NJ Gaming News: AC Casinos Reopen; DraftKings Cooks Up Hot Dog Eating Odds

Written By Bill Gelman on July 2, 2020 - Last Updated on July 1, 2020

Bettors who took the under on Atlantic City casinos reopening before Fourth of July can officially cash in those tickets.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

Borgata customers, however, likely will be waiting for several more weeks. More on this later.

AC casinos reopening is by far the week’s biggest news. But there is much, much more in the way of headlines.

New Jersey racetracks are big winners, too, as fans can officially return this week.

And it may not be a numbers week, but the market-leading Golden Nugget is once again front and center with plans to turn its online gaming into a publicly traded company.

While the sports betting crowd is counting down the days for major pro sports to return, there is a unique wagering opportunity this weekend.

Here are the latest headlines making New Jersey gambling news this week.

The long-awaited reopening of most AC casinos

Rise and shine. It’s time to hit a jackpot! Atlantic City casinos started welcoming back guests at 6 a.m. today.

The reopening plans are several months in the making.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released an extensive list of rules that all nine casinos must follow.

And the casinos were forced to call an audible earlier this week when Gov. Phil Murphy decided to pull the plug on the July 2 scheduled restart of indoor dining.

Eight of the nine Atlantic City casinos are still moving forward. Borgata will remain closed until some of the restrictions are lifted. The MGM-owned property will be missing out on a significant amount of summer business.

As far as the reasoning behind the decision, here is the company’s statement:

For those making the trip to AC this weekend, there are plenty of casino dining options available. Just be prepared to eat or drink on the Boardwalk. And bring your face masks.

High hopes as Ocean Casino welcomes back guests today

Ocean Casino Resort is one of the five casinos reopening on Thursday. And as part of the reopening festivities, CEO Terry Glebocki welcomed back gamblers:

But getting ready for today has required several months of planning and training. It even included a crash course in personal protective equipment (PPE).

Glebocki spoke about the challenges every property, not just Ocean, faces. Here is a small snippet from PlayNJ’s exclusive interview:

“Certainly, we spend a bunch of time putting different models out there as to what we think it could be, but your guess is as good as mine. What we’ve seen in the past, though, is Atlantic City has always been very resilient, so we are very optimistic here. Ocean had a ton of momentum going into the closure. We had eight months of double-digit year-over-year growth.

“We were making money, and we were beating our budget for this year. This just stopped us in our tracks, as it did everybody, so it’s our goal to get back that momentum.”

Fans return to Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park

The wait is finally over as of today for NJ racetracks, too. The gates at Meadowlands Racetrack and Monmouth Park are open for fans. Friday and Saturday night harness racing at the Big M is included.

It comes at a perfect time for Monmouth, as the racetrack is opening its 75th season of racing Friday night. Like at the casinos, there is a 25% capacity limit. The facility unlocked its doors at 11 a.m.

This is good news for NJ sports betting fans, too, as wagering windows at the William Hill Sports Book are taking bets again.

Over at the Meadowlands, FanDuel Sportsbook is resuming operations as well.

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Golden Nugget Online joining Nasdaq exchange

Golden Nugget Online Casino is the market-leading NJ online casino app.

This week, Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) made national headlines by announcing plans to become a publicly traded company. Landcadia Holdings II, Inc. (LCA) entered into a purchase agreement to acquire GNOG from owner Tilman Fertitta.

The company’s future is looking extremely promising. For one, it has obtained market access, subject to regulatory approval, in Pennsylvania and Michigan. The pending launch in both states could take place early next year.

GNOG will have an approximate market value of $745 million, or what amounts to six times the company’s estimated 2021 revenue ($122 million).

On the board at NJ sportsbooks

The DGE is once again showing flexibility by allowing sportsbook operators to offer odds on the Nathan’s Annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.

And yesterday, DraftKings Sportsbook jumped at the opportunity by posting wagers on its NJ sports betting app.

No surprise, defending champion Joey Chestnut is the heavy favorite. His odds to win are at -1000 as of this morning. And for good reason. Chestnut is chasing his 13th title on Saturday.

Bettors also have the option of backing one of the underdogs, as in the field. The odds of any other participant winning is +550.

On the women’s side, Miki Sudo is the one to watch, as she holds six straight titles. The odds of her winning another were at -835 as of this morning. Any other participant is +500.

But if wagering on who can eat the most hot dogs is too wacky for your tastes, there are plenty of other options.

The PGA Tour resumes today with the Rocket Mortgage Classic, still without Tiger Woods. DraftKings has Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau as the favorites at +600. Of course, these lines will shift throughout the weekend.

And let’s not forget that the Philadelphia Phillies are back at Citizens Bank Park. They are practicing, getting ready for the 60-game regular season. It means the World Series futures market is open.

Their odds to win it all at FanDuel Sportsbook are +2500.

So with most Atlantic City casinos reopened, fans returning to NJ racetracks and pro sports slowly getting back to the new normal, there are exciting days ahead.

Photo by Seth Wenig / The Associated Press

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Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and now NJ sports betting and online gambling.

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