NJ bettors have been waiting for years for the opportunity to be able to bet on individual sporting events legally, and it’s finally here.
As we get closer to the start of the football season, more will launch into the NJ sports betting market, both online and in the casino.
Introduction to the Borgata Sportsbook
Let’s turn our attention to the Borgata — the only place in town taking both sports and horse action now.
On Thursday, June 14, the room at this Atlantic City casino that formerly served as the Race Book officially opened for business under its new name — the Borgata Race & Sports Book.
Congratulations to the Borgata for making sure that NJ sports bettors wouldn’t have to wait a day longer than necessary by becoming the first Atlantic City casino to offer sports betting.
How Borgata got to be first
It only took three days after Governor Murphy signed the bill allowing sports betting at NJ casinos and racetracks into law for the Borgata Race & Sports Book to be up and running. It is to this forward-thinking casino’s credit that in anticipation of this huge game changer for Atlantic City, it started preparing months in advance.
The Borgata also had a big advantage over the other Atlantic City casinos, as it was the only one with a still-operating racebook. Also, as part of MGM Resorts, it was able to fall back on its parent company’s considerable sportsbook operating experience as a model.
Accordingly, as soon as New Jersey got the legal go-ahead, converting and expanding its existing book into the Race & Sports Book was a quick and seamless process.
Where to find the Borgata Race & Sports Book
The Borgata Race & Sports Book is conveniently located and very easy to find. In fact, it’s very hard to miss since it’s only steps away from the jitney entrance to the casino. The poker room and escalator and elevator to the Marketplace are also very close.
The main casino floor is also easily accessible, though a bit more of a walk depending on where you want to go.
Hours of operation
The Borgata Race & Sports Book is open daily. The current opening time is 11 a.m. and the closing time is listed as 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday. However, these hours are subject to change, and betting times could be expanded as the schedule and customer demand dictate.
What you can do at the Borgata Race & Sports Book
If you have visited the Borgata before to place horse bets, you will find yourself in familiar surroundings. In fact, the new Sports & Race Book is an expanded version of the exact same room. Now you can pick from a wide range of both games and horse races to bet and then watch them live and do it all in one convenient place.
There is ample seating, too, so, if you wish, you can make a whole day or night of it. If you find yourself with any downtime, it will pass quickly, and you can put it to great use studying the board and doing the handicapping for the bets you will be making later.
Or, if you prefer, grab a bite to eat or play in the casino or poker room for a while, then return to the Borgata Race & Sports Book just in time to watch the game or race you bet on.
If the game or race is taking place in another part of the country, or even another part of the world, no problem. You might not be able to watch it at home, but as long as it’s an event you can bet on at the Borgata, you can watch it at the Borgata! And even if you could watch somewhere else, why would you want to when you can enjoy all the excitement of seeing all the action close-up on a large flat screen TV, in the company of other avid sports bettors on the same event?
Best of all, if you win, at the Borgata Race & Sports Book, there’s no waiting to collect. You can cash your winning tickets immediately!
What’s to like and what’s not to like at the Borgata Sportsbook
What’s great about it
Apart from going down in history as the first place to place a sports bet legally in Atlantic City (not first in New Jersey because Monmouth Park also started taking sports bets June 14), the Borgata Race & Sports Book offers many other great features.
Space and comfort
For starters, of the current list of Atlantic City sportsbooks so far, it is by far the biggest and best.
It rates an A+ from me, not only in terms of the tremendous variety of bets open to you but also in regard to ample seating, a large number of TVs showing different sports programming, quick, efficient service at the betting window, and overall comfort level.
Informative handicapping aids
Another feature I liked, which Ocean Resort Casino does not offer, is a separate sheet with all kinds of helpful stats for baseball bettors. I imagine that during the football and basketball seasons, the Borgata will be offering comprehensive stat sheets for those sports as well.
Serious bettors will find this sort of information a most valuable handicapping tool, so the Borgata is being very generous offering it for free.
The only place in town to bet horses
At one time, several Atlantic City casinos took horse bets, but in 2014, with the lone exception of the Borgata, they all closed. As of this writing, Borgata is still the only place in town taking horse bets.
Lots of time to cash your winning tickets
If you’re in town for the race or sporting event you bet on and you’re a winner, great. As soon as the results are official, you can cash your ticket! Otherwise, no worries. You have up to six months to collect your winnings.
Borgata Race & Sports Book players earn comp dollars at the rate of 1 percent of their bets. To be assured of earning all of the comps you have coming to you, present your M life rewards card at the betting window prior to making your wagers every time.
More improvements expected
In all fairness, the William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino, in its race against the clock to open together with the casino itself on June 28, did not have time to fully prepare. Down the road, we are being promised a “best of class” 7,500 square foot facility, but for now, it doesn’t even come close.
The Borgata is also promising significant “enhancements.” Although the casino hasn’t been forthcoming about either what those enhancements will be or when to expect them, this much is reasonably certain.
As a member of the large MGM Resorts family of casinos, the Borgata Race & Sports Book will be able to draw on the experience and expertise of its parent company in operating many sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Therefore, if you like what the facility has to offer now, you will probably love what it will have to offer once the enhancements are completed.
What could be better
There is very little not to like at this sports betting facility. In fact, anyone visiting should be thrilled with all it has to offer. But I would be remiss not to mention two ways it can be better.
One thing that is completely missing but definitely needed is food. Particularly if one is going to spend the better part of the afternoon or evening betting and watching sports, and probably downing a few beers, too, food is a must.
Currently, the most convenient option is the Marketplace, which is close by, but still entails leaving the sports betting area and going downstairs. Being able to purchase food right on the premises would be a big improvement.
Improve customer service
I was also expecting customer service to be a lot better than the lack thereof that I experienced.
Naturally, when I visited for the first time on opening day, I had lots of questions, but unfortunately was unable to get answers to most of them from any of the clerks. Instead, I was given the name of someone in public relations to contact via phone and email. I did, and no response was forthcoming.
For example, here are some of the things I was curious about — and still am — as I am sure many of you are, too.
- Smallest and largest amount you can bet on the various sports and types of wagers within a sport
- How many people placed a bet at the facility on opening day?
- Largest single bet so far
- Is cash the only way to place a bet, or can funds be used from a player’s Borgata online account?
- What kinds of special promotions or other incentives, if any, will the Borgata Race & Sports Book be offering to draw more people to the room?
- During football and basketball season, will players have the option to bet on parlays and teasers? What about bets for games already in progress, like the second half of a football game?
- Are there any sports or teams that can be bet on in Las Vegas that the Borgata Race & Sports Book cannot accept or any other restrictions on types of wagers that customers should know about?
- When will Borgata players be able to place online sports bets?
- Are there any plans to offer not just drinks, but also food, on the premises?
- What other kinds of enhancements is the casino planning for its sportsbook and how soon are they expected?
I guess in due time we’ll get the answers to many of these questions. Until then we’ll just have to wait and see.
Borgata Sportsbook FAQs
What can you bet on at the Borgata Race & Sports Book?
The specific sports you can bet on vary with the season but generally line up with the following sports:
All of these sports can be bet at the Borgata, as can special events such as the World Cup, important boxing matches, and major tennis tournaments such as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Another option — and you don’t even have to wait for the season to start — is to bet on the winner of next year’s NFL, NBA, and NHL titles. For example, Julius Erving, who was invited to place the very first sports bet at the Borgata, got the ball rolling June 14 with a $5 bet on the Eagles to repeat as Super Bowl champ at 8-1.
You read right: All he bet was $5. However, NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney, who was next in line, bet $200 on the Green Bay Packers (at 10-1) to win the next Super Bowl.
In other words, bets of all sizes are welcome. So whether you’re a beginner just looking to have a few bucks riding on your favorite team or you wish to make a much more substantial wager, the Borgata Race & Sports Book is ready when you are to take your action.
How many games can you watch at one time?
All of the sports events that you can bet on at the Borgata you can also watch. That makes a visit to this sportsbook almost as exciting as being at the stadium or arena where the game is being played, and probably with a much better view of the action.
Between the video wall and bar area, I counted a total of no less than 24 screens, on which different games and races in progress were displayed. Four of the screens are huge.
The room is perfect for anyone who has action on multiple games and/or races and would like to watch all of them.
Can you bet on horses?
Not only can you bet on horses running at different tracks all over the country and watch the simulcasts — until another Atlantic City offers the same option, this is the only place in Atlantic City where you can!
How do you place a bet at the Borgata Race & Sports Book?
As of this writing, you can place your horse bets either at the window or at specially designated kiosks. However, all sports bets must be made in cash at the window.
Separate windows are clearly labeled either “Race” or “Sports.” This is good thinking on the casino’s part since it will allow the many players who just want to bet one or the other to be served more efficiently. When I visited on opening day, only three windows were open for sports bets, but when I returned two days later, on Saturday, a fourth window was open.
The number will no doubt increase to sufficiently more as soon as football season starts to accommodate the much larger crowds. Meanwhile, even with just a few windows open, the lines are short and fast moving.
Can you also bet sports online?
Online sports betting is not an option yet but should be soon. We will keep you posted on NJ gambling websites as soon as we know more.
Borgata Race & Sports Book amenities
The Borgata Race & Sports Book is completely non-smoking. The room can seat up to 100 people, and each seat has its own table and flat screen monitor. Or, if you prefer, you can watch multiple games simultaneously on the larger screens on the video wall or at the bar.
The layout is very nice, with plenty of space for those who don’t want to just bet and run. Sports bettors who prefer hanging out and enjoying the action for a few hours can do so in comfort.
Reviewed by Barbara Nathan