Friday the 13th of July was definitely not unlucky for Harrah’s and Bally’s in Atlantic City, as the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) authorized both properties to re-configure themselves to offer sports betting.
Both properties are owned by Caesars Entertainment and both are giving up a large chunk of their gaming floor to be re-designated as areas for a temporary sportsbook.
While NJ regulators were busy setting deadlines for casinos, Caesars got its ducks all lined up. The two properties will be joining the NJ sports betting market likely before the start of football season.
Harrah’s swaps out slot machines for sportsbook space
The DGE has approved Harrah’s plans to open a temporary sportsbook in the area of the casino known as Slot Zone C. Thirty slot machines will be removed, with four upright slot machines and stools added to make space for the sportsbook.
To compensate, 10 extra machines will be added to Slot Zone K, and six will be added to Slot Zone S. The net impact will be a reduction of only 11 slot machines leaving a total of 2,100 in the casino.
The current Satellite Total Rewards center will be modified to create temporary sportsbook wagering windows.
Harrah’s is planning a permanent sportsbook facility with construction estimated to start shortly after Labor Day, leading to a grand opening sometime in February 2019.
Bally’s adds 8,190 square feet for its sportsbook
Bally’s is managing to create its sportsbook area without shifting any slot machines. It is removing 4,542 square feet of dance area and adding 8,190 square feet to be used for sports betting.
Fans of Bally’s mechanical bull will find that it too has been shifted to make way for the anticipated influx of sports betting punters.
The sportsbook changes come alongside plans to build an enhanced poker room, which was granted approval in 2013. The combined change means Bally’s has been approved to expand its total gaming area to a maximum of 133,430 square feet.
A typical football field has an area of 57,600 square feet including end zones, so Bally’s will be offering more than two football fields worth of gaming space when the restructuring is completed.
DGE gives permission but sets conditions
The DGE permission for both properties comes along with strict sets of conditions, including making available to the DGE the new CCTV monitoring systems and submitting final blueprints to the DGE.
None of the conditions is particularly onerous. Indeed, conditions such as ensuring that alcoholic drinks are not served to anyone under the age of 21 is part and parcel of the casinos’ standard operating procedures.
A growing list of NJ sports betting plans
Bally’s and Harrah’s will join a growing list of properties in New Jersey that have sportsbooks or temporary ones.
Borgata and Monmouth Park took the Garden State’s first bets on June 14. Ocean Resort Casino opened two weeks ago with a temporary sportsbook while its state-of-the-art facility is under construction in the middle of the casino floor.
This weekend, the Fanduel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack launched its new sportsbook facility just in time to take bets on the soccer World Cup Final — won as expected by the favorites, France.
There are really only two world-famous gambling centers in the US: Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Under PASPA, Nevada had the advantage because it had a pre-existing sports betting regulatory system.
Now that Atlantic City casinos also offer sports betting, they can compete on a level playing field with their Las Vegas counterparts. After all, what happens in Vegas now also happens in Atlantic City.