NJ Gaming News: Kentucky Derby Field Is Set; Indoor Dining Returns To Atlantic City

Posted By Bill Gelman on September 3, 2020 - Last Updated on October 26, 2020

The Kentucky Derby is taking place Saturday. Yes, for the first and likely only time in its 146-year history, the “Run for the Roses” is taking place Labor Day weekend without fans. Save the hats for 2021.

This is the latest example of how the global pandemic has thrown the 2020 sports calendar completely out of whack.

Think about it. When was the last time the NBA and NHL playoffs took place in September?

More importantly, NFL betting season officially gets underway one week from today. It means the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets are back in the spotlight.

But the current NJ sports betting menu is just one of many hot topics. Atlantic City casino owners are pretty excited about indoor dining finally resuming this Friday. It comes two months after the gaming floors reopened.

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

Looking at the Kentucky Derby field

Few will argue that this year’s Kentucky Derby will be extremely strange.

Instead of being the first leg of the Triple Crown, it’s the second. And the wait to find out if one of the horses wins the Derby, Belmont Stakes and Preakness Stakes will be much, much longer. Then there is the other minor detail of fans missing from the stands.

But this is the new normal of the sports world.

Now it’s time to address the biggest question heading into Saturday’s race: Who is the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby?

Tiz the Law, the No. 17 horse, is the heavy favorite at 3-5. The horse won the Belmont Stakes way back on June 20.

Here is a look at the entire field:

In the Garden State, the way to bet on horses in NJ using an app is via 4NJBets, a TVG online betting site.

And should Tiz The Law end up winning, the Preakness, the final leg of the Triple Crown, is Oct. 3. And it will also have no fans.

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Atlantic City casinos ready for indoor dining

Business is about to pick up at Atlantic City casinos, thanks to the long-awaited return of indoor dining.

Starting Sept. 4 — that’s tomorrow — casino restaurants can operate at 25% capacity. As expected, all nine properties have been pretty busy putting together their respective indoor dining plans.

Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City, shared his thoughts on the big news earlier this week:

“We are very pleased to resume indoor dining this Friday, allowing us to bring valued team members back to work. We have seen tremendous success with our outdoor dining venues, although weather variables have been a real challenge. Opening indoor dining brings back a key amenity that our guests know, love and deserve.”

Finally, Freehold Raceway gets a sportsbook

We’ve been wondering for a while about when Freehold Raceway would get into the NJ sports betting game. Play NJ is happy to report that we finally have an answer.

And it’s in time for the 2020 NFL betting season, too. The Parx-branded Freehold sportsbook will be open for wagering beginning Sept. 9. As of this writing, operating hours, number of betting windows and kiosks had not been announced.

Actually, Pennsylvania-based Parx Casino sent an email to customers earlier this week with the following details:

“Come place all your race bets for Kentucky Derby and all racing action. Then, starting 9/9, you can also place your bets on pro and college football, basketball and hockey playoffs, baseball and so much more!”

Freehold is a joint venture between Greenwood Racing and Penn National Gaming. Greenwood also owns Parx.

More importantly, this opens the door for three additional skins to launch in the Garden State. We know one is going to be the Parx sports betting app. And it seems highly likely that the Barstool Sportsbook app will eventually follow. Penn National owns a 36% stake in Barstool Sports.

As far as the other open slot goes, your guess is as good as ours.

Eagles, Jets + NFL betting

The NFL season is almost here!

The Philadelphia Eagles open the 2020 season on Sept. 13 against the Washington Football Team. Yes, the Birds are a heavy favorite. But the bigger question is, what are the Eagles’ chances of winning the Super Bowl?

Depending on which NJ sportsbook app you look at, odds range from +2000 to +2500. In terms of the NFC, the line hovers around +1000 to +1200.

Over in the AFC, the New York Jets’ expectations aren’t high. Their Super Bowl odds range from +8000 to +12000.

OK, so the idea of the Jets making it to Super Bowl 55 in Tampa looks like a stretch. But let’s take it down a peg or two.

What are the Jets’ odds of making the playoffs?

At DraftKings Sportsbook, the yes is +365 and the no is -500. FanDuel Sportsbook has +430 for yes and -650 for no.

DraftKings has NFL Week 1 No-Brainer odds boost

Sticking with NFL betting, when a customer sees the Kansas City Chiefs as 101-point underdogs against the Houston Texans, the immediate reaction is that it has to be a mistake.

Nope. It’s the latest No-Brainer odds boost from DraftKings Sportsbook. Basically, it’s a can’t-lose deal.

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champions, which means they get the Thursday Night Football prime time slot to kick off the 2020 season on Sept. 10. And while the 101 points may seem like a totally random number, this is actually the NFL’s 101st season.

By the way, bettors also have the option of taking the real line (Chiefs -9.5 points as of earlier today), but picking a side requires some serious analysis.

Even though the No-Brainer promo is limited to a $50 max bet, how can you resist?

Election betting in New Jersey? Well, sort of

The 2020 presidential election is taking place Nov. 3. And in the US, wagering on whether President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden will win is still illegal.

And those rules aren’t going to change between now and Election Day. DraftKings, however, took an outside-the-box approach by offering customers a free-to-play Presidential Election pool. Since players aren’t putting up real money, it’s not considered gambling.

There is $100,000 in prizes up for grabs. All customers need to do is correctly predict the race via a series of questions, including who will win the election.

There are currently more than 120,000 entries nationwide.

On the board at NJ sportsbooks

The Philadelphia Flyers are once again facing a must-win situation tonight. The New York Islanders hold a 3-2 series advantage in the NHL’s Eastern Conference semifinal.

Fox Bet NJ has the line at Flyers +1.5 (-275). In terms of the moneyline, Philadelphia is +115, while New York is -125 (as of 11:30 a.m. EST).

Let’s not forget it wasn’t all that long ago that the Flyers were generating plenty of NHL betting buzz as one of the favorites to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. Back on Aug. 11, Fox Bet had them at +320 to win the Eastern Conference. That line is now +700, which makes them the biggest long shot of the three remaining teams.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are awaiting the winner of this series, come in at -162, while the Islanders sit at +215.

Switching gears to NBA betting, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets open the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals tonight. FanDuel Sportsbook has the Clippers at -1500, a heavy favorite, while Denver comes in at +790. As far as Game 1 goes, LA was a 9-point favorite as of this morning.

And this week’s rundown would not be complete without talking about the PGA Tour Championship starting Friday at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club.

Here is a look at the outright winner odds from FanDuel (as of  Thursday morning):

  • Dustin Johnson +185
  • Jon Rahm +280
  • Justin Thomas +550
  • Webb Simpson +1000
  • Collin Morikawa +1800
  • Rory McIlroy +2000
  • Bryson DeChambeau +2200
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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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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