Borgata exterior

ATLANTIC CITY — The first match of the 2018 World Cup between the tournament’s host country, Russia, and Saudi Arabia starts at 11 a.m. Thursday.

At that exact same time, half a world away, the first legal sports wager at an Atlantic City casino will be placed.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa plans to take its first sport bet at 11 a.m. Thursday inside the Race & Sports Book, said Liza Costandino, director of communications for the casino.

The first wager will be placed by an unnamed “surprise guest,” according to Costandino.

The Race & Sports Book, formally the Racebook, features 100 seats, 40-inch color betting machines, 10 betting windows and a video wall. Costandino said at least three betting windows will be dedicated to sports wagers.

Gov. Phil Murphy will place the state’s first legal sports wager at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, Monmouth County. Former state Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, who sponsored legislation in 2012 and 2014 to enact legalized sports betting in New Jersey, said he will be at Monmouth Park as well.

Following the May 14 U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down a federal ban on sports betting, Borgata President Marcus Glover announced the casino hotel’s intention to begin taking bets “as soon as regulatory approvals are in place.” The casino also announced plans to construct a $7 million sports book facility, which will be in addition to the existing sports book on the property.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement has issued a set of emergency regulations for sports wagering at the state’s casinos and racetracks until final regulations are approved.

Experts at this week’s East Coast Gaming Conference in Atlantic City cautioned against unduly optimistic projections of sports betting revenue and tax money for states. The activity accounts for about 2 percent of Nevada casinos’ total winnings. In New Jersey, Moody’s has estimated sports betting could initially bring in $108 million, or about 4 percent of the state’s annual gambling revenue.

Other casinos in Atlantic City also are preparing to accept sports bets, although they are operating under different timelines.

Golden Nugget Atlantic City has said it plans to offer in-house and online sports betting by the start of the NFL season. To the north, the Meadowlands Racetrack has set the same deadline.

Ocean Resort Casino partnered with international sports book operator William Hill US to run its sports book when the doors open June 28, pending approval of its application for a casino license.

Resorts Casino Hotel struck a deal with fantasy-sports operator DraftKings for its online sports book, but no official plans for an in-house facility have been announced.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, also scheduled to open June 28, has declined repeated requests for comment on plans for a sports book. Hard Rock International has a stadium naming rights deal with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins that contains “certain restrictions,” Chairman Jim Allen said at a May casino license hearing, but the company has not elaborated.

Tropicana Atlantic City and the three properties owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp. — Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort — have not responded to repeated requests about plans for sports wagering.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Contact: 609-272-7222 Twitter @ACPressDanzis

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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