This time last year, a lot of the Atlantic City sportsbooks were simple, temporary spaces carved out of the existing casino floor. For the inaugural football betting season, this sufficed as everything was new in New Jersey sports betting a year ago.
But all eight sportsbooks in the city soon built new and fancier betting facilities with the goal of being ready to go by the 2019-2020 NFL betting season. And there’s a good reason for that: Football is the most popular sport to bet on in the US. Harrah’s was one such sportsbook to get an upgrade earlier this summer.
I visited Atlantic City casinos earlier this month and had a chance to check out the new sportsbook at Harrah’s.
Initial impressions of The Book at Harrah’s
Address: 777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City 08401
Harrah’s opened in November 1980 around the time the Philadelphia Eagles were marching toward their first-ever Super Bowl appearance vs. the Oakland Raiders.
Full credit to the Harrah’s operation for keeping their property bright and fresh even as it approaches its 40th birthday. The parent company of Harrah’s is Caesars Entertainment, which certainly knows the ropes when it comes to sportsbooks.
In addition to Harrah’s in Atlantic City, Caesars just opened a new sportsbook at Bally’s, which I will also be reviewing at a later date.
The full-scale version of The Book at Harrah’s opened in May this year and is embedded in the footprint of the casino. The Book has not yet been added to the casino directional signs, so if you are not familiar with the landscape of the Harrah’s floor plan, you might need to ask a casino employee to point you in the right direction.
The Book has a nice size and scale (capacity of 296) with an “L” shape layout anchored by 50 “Vegas-style” leather seats (with adjustable tabletops) in the main viewing area. Directly behind these plush seats are 12 seats on a tabletop rail that includes USB charging ports and six high-top tables and chairs.
To the left of this main area are two fan caves that each hold up to 10 people with table service. Booth areas can be reserved in advance. These are not exactly “cave dwellings” as they are in the open space of The Book. Behind the fan caves are more high-top tables and chairs.
There is adequate TV coverage with three large screens located in the main viewing area and 10 screens overall in the book. It’s not “wall to wall” TV coverage by any means, but it does fit into the overall design of the space.
As mentioned, The Book is in the heart of the casino, but there is not an on-site or adjacent bar or restaurant. The Book does offer a full food and drink menu with the ability to order directly from your seat, either by phone or from the on-site attendant.
If you are not taking a jitney tour and want to drive and self-park at Harrah’s, parking will set you back $15 on weekends and $10 on weekdays, which is pretty much the standard AC parking fee.
The main viewing area dominates the overall L-shaped layout of The Book. If you aren’t able to score a seat in the big leather chairs or the seats directly behind them, there is plenty of space to stand and watch on the sides or behind the seating areas.
There is also ample space located near the live teller windows to stand and check out the live-action on a handful of TV screens above the windows. The live teller windows are a focal point as there currently is no self-serve kiosks located in The Book.
Amenities at Harrah’s Atlantic City sportsbook
There are four live teller terminals located at a spacious window area that is well-designed for the “busy” sports betting times.
RATING: 4 stars
There are no self-service terminals currently located in The Book. It’s less than ideal at peak times as a bettor might turn to (Caesar’s hopes) the Caesars Sportsbook app to place a bet, but just as easily use one of the other NJ sports betting apps to make their sports plays.
Minimum Sportsbook Bet Amount
The minimum wager at the teller window is $5, which outside of the William Hill New Jersey properties is the standard live teller minimum at AC sportsbooks.
While some other locations have kiosks that offer lower betting minimums, that’s not an option here.
RATING: 2.5 stars
The 10 TV screens in The Book are the fewest I’ve seen in a New Jersey sportsbook.
As some of these screens are located in the two fan cave sections, you may have trouble finding a screen carrying the Browns vs Titans game on Week 1 of the NFL season. The three screens located in the main viewing area are large format and crystal clear, but it’s just that you will find this size screen and more screens at virtually every other NJ sportsbook.
RATING: 3 stars
With a “fire marshal” maximum total capacity of 296, I counted about 100 seats. About half of the total are the high-end leather chairs that are the definitive “best seats in the house.”
RATING: 4 stars
Caesars is stepping forward and offering reserved seating at both of their sports betting properties.
While the reservation options at Harrah’s are limited currently to the two fan cave sections, it’s a step in the right direction. The reservations can be made online or via phone. It’s not clear if there is an associated cost either in the form of a standard fee or a food/beverage minimum spend involved for the fan cave areas.
Perhaps Caesars could build in some reservation options for a limited number of the large stadium seats at Harrah’s each week for NCAA football and NFL season.
RATING: 4 stars
The AC Burger Bar has a great food and drink menu for those that are betting and watching the games at Harrah’s.
While some may like the option of a nearby food court or bar/lounge area, there is a lot to be said for not having to leave your seat and miss any game action in order to track down food and drink.
RATING: 4.5 stars
Staffing/Customer Service Support
On the day of my off-peak time visit, The Book had a reasonable amount of staffing at the teller window, security patrol, as well as a customer service rep to take food and drink orders.
Also, the Harrah’s team had fully stocked all of the daily lines and futures price sheets that were easily accessible.
RATING: 4 stars
Parking and Accessibility
Harrah’s is one of three casinos located in the Marina District. Atlantic City does offer a jitney shuttle service that is relatively cheap ($2) and can get you to the other Marina casinos (Borgata, Golden Nugget) and all of the Boardwalk spots.
If you aren’t riding the AC jitneys, the self-parking fees for Harrah’s are $10 for weekdays and $15 weekends. The parking fees are in-line with most other AC casino parking fees.
RATING: 3.5 stars
Harrah’s has casino gaming action and restaurants/clubs located on-site.
As is the case with Borgata and Golden Nugget, once you’re at Harrah’s, there are no other casino options within easy walking distance. But there are plenty of on-site activities here at Harrah’s to keep you occupied.
RATING: 3.0 stars
My Harrah’s Sportsbook Football Bet
As part of every sportsbook visit, I am placing a football wager for the upcoming 2019 season.
Harrah’s has some interesting NFL player props currently on offer. I made a future bet that the Cardinals and NFL’s No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray will be turned loose by new coach Kliff Kingsbury and, barring injury, should start in every game with the chance to easily go OVER the posted 20.5 TD passes this year:
Overall Score: 3.6 stars
The Book at Harrah’s has some nice touches: great theatre-style seats, in-seat food and drink orders, and the option to pre-book a fan cave in advance.
But there are some gaps in their overall delivery, mainly the dearth of TV screens throughout the book, the lack of any self-service betting kiosks, and the limited availability of seats.
Don’t get me wrong; the décor and amenities in Harrah’s sportsbook are of high quality. It’s just that one expects to have more TV screen options and seats in a 3,800-square-foot venue that has a capacity for almost 300 people.
Photos courtesy Harrah’s Atlantic City