Better Late Than Never: Tropicana AC Opens Its Retail Sportsbook

man running to catch bus

Tropicana Atlantic City opened its William Hill Sports Book at Tropicana Atlantic City to the public on Thursday, Oct. 25. The casino is now the ninth property in New Jersey and seventh in Atlantic City to accept brick and mortar wagering on sporting events.

Atlantic City resident Victor Groynom placed the first bet on Thursday morning. He wagered $20 on the new Lebron James-led Los Angeles Lakers to win their next game.

Regardless the outcome, Groynom says he has no plans to cash the ticket, even if it wins. Groynom, a self-described collector of casino memorabilia, told Press of AC:

“I’m going to frame this one.”

With that, sports betting got underway at Tropicana’s temporary location. The property is in the process of building a permanent sportsbook, but there’s no timeframe for its completion.

The temporary location is somewhat unusual for a sportsbook, in that it does not possess the ubiquitous wall of televisions and odds display screens. Instead, patrons must rely on Tropicana’s other food and bar locations to provide real-time monitoring of their wagers.

The casino opened this sportsbook in partnership with European sportsbook giant William Hill. The debut is the third for William Hill in New Jersey, but company management is, by no means, blase about the launch.

“It’s always exciting when a new sports book opens up somewhere, and this one is extra special with the location and the history of this building,” said Michael Grodsky, William Hill’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

Tropicana played sports betting close to the vest

Thursday’s launch ended what has been a rather perplexing chapter of New Jersey’s foray into sports betting. Whereas most other gaming properties in-state have been upfront about their desire to open a sportsbook, Tropicana and its corporate parent, Eldorado Resorts, have kept things close to the vest.

In fact, aside from its partnership with William Hill, the new Tropicana owner has not appeared terribly interested in sports betting at all. One of Eldorado’s very first actions was to fire the staff for the casino’s NJ online gambling site.

Beyond that, there have been few indications that the Trop would join the sports betting market anytime soon. As it stands, Thursday’s launch throws the casino into an already crowded field.

Sportsbook competition quickly heating up

Even though New Jersey sports betting is a new market, there are already signs that companies are gaining significant market share. So far, the nine books and eight online sportsbooks are splitting revenues of just over $40 million year-to-date.

The online portion of the market is marginally larger than the land-based side. For online sportsbooks, DraftKings Sportsbook is the dominant force and commands about two-thirds of the market.

For land-based sportsbooks, the FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands Racetrack reigns supreme, thanks to its prime location. The northern New Jersey sportsbook took in roughly $4.4 million in revenue in September 2018.

However, there is evidence that sports betting is accelerating in New Jersey, too. In September 2018 alone, Garden State sportsbooks held just under $24 million in revenue.

It’s up for debate if the William Hill Sports Book at Tropicana Atlantic City can grow as quickly as revenue is. But the casino is taking the better late than never approach and hoping for the best.

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Bart Shirley

About

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he's not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.