Bet Amount
The live teller minimum is $5, which outside of the William Hill venues is the standard live teller minimum at Atlantic City sportsbooks.
While other books offer a lower bet minimum at their self-service kiosks, unfortunately, that’s not an option here.
RATING: 2.5 stars
The size of the screens at The Book are unmatched. No one else has larger screens, and if your game is on the screen, it’s an awesome experience.
There (currently) is a lack of smaller screen options, so there might be a challenge if you are not there to watch the Eagles, Jets or Giants play on any given NFL game day.
RATING: 4.5 stars
The 280-seat capacity is far and away the largest of any NJ sportsbook. A clear winner for Bally’s in this category.
RATING: 5 stars
The Book has five private fan caves available for reservation. These are fully enclosed behind a tinted door, with each space holding up to 24 people and each with individual TV screens.
Additionally, even the seats in the main viewing area can also be reserved online. In lieu of a “rental fee,” there is a food & drink minimum spending commitment required as part of the reservation.
For example, Sunday, Sept. 8, the main viewing seats required an individual food and beverage spend of $50. Going up the pricing ladder, the VIP minimum spends start at $150 and fan caves at $250.
Tying this together is an excellent, user-friendly reservation template on the Bally’s website, as shown below for the Sept. 22 NFL Sunday:
RATING: 5 stars
The Book makes it easy to reach the minimum spends for your reserved seats.
There is a seven-page food-and-drink menu for ordering. There’s also a self-service beer wall that has 16 different brews available to purchase.
RATING: 5 stars
Staffing/Customer Service Support
On my off-peak visit, there were four employees behind the teller’s counter, several security guards patrolling the venue, and housekeeping personnel in a constant motion tidying up the sportsbook.
There are also plenty of racks containing paper odds and futures sheets available to browse and choose from.
RATING: 5 stars
Parking and Accessibility
The self-parking fee of $25 is the highest in Atlantic City. It seems criminal to charge this amount and then have you walk through a littered garage space with a strong smell of urine. Yuck!!
RATING: 2 stars
The Wild Wild West space that now houses The Book is gigantic.
As such, there are some newly added arcade games including air hockey, shuffleboard, and pool tables. Additionally, there is capacity for 16 beer pong tables all adjacent to the sportsbook space.
Beyond the options at Bally’s, the prime location of the property provides easy access to the Boardwalk and other casinos and attractions.
RATING: 5 stars
My football bet at Bally’s sportsbook:
As part of every sportsbook visit, I am placing a football-related wager for the upcoming season.
Trying to feel out who will be the right plays for the Week 1 of the NFL, I placed a small four-team moneyline parlay for $5 that would pay 4-1 if I’m right about the Chiefs, Seahawks, Vikings, and Ravens all starting week 1 with a “W”:
As it turns out, I was right on all four picks and that $20.46 is now mine for the taking. That deserves a self high-five.
Overall Score: 4.1 stars
If you are in Atlantic City, The Book at Bally’s is a definite must-visit, as this place is truly spectacular. From its mega-screen sizes to its plush, high-end seating to an extensive menu of food and drinks, there is something for every sports fan and sports bettor to see and appreciate.
While the Bally’s parking fees are excessive, it’s pretty much the cost of accessing most of the Atlantic City casinos. The only credible knock on The Book are the current lack of self-serve kiosks.
Some kiosks are on the way and they’ll absolutely be needed to provide support for the proportionately small live teller area. Hey, Caesars, how about installing a self-betting kiosk in each private fan cave area? That would be a great touch.
It should be a great NFL season and there should definitely be some exciting moments to experience at the Bally’s sportsbook this fall.