ATLANTIC CITY — With the opening of a fourth sports book and the expected launch of mobile sports wagering by week’s end, the city’s casinos are primed for NFL and NCAA football action.

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City joined Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Ocean Resort Casino and Bally’s Atlantic City on Wednesday in offering New Jersey’s newest gaming amenity when it opened its sports book. Resorts Casino Hotel and DraftKings on Wednesday received approval to become the first companies to offer online and mobile sports betting in New Jersey. Golden Nugget Atlantic City has previously said it will offer sports wagering by the start of the regular NFL season, which kicks off Sept. 6 when the Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University, cited recent polling conducted by Gallup that underscores the opportunity Atlantic City sports books may have with the approaching professional and collegiate football seasons. According to the poll results, 37 percent of Americans consider football their favorite sport, followed by basketball (11 percent) and baseball (9 percent).

“Atlantic City casinos are keen to tap into the popularity of the sport to attract new consumers and build brand loyalty and a solid customer base for their new sports books,” Pandit said.

As for the revenue potential football presents for Atlantic City casinos, Pandit pointed to 2017 gaming figures provided by the University of Las Vegas Center for Gaming Research from Nevada sports books. In a year when $4.8 billion was wagered on sports in the state and sports books won $248.7 million, football represented more than 30 percent of the books’ earnings, taking in $76.8 million. Professional and collegiate football accounted for $1.7 billion of the total amount wagered, more than basketball ($1.4 billion) and baseball ($1.1 billion).

“As a more populous state, with a population of 9 million compared to the 3 million in Nevada, New Jersey has the potential to attract a significant audience for football and all types of sports wagering, and potentially surpassing Nevada for football handle and win,” Pandit said.

The next push is for more Atlantic City casinos to introduce online and mobile sports betting so gamblers can place wagers from the comfort of their homes on computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Resorts and DraftKings won a heated race to be first to market with mobile and online sports betting, which is widely seen as the most promising segment of the nascent sports betting market. The state Division of Gaming Enforcement gave approval to launch an invitation-only version of mobile sports betting, which will undergo several days of testing before becoming fully available. Requests for invitations to participate can be made at draftkings.com.

New Jersey regulators are considering mobile applications from several other companies and could soon approve additional online providers.

On Tuesday, MGM Resorts International President and CEO Jim Murren told reporters at a news conference announcing a first-of-its-kind gaming partnership with the NBA that the Las Vegas-based company’s Atlantic City property will launch mobile sports betting very soon.

“Closer to home here, of course we own Borgata, and at the end of this week, we’ll be taking mobile bets from Borgata and playMGM in New Jersey,” Murren said.

Mark Frissora, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment Corp., which operates Bally’s, Harrah’s and Caesars Atlantic City, said Monday the company plans to “quickly introduce” mobile and online sports betting in New Jersey.

David Rebuck, director of the state Division of Gaming Enforcement, said “the industry is struggling to get their best foot forward” when it comes to mobile and online sports betting but was optimistic the offering will be available by the start of the NFL’s regular season.

“Some will be ready, some won’t,” Rebuck said. “But we’ll definitely have a product in New Jersey that citizens can utilize for statewide access to mobile sports wagering.”

Sports betting in New Jersey is also available at Monmouth Park Racetrack — the first venue in the state to offer legal sports wagers — and Meadowlands Racetrack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7222 DDanzis@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressDanzis

Staff Writer

I cover Atlantic City government and the casino industry since joining The Press in early 2018. I formerly worked as a politics & government reporter for NJ Herald and received the First Amendment: Art Weissman Memorial NJPA Award two years in a row.

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