Borgata Is Bringing Physical Skill Based Gambling to New Jersey

Written By Steve Ruddock on February 16, 2015 - Last Updated on February 8, 2021

Last year the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement issued a clarion call to game developers with the announcement they would be licensing skill-based games (think Candy Crush or Words With Friends) that could then be introduced on casino floors in Atlantic City, or perhaps at one of New Jersey’s licensed online gaming websites.

The initiative was part of the DGE’s ongoing “New Jersey First” program, designed to reinvigorate and reinvent the state’s gaming industry. As part of the program the DGE created a new gaming category, specifically for skill-based casino games; a category that now seems to be even broader than first thought after a recent announcement by the Borgata Hotel and Casino.

The Borgata, with the blessing of the DGE, is taking the idea of skill-based contests a step further, as the jewel of Atlantic City’s casino industry will be hosting a physical, skill-based contest on March 21, 2015, according to the AP’s Wayne Parry.

The contest will be a timed free throw shooting contest that costs just $20 to enter. The winner will get $5,000 of the $10,000 prize-pool.

“For a $20 buy-in, contestants compete in 90-second rounds for the right to play in the final round-of-16 in a bracket format. The top four finishers will split $10,000, with the winner getting $5,000. A valid Borgata players’ club card is required to participate in the contest.”

“This is a first step, something we’ve never been able to do until now,” said Joe Lupo, the casino’s senior vice president. “A year from now, you’ll probably see a lot more of these skill-based tournaments or even games on the casino floor.”

If Lupo is right, you might be able to gamble with some other casino patron in Pop-A-Shot, pinball games, or even Skeeball. But first we have to see how the free throw shooting contest at Borgata goes.

The contest has already been mentioned by the Associated Press, poker outlets, and even Barstool Sports, where Smitty explains precisely why this contest will be a success.

How physical skill-based gambling can help AC

The Borgata’s planned event, shooting free throws, is sheer genius. Free throws is an activity that anyone can do well, man or woman, young or old, and a skill that doesn’t require a person to be a professional athlete to excel at – a lot of NBA players are terrible free throw shooters and I’ve played basketball in rec leagues with plenty of people who never miss a free throw.

Because of this, and because of the low price of entry, this event should have a very strong turnout. And those participants will all need to be registered in the Borgata’s Player Club – see where this is going?

Furthermore, as Lupo explained, the free throw shooting contest hosted by the Borgata is likely to be the beginning of a new marketing trend in Atlantic City.

Casinos up and down the Boardwalk could host similar contests (with larger and more attractive prize pools – a $100,000 prize pool with $50,000 going to the winner would likely draw hundreds of the best free throw shooters in the country to AC) that would appeal to specialists across the globe.

The people turning up to test their luck shooting free throws, playing Can Jam, Chip and Putt contests, or even throwing footballs through a tire, will need to stay somewhere, and will likely spend money gambling or on other casino amenities while in town – particularly the weekend warrior crowd.

The larger these prize-pools become the more value they will have for the host casino.

Skill-based games of this sort are an excellent way to expand your marketing base and a great reason for people to plan a trip to Atlantic City.

Are skill-based games the future?

On top of bringing new potential patrons to Atlantic City, New Jersey seems to be attempting to cash in on the rise of competitive video games and the increasing popularity of free-play apps and social games that reward skill.

As the technology has improved and with game developers becoming more sophisticated, people are moving away from classic games of chance such as slot machines, in favor of games where their decisions matter and their skills impact the outcome.

This would not only expand their customer base, but as stated in the New Jersey First press release from last year, it could lure companies in these industry to move to New Jersey and setup shop. As DGE head David Rebuck stated, “Bring your innovative skill-based games to New Jersey and we will work with you to get them approved quickly.”

If small startup companies did relocate to New Jersey it would bolster and diversify the gaming industry, as well as leading to new, high-tech, industries relocating to New Jersey, and new jobs for the Garden State.


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Steve Ruddock

Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.

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