Wild Card Weekend, CFP Give Atlantic City Sportsbooks Boost

Written By David Danzis on January 12, 2021 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021

The first-ever six-game NFL Playoffs round was a weekend unlike any other for Atlantic City sportsbooks.

Follow it up with a highly anticipated college football championship on Monday and, overall, it was a decent three-day stretch for a city in desperate need of a win.

Despite capacity limits because of the coronavirus pandemic, Atlantic City’s brick-and-mortar sportsbooks were relatively busy as football fans and NJ sports betting customers gathered to watch the Wild Card games. 

Caesars + William Hill weigh in

Steve Callender, regional president for Caesars Entertainment Inc. and president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the NFL playoffs and the NCAA College Football Playoff championship helped drive people to the sportsbooks.

“Beverage sales did well and the games lent much-needed energy to our casino floors,” Callender told PlayNJ. “It was the best headcounts in sports we have seen this year.”

Caesars and William Hill NJ Sportsbook run four Atlantic City sportsbooks: Caesars, Harrah’s Resort, Ocean Casino Resort (not affiliated with Caesars Entertainment), and Tropicana.

“The expanded playoff format has been fantastic and sports bettors have responded at the windows, taking plenty of action on all six games,” said Michael Grodsky, vice president of marketing and public relations for William Hill, on Sunday morning.

Business booming at Borgata

The BetMGM Sportsbook & Bar at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was lively on Sunday afternoon for the game between the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

The 25% occupancy restriction reduced the total number of people allowed inside to 111. However, nearly every seat and table had been reserved for the early game.

“We’ve been able to sell out the current capacity,” Thomas Gable, director of race and sports for Borgata, said. “So, we’ve got the room full and we’re writing a lot of business, that’s the main thing for us.”

Gable said the book had more written for the matchup between the Titans and Ravens than any of the Saturday games. 

“Baltimore always draws a decent amount of money here, for whatever reason,” he said, adding that games featuring the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers also get a good deal of action. “Those teams, in particular, seem to resonate with customers.”

Boardwalk Steelers sighting

On the other side of town, Neil Costa was on the Boardwalk wearing a Steelers jersey in anticipation of Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns. Costa, 25, of Cherry Hill, had just placed a handful of bets at the DraftKings Sportsbook inside Resorts Casino Hotel.

“I’ve been waiting to do this for weeks,” he said about putting down some money on his favorite team and enjoying the atmosphere of Atlantic City’s sportsbooks during an NFL playoff game.

“I really only care about the Steelers winning, but I wouldn’t mind winning a little bit (of money), too.”

Spoiler: Steelers lost, 48-37. 

Browns’ win helps the sportsbooks

Cleveland’s upset of Pittsburgh was a win for the books. 

Before Sunday’s action, Grodsky said the operators needed all three underdogs to win. He said there was a “large amount of liability from open teasers and moneyline parlays,” from Saturday’s action.

“The biggest game of the weekend (and biggest decision for the sportsbook), as of right now, will be in the Cleveland vs Pittsburgh game,” he said. “We will definitely be rooting for the Browns tonight.”

Likewise, Gable smiled outside the BetMGM sportsbook in Borgata while politely saying, “We will not need the Steelers tonight.”


Photo by AP/Wayne Perry
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David Danzis

David Danzis is an award-winning journalist who has covered business, politics, government, education, and sports in New Jersey. Most recently, he wrote about Atlantic City casinos, online gaming, and sports betting for The Press of Atlantic City. David is a graduate of Rutgers University.

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