As recently as May 2018, anyone who wanted to bet on their favorite sport would have been unable to do so anywhere in Atlantic City.
But thanks to the long-awaited repeal of PASPA and some quick action by NJ legislators and at least some of the Atlantic City casinos, how quickly your options have changed.
Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook joined the NJ sports betting market on July 30.
Bally’s Wild Wild West and Harrah’s sportsbooks were next to open
There were rumors that sportsbooks at Bally’s and Harrah’s would join the pack soon, including reports of big TVs being brought into the Wild Wild West casino, presumably for that purpose.
No longer a rumor, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the parent company for Bally’s, Harrah’s, and Caesars in Atlantic City, now has sportsbooks up and running at both Bally’s Wild Wild West and Harrah’s.
This review is about the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook.
About Bally’s Wild Wild West
Conveniently located in the center of the Boardwalk
Bally’s Atlantic City opened in 1979 as Atlantic City’s third casino hotel.
It is conveniently situated at the intersection of the Boardwalk and Park Place. The two closest casinos are Resorts to the north and Caesars to the south. Bally’s Wild Wild West, a non-hotel extension of Bally’s, opened in 1997. The different buildings of Bally’s and its Wild Wild West extension and Caesars are connected, so patrons who so desire can easily walk from one property to the other without even going outside.
A free Total Rewards shuttle bus will also whisk players presenting a Total Rewards card back and forth between Bally’s or Caesars and the other Atlantic City Total Rewards casino, Harrah’s, at frequent intervals.
What the casino offers
Atlantic City’s casinos, with a few exceptions — and Bally’s Wild Wild West is one of them — were mostly not designed with a particular theme in mind. However, the Wild Wild West, as the name implies, was introduced as a novelty casino intended to recreate the gambling experience of the old frontier.
It was and still is a place where casual lower stakes players looking for a fun night out will feel right at home. However, as part of a $3 million renovation in 2015, in order to attract more of the younger crowd, the casino has veered away somewhat from the Western theme, and weekend nights, especially, it takes on a raucous party atmosphere.
The mountain décor, animatronic miner, and some of the other features of the old wild west are gone, as is the buffet. However, the low denomination slots and table games, including $5 blackjack, $3 draft beer, $4 shots, and honky-tonk entertainment are still there.
Bally’s Wild Wild West also has a poker room. Cash games include 1-2 and 1-3 no-limit hold’em and 2-4-6 limit hold ’em. In addition, NL hold’em guaranteed tournaments are offered seven times per week. Every Sunday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon, there’s a turbo tournament, while regular tournaments take place Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The Friday and Saturday night $5,000 guaranteed tournaments are the biggest, often drawing over 100 participants.
While the poker room can be conveniently accessed from the Pacific Avenue entrance just before Caesars, oddly, it is situated all by itself, a long walk away from the rest of the casino, sportsbook, and the two casual eateries.
Besides the sportsbook, limited selection of casino games, and poker, here are the other amenities you can enjoy while visiting Bally’s Wild Wild West:
- Free entertainment, including live bands and DJs Friday and Saturday nights
- Buck Wild Arcade offering Pac Man and other arcade games 24/7
- Boardwalk Saloon
- Mountain Bar, including beer pong
- Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint
- Snack Shop
Introduction to the Bally’s Wild Wild West Sportsbook
Tie-in to Caesars in Las Vegas
According to Kevin Ortzman, Caesars Entertainment Regional President, one of the factors contributing to the company’s ability to get into the NJ sports betting market fairly quickly was Caesars’ considerable experience operating Las Vegas sportsbooks.
In fact, the sports betting operations at both Bally’s and Harrah’s in Atlantic City are run out of Las Vegas, and the betting lines also come out of Vegas.
Caesars Entertainment has also partnered with Scientific Games, whose in-house OpenBet technology will be used for both the on-site sportsbooks and online sports betting platforms for the various Atlantic City Caesars-owned casinos.
Like the other currently operating sportsbooks in Atlantic City, the one that opened July 30 at Bally’s Wild West is a temporary setup while an expanded permanent facility is still in the planning and construction stage. The goal, hopefully in time for the start of the September football season, is to offer an enhanced state-of-the-art sportsbook comparable to or better than the world-class sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Meanwhile, the Caesars Las Vegas connection and partnership with Scientific Games assure bettors at the Caesars-owned Atlantic City casinos not only that they are getting the right lines, but most importantly, that the sportsbook is being run professionally and efficiently.
July 30 opening
On Monday, July 30 at 11 a.m., the sportsbook at Bally’s Wild Wild West was officially open for business.
Scarlette and Michael Hedgepeth of North Carolina were invited to do the honors as the first bettor. Naturally, she was thrilled to be part of history in the making, but rather than pick a team playing that day, she placed a bet on the winner of the 2019 Super Bowl.
How appropriate it was that the team she picked and bet $100 on at 9-1 odds at the Wild Wild West Sportsbook was none other than the Dallas Cowboys!
Where to find the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook
One nice feature about this sportsbook is that you can access it a number of ways–from Bally’s main casino, from Caesars, or from the Wild Wild West casino itself.
However, in all cases, it’s a bit of a walk. The Wild Wild West extension of Bally’s wasn’t designed very well, with a lot of unused space and a very long corridor between the casino area and poker room. Now some of this space is finally being used for sports betting, but it’s still a long distance between the sports betting area and the other gambling areas on the premises.
Hours of operation
Current hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. These hours are subject to change and will be expanded as the schedule and player demand warrants.
What you can do at the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook
The second I stepped foot into the sports betting area, what I noticed immediately and truly impressed me was the ample comfortable seating. A bar stool may be fine for a short visit as well as for the younger crowd who are there mainly to socialize.
But for serious players who expect to hang around the better part of the afternoon or evening, especially if they are going to be handicapping the day’s program and betting and watching multiple games, having enough space to concentrate is a must. I am delighted to report that this sportsbook offers both types of seating.
Also, my feet were tired from all the walking to get to the sportsbook. So being able to plop down in a comfortable leather armchair with the day’s betting sheets instead of standing or sitting at a crowded bar was perfect. Each chair has a little tabletop on the right side which can be used for both handicapping and to have drinks and snacks while watching the action on TV. It’s like watching the games in your own living room, but better because you also have all the excitement and amenities of the casino at your fingertips.
I visited on a mid-weekday afternoon in August, so there wasn’t much happening but was told that the crowds really pick up on weekends. This makes sense, not only because there are a lot more games then, but on Friday and Saturday nights there is live entertainment in the casino, too.
If you get hungry, your current options (other than walking over to Bally’s or Caesars) are limited to Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint and the Snack Shop. As of now, you will have to get the food yourself, but if you wish, you can bring it back to the sportsbook. The same applies to drinks ordered at the bars.
However, according to a Total Rewards Customer Relations executive, the casino plans to offer sports bettors tableside service from either Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint or a new eatery in the near future.
Comp program for sports bettors
It is certainly reasonable for sports bettors who will be making frequent and sizable wagers to expect to receive comps or reward credits for their action just as they do for their casino play. Accordingly, I inquired at the betting windows what was being offered to bettors at Bally’s Wild Wild West.
However, other than being told that the rewards for sports bets and casino games would be combined under the same Total Rewards program, the details were somewhat fuzzy. At Bally’s, I was told that for every $10 bet, the player would get one reward credit, whereas at Harrah’s I was told that for every $10 bet, the player would get one tier credit.
I subsequently called Total Rewards Customer Relations to clarify the matter, and a supervisor there informed me that players will get one reward credit for every $10 bet on sports. Since 100 reward credits is worth $1 in comps, this would mean that a player would need to place $1,000 in sports bets just to earn a dollar comp.
In addition, according to the same source at Customer Relations, upon betting $50 on any given day, a player would receive a voucher for a free drink either at the sportsbook itself or at the bar. Players betting more than $50 would not receive additional vouchers.
I had assumed that sports bettors could order free drinks from the cocktail waitresses, like slots and table game players, but apparently, this is not the case.
I can understand the casino’s rationale in not wanting people who are not betting and only want to get drunk to be loitering at the sportsbook and possibly getting unruly. On the other hand, anyone who wants to can presumably purchase unlimited drinks at the bar and bring them to the betting area, which would have the same effect.
What’s to like and what’s not to like at Bally’s Wild Wild West Sportsbook
All of the sportsbooks in Atlantic City have some features that are great and others that are in need of improvement, and the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook is no exception.
What’s great about it
Summer opening gives the casino time to improve service before football season
Kudos to Caesars Entertainment for getting this sportsbook up and running fairly early.
Those casinos that have been dragging their feet, waiting till September or later to open, will be at a big disadvantage. By then many bettors will have already picked one or more sportsbooks that they like and might not feel the need to go elsewhere.
In addition, by being open to take action now under far less-crowded conditions than may be expected in September, possible problems can be identified and quickly rectified with little or no negative impact. That might not be the case for casinos starting from scratch during the peak betting season.
Benefit of affiliation with Caesars Las Vegas
As a Caesars Entertainment owned property, Bally’s Wild Wild West is able to take advantage of the expertise and experience of those running the world-class sportsbook at Caesars Las Vegas.
In addition, sports bettors here will be betting based on the same lines as those at the Caesars-owned properties in Las Vegas.
Convenience and comfort
The casino and sportsbook are very conveniently located at the center of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. That makes it in walking distance of or short driving distance of other Atlantic City casinos. However, the spacious layout and exceptionally comfortable seating make it so easy to settle in, many players won’t want to go anywhere else.
I counted no less than 30 large armchairs with table tops and a dozen more chairs at four long high-top tables situated in front of seven TVs, three of which had large screens. When the sportsbook is expanded to the adjacent area (where there is currently lots of empty space), there will, of course, be more seats and TVs.
Meanwhile, with all of the betting windows very close by — diagonally across from the sitting and viewing area — what’s not to like? You also have plenty of leeway in when you cash your winning tickets — anytime from as soon as the game is official to up to a year later. Sports betting doesn’t get any easier or more convenient than this!
Lots of betting options
Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook takes wagers on all major sports. In addition to betting on games being played the same day or week, players can make NFL, NBA, and NHL future bets, as well as bet major events in other sports. See the separate section on “What you can bet on at the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook” for additional details. Unfortunately, no bets are being taken on horses.
Link to Total Rewards program
Sports bettors at Bally’s Wild Wild West, Harrah’s Resort, and Caesars Atlantic City (when the sportsbook opens there), and their online affiliates, will be happy to know their play will not go unrecognized.
Play at all of these places counts toward earning Total Rewards credits. Total Rewards, like the name implies, is a comprehensive program that extends to all participating Caesars Entertainment casinos and their partners. Any rewards you earn from your sports bets at Bally’s Wild Wild West are combinable with and can be used like any other Total Rewards credits.
More improvements expected
Last, but not least, as good as this sportsbook is already, keep in mind that for now, it is just a temporary facility that is only going to get better. The location is not going to be changed, but it will be enlarged to offer enhanced services.
In addition to more betting windows, active players will be able to take advantage of tableside food service.
What could be better
Now that I have enumerated all the great features of the sportsbook at Bally’s Wild Wild West, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention those areas I feel could be better.
Lack of handicapping information
Now that sports betting is finally legal in New Jersey, it will attract many first time players with little practical knowledge about the various options open to them and how to bet intelligently. This should be especially true at a place like Bally’s Wild Wild West geared to young casual players. So I was disappointed to see no information provided to help a sports betting novice feel less like a fish out of water.
The Borgata and Ocean Resort Casino sportsbooks offer helpful handicapping aids, and Bally’s Wild Wild West would be doing its players a big service if they did the same.
More food options needed
Bally’s Wild Wild West is a small casino, so it is understandable that the food options are limited. However, players who will be spending extended time at a sportsbook are bound to get hungry. The casino needs to improve on its current food offerings.
Improve customer service
First-time visitors to the sportsbook are bound to have questions. I thought that the staff on hand could have been more knowledgeable and better prepared to give players the correct answer to the kinds of questions they are likely to ask.
Improve comp program
Any comp program is better than none, but quite frankly, the rate of $1 in comps for every $1,000 bet leaves a lot to be desired.
Also, requiring a player to bet $50 to get a free drink does not seem reasonable. I think any player who presents a betting ticket, even if only for $5, deserves service, with perhaps a reasonable limit on the number of drinks per day with tickets punched to keep track and prevent abuse.
Hopefully, the Total Rewards comp program for sports bettors will be revamped. Otherwise, I fear that many players will decide to take their business elsewhere.
Take bets on horses
At one time Bally’s did take bets on horses. Now that it has a sportsbook, it would be nice if the option to place racetracks bets, too, was restored. However, it wasn’t and there are no clear plans in the works to do so.
This leaves the Borgata as still the only place in town with a racebook.
What you can bet on at the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook
The sportsbook at Bally’s Wild Wild West is a full-service facility, so regardless of when you visit, you will always have plenty of options. Obviously, the specific sports you can bet on at any given time vary with the season as well as that day’s schedule.
My visit was on Tuesday, Aug. 7, so naturally, the choices were nowhere near what they would be on a Saturday or Sunday in September. At Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook, you can likely expect the following sports depending on the season:
There will also be many types of bets you can make, including futures, parlays, teasers, halftime bets, and more.
Since the lines are coming directly from Caesars in Las Vegas, suffice to say if you can make the bet there, you can make it at Bally’s Wild Wild West Casino in Atlantic City, too.
How many games can you watch at one time?
On my recent visit, I counted only seven flat screen TVs (although another report indicated eight) Either way, until the sports betting area is expanded and more TVs are brought in — which is expected to happen by the end of August at the latest — you might not be able to watch as many games as you would like. However, the view from the seating area is great, so for whatever games you do watch, you can catch all of the action.
Can you bet on horses?
As mentioned above, the Borgata Race & Sportsbook remains the only place in Atlantic City that is taking horse racing bets.
How do you place a bet at the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook?
As of this writing, in order to place a bet, you will need to stand in line at one of the open windows and give your bet to the clerk. At the time of my visit, there were only six windows open, but that was more than enough to handle the sparse midweek crowd. There will be many more open windows once activity picks up.
The minimum bet is $5. All bets must be made in cash. Have your Total Rewards card handy so you can get credit for your bet.
Can you also bet sports online?
Caesars expects to have online sports betting available to its players in the near future. Keep checking with NJ Gambling Websites for new and updated information.
Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook amenities
As mentioned, the special amenities at this sportsbook include plenty of comfortable seating, flat screen TVs and one free drink for those who bet $50 or more. While tableside food service is not yet available, the casino plans to offer it. Those who wish to smoke will have to do so in designated areas, as the rest of the sportsbook is nonsmoking.
Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook seems like an excellent choice for players who will be at the casino for a long stretch of time. Players also have the option to break up the day or evening and sample the free live entertainment on weekends and/or try one’s luck at slots, casino table games, or poker for one-stop varied gambling.
Reviewed by Barbara Nathan