For Northern New Jersey and tri-state NFL fans of the Jets and Giants, it’s been a hectic offseason.
In fact, the past two years have been filled with turmoil and change for both teams. The Jets have a new GM (Joe Douglas), head coach (Adam Gase), and prized free-agent running back (Le’Veon Bell).
Meanwhile, the Giants are still adjusting to second-year coach Pat Shurmur and second-year player, RB Saquon Barkley. Not to mention, they have to figure out how to manage 15-year veteran Eli Manning and No. 6 draft pick Daniel Jones in the quarterback role.
Training camp officially gets underway on July 24, but for NJ sports betting fans, now is the time to get into game shape for the 2019 season.
For many NJ books and bettors alike, this will be the first full season of NFL action. Most sportsbooks in New Jersey were launching temp books and ramping up operations in the second half of 2018 following the overturn of PASPA.
So, as the NFL season approaches, let’s take a closer look at the 10 sportsbooks that have set up shop in NJ, starting with the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands.
Initial impressions of FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands
Address: 1 Racetrack Drive, East Rutherford, 07073
FanDuel Sportsbook is located on the backside of the Meadowlands racetrack, adjacent to MetLife Stadium and part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford.
Taking exit 16W from the NJ Turnpike is just the first step in getting to the location. It’s a bit of a maze to wind past the football stadium then head toward the backside of the Meadowlands horse track, but Google Maps can help get you through the series of service roads that lead to FanDuel’s retail sportsbook.
There is a valet parking option as well as plenty of handicapped and free spaces available (as long as it’s not a MetLife event date; more on that later).
The FanDuel Sportsbook location was born from a renovation of the Meadowlands racetrack clubhouse, so each FanDuel piece has been remodeled from an existing space. There are common areas shared with live and simulcast horse-racing bettors.
The first people to greet you at the entrance are third-party security guards to wand you down before you can proceed into the facility. Slightly unnerving, but you will also see uniformed state troopers positioned at various points of the facility.
It begs the question, after seeing the security presence, should I feel safer or less safe? I will take the positive approach to think it’s great to have an armed state trooper on-site to escort me to my car after I cash a huge 15-team parlay.
FanDuel Sportsbook has three separate areas:
- Primary location (ground floor) is the largest space of the three areas. This houses the largest TV screens, the majority of the live and self-service tellers, a large bar area, and a restaurant.
- Auxiliary ground floor (location adjacent to horse-racing simulcast center) is a smaller “no-frills” space with full-service bar plus live and self-serve tellers.
- Upstairs location (second floor), which also includes horse-racing simulcasting interspersed with tellers for sports and horse racing. The seating areas overlook the large format TV screens of the primary sportsbook location on the ground floor.
Amenities at FanDuel Sportsbook
There are a combined 30 live tellers booths across the locations with 21 in the primary location, four in the auxiliary space and five upstairs.
RATING: 5 stars
FanDuel has an abundance of kiosks throughout the venue with 17 in the primary location, 14 in the auxiliary space and 17 upstairs. They also have two horse-racing, self-serve machines in the primary ground floor location.
RATING: 5 stars
Minimum sportsbook bet amount
While bettors on the FanDuel Sportsbook app can play parlays as low as a 10-cent base, there’s a $5 minimum for any teller or kiosk bet made at FanDuel’s retail location.
Also, as is custom with NJ retail sportsbooks, glasses and hats must be removed before making any wager with a live teller or at a kiosk.
RATING: 2.5 stars
There are 30+ large screens in the primary sportsbook area and 10 large screens in the auxiliary location showing current live sports.
The primary location also features a scrolling digital board with scores, stats, lines, and injury updates. The upstairs location has much smaller TV screens featuring a mix of sports and horse-racing feeds.
RATING: 5 stars
While the primary location is the largest of the three spaces, there isn’t an ideal ratio of seats to TV screens. There are 20+ seats around the bar, but otherwise, you will have to stand.
The Victory Restaurant (interior pictured below) has 40 tables, with seating for 120+.
There are TV screens within the space, but the configuration of the venue obstructs the view of the giant TV screens at the front of the sportsbook.
We think the auxiliary ground floor location (shown below) is the best place to grab a seat and watch sports.
Combined with the bar area, there are 50 seats. But every seat has an unobstructed view of the TV screens and odds boards.
The second level has a hodgepodge of 15 wooden tables with seating and 20+ seats that apparently were made just before Niatross won the Meadowlands Pace in 1980.
Also, unless you are seated up against the railing, you will have only a partial view of the giant screens on the ground floor.
RATING: 4 stars
Reserved seating is not available in any of the spaces or even at the Victory Sports Bar. There is a small “VIP area” cordoned off in the corner of the primary location, but no entry unless you are betting a total of $150,000 every 30 days.
It’s unclear if the VIP area can be reserved in advance.
Each of the three spaces at FanDuel Sportsbook Meadowlands has a full bar. All are “self-serve” with no waiter/waitress service. The aforementioned Victory Sports Bar in the primary location has a full menu and 40 tables of seating.
The ground floor concourse features a slew of stadium concessions (hot dogs, popcorn, pizza, etc), but any food purchased here can’t be brought into the primary location.
The auxiliary area does not offer any food options in the space, but you can bring your concourse food/drink purchase into the space. The upstairs has limited concession food options, but all can also be enjoyed at your table or chair.
RATING: 4 stars
Staffing/customer service support
FanDuel Meadowlands is well staffed with tellers, plus managers and supervisors. All are clearly identified by their name badge and FanDuel ID. There is no shortage of people around to assist. It’s interesting to note that there was not a single location set up or employee(s) engaged to push the FanDuel app signups or deposits.
RATING: 5 stars
Parking and accessibility
As the FanDuel Sportsbook is part of an existing complex, they are also beholden to the events that take place in and around the venue.
During Meadowlands horse-racing events, parking is free. While it might be harder to find a space, there’s no cost impact to the FanDuel sports bettor.
On Giants/Jets game days, the FanDuel sports bettor will need to pay the going rate for parking to access the sportsbook. A look at the 2019 calendar shows three “open” Sundays with no Jets or Giants game scheduled: Sept 22, Oct 27 and Nov 17.
On the other NFL game days, the combination of cost to park, size of crowds, and traffic in and out of the complex present significant challenges in making FanDuel a “go-to” venue to watch football.
RATING: 4 stars non-game days, 1 star NFL game days
If you are a sports bettor that likes to play the horses or vice versa, the FanDuel Meadowlands sportsbook is a great place to spend some time. The sports betting area shows sports and the horse racing simulcast area shows races, with very little overlap.
If you crave casino action, there is nothing available nearby and the closest casinos are both out of state. Resorts World in Jamaica, NY (28 miles) and the Wind Creek in Bethlehem, PA (85 miles).
And if you want to visit an Atlantic City casino, that’s 130 miles south of the Meadowlands.
RATING: 4 stars
My FanDuel football bet
Of course, when visiting the 10 sportsbooks in New Jersey, it makes sense to place a little football wager before the season begins.
Not playing as big of a stake, as say Gov. Phil Murphy, but here’s my future wager on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East at the FanDuel minimum of $5:
Overall score: 4.1 stars
FanDuel Sportsbook just celebrated its first birthday on July 14. The FanDuel Meadowlands location has done an outstanding job of remodeling and breathing new life into a once-moribund facility.
While there are some perceived drawbacks in that the sportsbook is not one contiguous, contained space, a $5 per bet minimum, and NFL game day parking and access.
But all told, FanDuel provides plenty of places and options to watch and bet on sports.