Will Tropicana AC Have A Sportsbook? William Hill Deal Signals Changes Are Afoot

Written By Grant Lucas on September 5, 2018

Legalized sports betting in New Jersey continues to expand and push forward.

Six Atlantic City casinos have debuted retail sportsbooks, and five mobile wagering products have launched with several others reportedly on the way.

Only three AC properties sit without NJ sports betting services. Yet of those three, two (Hard Rock Atlantic City and Caesars) have partnership deals in place to potentially bring in sports betting in the future.

Silent in the process, leading up to the repeal of PASPA and even during the nearly three months of legal NJ sports betting, has been Tropicana. Not even third-party partnerships have indicated that the property has a future in the industry.

Until now, as a recent partnership between William Hill US and Eldorado Resorts signals that a sportsbook could be on the way to Tropicana.

William Hill-Eldorado deal in brief

William Hill US, the American arm of the British sports betting giant, confirmed Wednesday that it was entering into a 25-year agreement with Eldorado Resorts as Eldorado’s “exclusive partner in the provision of digital and land-based sports betting services as well as online gaming.”

Eldorado takes on a 20 percent stake in William Hill US as well as $64 million while providing the betting company access to its properties for retail and online sports betting services.

Eldorado owns 21 properties in 13 states, including in four states (New Jersey, NevadaMississippi, and West Virginia) that have launched regulated wagering and another state (Pennsylvania) that has legislation in place but has yet to accept its first wagers. Its impending acquisition of Tropicana Entertainment would put it at 26 properties in 13 states.

William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock said:

“Partnering with Eldorado gives William Hill access to one of the largest and most attractive casino footprints with 23 million customers across multiple states,” William Hill CEO Philip Bowcock said in a release. “This partnership provides extensive cross sell and profit growth opportunities to both parties. Together we are positioned to capture the evolving US opportunity – starting with land-based sports betting, and extending to digital sports betting and, in some states, online gaming.”

William Hill already boasts NJ partnerships with Monmouth Park and Ocean Resort Casino, but a third property appears to be now in the works.

How it affects Tropicana

In April, Eldorado entered into an agreement to acquire Tropicana Entertainment Inc. with the transaction expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2018.

Per the release, once the acquisition is completed, William Hill will open sportsbooks at five properties in three states, including New Jersey, West Virginia, and Mississippi.

Among the properties included in the deal cuts through the fog (a bit) surrounding its sports betting future: Tropicana in Atlantic City.

Still not quite in the game

While surrounding casinos and competing properties have sprouted sportsbooks throughout the summer, Tropicana has remained tight-lipped about its intentions with the wagering industry.

A message to the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement directed questions about Tropicana’s sports betting status to the casino. Messages to the casino went unreturned. Still, James Leahy, a spokesman from Eldorado, cleared the air a tad on what the near future holds for Tropicana.

“From what I know,” Leahy said Wednesday, “the plan is for Tropicana to do a temporary lease with William Hill that will become part of the announced agreement following Tropicana’s acquisition by Eldorado. As to whether or not they’ve applied for a sports wagering license, that’s a question for current Tropicana management.”

While Tropicana’s sports betting intentions continue to be a bit of an enigma, the code has begun to be cracked. It appears a William Hill sportsbook is on its way to the Atlantic City casino. The only question remaining is when.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant now focuses his attention on the growing NJ online gambling and sports betting scene.

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