US Sports Betting

Tropicana Adds Atlantic City’s Seventh Sportsbook

On Thursday, the Tropicana became the seventh Atlantic City casino to open a sportsbook, taking its first bet in the morning. As has become the norm with legalized sports betting in the United States, the sportsbook is not actually run by the casino, but rather an established bookmaker. In this case, that bookmaker is William Hill.

Photo credit: Tropicana Twitter @TropicanaAC

Visitors to the Tropicana sportsbook may be a bit disappointed initially, as it has none of the trappings of the flashy, modern books like dozens of televisions and loads of seating. That is because right now, the setup is just temporary, across from Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar. Management feels there is enough around the sportsbook to keep patrons satisfied for now. But big plans are in the offing, as a 5,000-foot permanent facility will be built (that’s about twice as big as my house and I don’t have a small house!).

The Tropicana is now the seventh Atlantic City casino to house a sportsbook, following (in alphabetical order) Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Golden Nugget, Harrah’s Resort, Ocean Resort and Resorts Casino Hotel. Ocean Resort’s sportsbook is also operated by William Hill, as is the sportsbook at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey.

All of these sportsbooks are possible because the United States Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) in May. PASPA made sports betting illegal in U.S. except in four states – Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware – that were grandfathered in. Nevada, though, was the only one that had traditional, odds-based sports betting. For a number of years, New Jersey has wanted to legalize sports betting, even passing referendums to do so, but the professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) and the NCAA kept suing, citing PASPA. And the leagues kept winning. But last year, somehow, New Jersey got its case heard by the Supreme Court and this year PASPA was wiped out. Enter sports betting.

Place Your Bets

According to the Press of Atlantic City, the first bet placed at the Tropicana Atlantic City was made by 68-year old Victor Groynom, who placed a $20 bet on the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers and LeBron James beat the Denver Nuggets 121-114; the Nuggets were 2.5 point favorites, so whether he bet the money line or the spread, Groynom was a winner.

Groynom, though, said that he is a casino memorabilia collector and as such, he is not going to cash in the ticket, opting to frame it as a piece of gambling history.

That’s great, but my question to Mr. Groynom is: why didn’t you just bet a dollar, then?

“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,” William Hill’s vice president of marketing and public relations Michael Grodsky said.

Sports Betting Dominating Poker

Most of the Atlantic City casinos have jumped onto the sports betting train because they knew it was going to be popular. And they were right. Since the first sportsbook opened in June, total sports wagering revenue in New Jersey through September totaled $40.45 million. In September alone – the start of football season – sports betting revenue was $23.96 million ($14.52 million from the Atlantic City casinos, the rest from the state’s two racetracks).

Some of the sportsbooks also have web and mobile betting available to those in New Jersey, as well. And guess what? That’s going well, too. The first internet sportsbook opened in August and through September, $126.58 million in bets were placed, the vast majority of which was from last month.

In September, New Jersey internet sports betting generated $1.63 million in taxes for the state, with $2.04 million in taxes brought in year-to-date.

It is a stark contrast to New Jersey online poker. In September, the gross gaming revenue of the state’s online poker rooms was only $1.61 million. Sports betting produced more tax in the month that poker rooms produced revenue.

And this is why not every casino that has the opportunity decides to apply for an online poker license. While we all enjoy online poker, it is just not a significant money maker for a casino that could invest its resources elsewhere, namely online casino games – like blackjack and slots – and/or online sports betting.

The question, then, is why is online poker not as popular? I could probably write an entire article about it, but the gist is that the barriers to entry for players are higher for poker. Casino games and sports betting are easy for the casual player. Click a button to spin the reels, add cards up to 21, put a few bucks on red, place a bet on the Packers to win. It’s easy to understand and often seems as easy to win as it is to lose. Poker is difficult. Yeah, it’s easy to learn the rules and the basics of how to play, but it is tough to get into a game as a casual novice and feel comfortable, let alone win.

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