NJ Gaming News: Freehold Quietly Opens Sportsbook; AC Casinos Get Tax Relief

Written By Bill Gelman on October 1, 2020 - Last Updated on October 15, 2020

Here we are four weeks into the 2020 NFL season, and NJ sports betting is front and center.

No surprise there.

The TV commercials featuring sportsbook apps are becoming more frequent. The BetMGM commercial featuring Jamie Foxx is one of the newest ones.

In a move that sort of floated under the radar, Freehold Raceway held a soft opening of its retail sportsbook. There is much more on the horizon there.

And for those Garden State bettors out there stuck in a funk wagering on the winless Philadelphia Eagles, there are plenty of alternatives.

The NBA Finals, featuring LeBron James and Jimmy Butler, got underway last night.

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

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BetMGM Sportsbook commercial stars Jamie Foxx

Word is starting to spread about the new BetMGM ad campaign.

For those who haven’t seen or heard about it yet, the company landed Jamie Foxx, the Oscar-winning actor, to promote the BetMGM sportsbook product. The first commercial spot includes Foxx levitating above the famous Fountain of Bellagio.

Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

BetMGM continues to target a bigger NJ sports betting market share. Teaming up with a Hollywood star will certainly help build that brand recognition — or at least get more attention on social media.

Soft opening for Freehold Raceway retail sportsbook

Following a brief delay, Freehold Raceway customers can finally place their bets. But in this particular case, we are talking about sports betting, not horse betting. The Parx-branded retail sportsbook began its test run on Sept. 24.

There hasn’t been a ribbon-cutting event or ceremonial first bet, at least not yet.

But suffice it to say, the Garden State now has 11 retail sportsbooks. More importantly, three more skins can launch under the Freehold license.

The Monmouth County racetrack is a joint venture between Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming. The former is the parent company of Parx Casino in Pennsylvania.

So add the Parx Sportsbook app to the soon-to-launch list. The Parx Casino platform already operates under the Ocean Casino Resort license.

There’s a good possibility that Barstool Sportsbook will fill another one of the slots. Penn National owns a 36% stake in Barstool Sports. Plus, the app is already live in PA.

Basically, Freehold is just getting started with its NJ sports betting plans, albeit a bit late in the game.

Atlantic City casinos get tax relief

The road to recovery is still a very long one for Atlantic City casinos. After being closed for 100-plus days due to COVID-19, the gaming floors are still operating at 25% capacity.

The state has yet to provide any updates on when those limits will change. However, it’s looking like there is relief on the horizon.

The New Jersey Legislature voted in favor of providing temporary relief to the industry.

In last week’s vote, the General Assembly moved the bill (S2400/A4032) to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for his signature. The state Senate passed the bill back in June.

The bill allows for a reduction in taxes paid on gross gaming revenue. It also includes a monthly deduction against gross gaming revenue equal to the bonus and promo credits used by the casino’s customers.

Eagles odds taking a hit following 0-2-1 start

Few will argue that the Philadelphia Eagles are not playing up to expectations this season. Their current 0-2-1 record is all the proof that is needed.

The record includes Sunday’s 23-23 tie with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Eagles’ odds of winning their next game continues to be a hot topic, though. So is debating whether or not Carson Wentz is the Birds franchise quarterback.

The latter will be answered over the course of the 2020 season. But as far as winning goes, Philadelphia’s schedule is only getting tougher. It starts with a Sunday Night Football game against the San Francisco 49ers.

As of today, NJ sportsbooks apps have the Eagles getting about a touchdown. San Fran, the defending NFC champions, are extremely beat up right now.

Then again, so are the Eagles.

From an NJ sports betting perspective, the team has yet to cover the point spread this season.

And Philadelphia’s Super Bowl odds are even taking a hit as a result of their bad start.

FanDuel Sportsbook currently has the Eagles’ Super Bowl futures at +6500. The Arizona Cardinals (+3500), the Nick Foles-led Chicago Bears (+4100) and the Cleveland Browns — yes, those Cleveland Browns (+4400) — all have better chances at winning the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl 55.

DraftKings teams up with Eagles

Off the field, there is some breaking Philadelphia Eagles news. Earlier today, the team announced a new multiyear deal with DraftKings. The Boston-based company will be the official daily fantasy sports and sports betting partner of the Birds.

Here is what DraftKings is getting out of the partnership:

  • Exclusive naming rights to the DraftKings Field Club at Lincoln Financial Field   
  • DraftKings’ branding will be integrated throughout Eagles’ social media channels and digital assets
  • Eagles Stat Showdown, a new free-to-play game in which fans can win weekly prizes

Here is what Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer for DraftKings, had to say about the deal: 

“Philadelphia is home to some of the most passionate football fans, and we could not be more excited to join forces with the Eagles. Be it fans at home, on the DraftKings mobile app or inside Lincoln Financial Field, we look forward to introducing Eagles fans and DraftKings customers alike to an all-encompassing DraftKings experience.”

This deal is the second sports betting partnership that the Eagles have announced since the start of the NFL Season. The other is with Fox Bet, which includes a Fox Bet studio at the Linc.

On the board at NJ sportsbooks

Time to start talking about playoffs.

The oddity theme of 2020 continues with the NBA Finals and Major League Baseball playoffs taking place at the same time. Remember this date, as it will likely be a question on Jeopardy! one day.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the NBA odds.

The Los Angeles Lakers dominated last night’s Game 1 against the Miami Heat, 116-98. The latter lost center Bam Adebayo (shoulder strain) and point guard Goran Dragic (foot) to injuries.

LeBron James and company easily covered the 4.5-point spread.

Game 2 is taking place Friday night (9 p.m. tipoff). FanDuel Sportsbook had the Lakers as a 7.5-point favorite as of Thursday morning. The moneyline was -330 for LA and +265 for Miami. These odds could shift once the injury report is updated.

Bettors also have the option of wagering on how many games the series will go. And it doesn’t matter which team wins the series. Here are the options and corresponding odds:

  • Four games +134
  • Five games +200
  • Six games +420
  • Seven games +680

Switching gears to MLB, the new 16-team postseason format got underway Tuesday night with the best-of-three Wild Card round. As of this afternoon, the field is already down to 12 teams, as the New York YankeesTampa Bay Rays, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves have advanced to the divisional round.

Since the Wild Card round will be wrapping up by Friday night (in theory), there’s no need to analyze the betting lines for the games that may or may not be taking place.

Instead, here is the current World Series futures market from DraftKings Sportsbook:

  • Dodgers +275
  • Yankees +350
  • Rays +350
  • Braves +900
  • Astros +1000
  • Athletics +1400

So for 2020, and likely only 2020, the NFL doesn’t have the pro sports spotlight all to itself in the fall.

Photo by AP Photo/Wayne Parry
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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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