Super Bowl betting kicks off at A.C. casino sportsbooks

{child_byline}AVALON ZOPPO

Staff Writer

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ATLANTIC CITY — Huddled around a 10-page packet, Dave Talarico and Ronnie Vansent figured out their game plan for Super Bowl LIII.

Around them, giant television screens broadcast basketball, hockey and golf as about 100 people looked on three hours before kickoff in Resorts Hotel Casino’s sportsbook, a 5,000-square-foot room tucked inside the casino in partnership with DraftKings.

“You can even bet on the coin toss,” a man standing at an adjacent bar shouted to his friend.

It’s the first time sports betting is legal in New Jersey for a Super Bowl, and the energy was high. Last June, the state legalized sports betting after the Supreme Court overturned a federal law allowing it only in Nevada. Delaware, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia followed.

There are dozens of different betting options at the sportsbook, and the two friends debated which team will win before placing their wager at a walk-up window.

“This should’ve happened a long time ago,” said Talarico, of Linwood. His friend nodded in agreement.

New Jersey expects sports betting to bring in $25 million in tax revenue a year. Gov. Phil Murphy in October signed legislation to dedicate 1.25 percent of sports betting revenue to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for the “marketing and promotion” of Atlantic City.

In the five months after legalization, the state saw $4.15 million in sports betting tax revenues.

At the Borgata, football fans squeezed past each other in the casino’s packed, temporary sportsbook as speakers blared other games one hour ahead of the kickoff. Borgata turned the Super Bowl into its own event, with games and food lining one hall and a separate private party for special guests.

Marcus Glover, Borgata’s president and chief operating officer, said sports betting has brought visitors to Atlantic City that would have otherwise stayed at home on a Sunday evening.

To meet the demand, Borgata is opening another $11 million permanent sportsbook this summer. The casino’s current, 100-seat sportsbook was once dedicated solely to horse race betting, but sports betting was included after it was legalized.

“The vibrancy we have right now at a quarter to five on a Sunday is not the normal vibrancy we have on a normal Sunday,” Glover said. “And these people will go out and extend themselves to the rest of the casino.”

Inside, people lined the walls and flipped through a booklet of all the available bets, while others sat glued to individual flat-screen monitors set in front of each seat.

A number of people who came out Sunday may have made illicit sports bets in the past, or simply wagered among a few friends.

John Mankos, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, drives more than two hours every Super Bowl with a group to gamble at the slots. They would make bets on the game’s outcome among themselves, but they have never been to an official sportsbook.

“We always had our own little side bets,” he said. “But this is the first time for us.”

For first timers, it was the ability to gamble on nearly anything that brought the most shock. “Prop bets,” short for propositional bets, let people wager on events in the game that don’t affect the final results, such as which team will win the coin toss or what color the first Gatorade poured on the coach’s head will be.

Others traveling far distances don’t expect to have to do so in the near future.

Thomas Choy, of Long Island, New York, believes sports betting will be legal in his state next year. The New York Gaming Commission last month approved rules that would let private and Native-owned casinos take sports bets.

“It’s only a matter of time,” Choy said. “Once New York sees how successful this is in New Jersey, it’ll be there.”

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Contact: 609-272-7258 azoppo@pressofac.com Twitter @AvalonZoppo

Staff Writer

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