In the span of just over two months, NJ sports betting has become a crowded affair with eight sportsbooks and five online sports betting apps.
In addition, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, which owns three Atlantic City casino properties — Bally’s, Harrah’s, and Caesars — has big plans for sportsbooks in Atlantic City. Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook is already up and running, and a sportsbook at Caesars may be on the horizon, too.
While, as of this writing, Harrah’s own affiliated online casino HarrahsCasino.com does not offer sports betting, on Thursday, Sept. 6, a sportsbook platform was launched on sister site Caesars online casino. If you already play casino games on this site, great. You can now use it for sports betting, too! Try one of these top NJ sportsbooks.
Otherwise, now would be the perfect time to join. That way you have all the added convenience of sports betting from your computer or mobile device without having to travel anywhere.
Harrah’s opened its temporary sportsbook on Aug. 1, two days after Bally’s opened its own. Read on for more about Harrah’s sportsbook.
About Harrah’s Resort
Harrah’s Resort opened on Nov 22, 1980. It was the fifth casino hotel to open in Atlantic City, and at the time, the only casino property situated in the marina district rather than on the Boardwalk.
Harrah’s is one of three Atlantic City casino properties under the vast Caesars Entertainment Corporation umbrella, with the other two being Bally’s and Caesars. Like Bally’s and Caesars, Harrah’s participates in the Total Rewards program.
How to get to and from Harrah’s and other casinos
Currently, three of Atlantic City’s now nine casinos are in the marina district: Harrah’s, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and Golden Nugget Atlantic City. From a distance, the three marina casino properties may look very close to one another, but in reality, they are not.
The best option for players wishing to go back and forth from one to another is the No. 6 jitney. Unlike the No. 2 jitney which stops at all of the casinos, the No. 6 makes a continuous loop around the three marina casinos and does not go to the Boardwalk area at all. The No. 1 jitney, on the other hand, stops at all of the Boardwalk casinos, but does not go to the marina.
In addition, because Harrah’s Resort is a Total Rewards casino, it provides a free Total Rewards shuttle bus to transport Total Rewards cardholders wishing to go from Harrah’s to Bally’s or Caesars or vice versa. Service begins at 10 a.m. daily and continues at frequent intervals until late at night.
What the casino offers
Harrah’s Casino is home to more than 2,100 slots and more 180 table games. The immense and varied selection includes something for everyone from small stakes players to high rollers.
Harrah’s Atlantic City also has a poker room. Cash games include 2-4 limit (not the more frequently spread 2-4-6) along with 1-2 and sometimes 2-5 no limit hold‘em, while NL hold‘em tournaments are offered Sunday and Wednesday evenings. The tournament structure is the same as for the Friday and Saturday night tournaments at Bally’s, but the Harrah’s tournaments typically draw only about half as many players.
The Harrah’s poker room is very close not only to the showroom and several restaurants but also to the Total Rewards desk and temporary sportsbook.
Harrah’s Resort is aptly named, as it is far more than just a casino and hotel. Besides the sportsbook, poker, and casino games, guests can avail themselves of a wide range of other amenities, including all of the following
- The Pool and Pool After Dark
The heated pool at Harrah’s does double duty. It’s actually indoors but looks like it’s outdoors.
During the day and Sunday, Monday, and Thursday nights, it’s a place where hotel guests can come to swim and relax year round. But Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, it becomes the Pool After Dark, one of the hottest nightclubs in town. Guests can dance, play blackjack upstairs in the Loft overlooking in the pool, and even reserve a cabana or bungalow with VIP bottle service while world class DJs keep the party going till the wee hours of the morning.
- The Concert Venue
Compared to some of the other entertainment venues in Atlantic City, this is a small theater. Revues and other musical acts are scheduled there periodically.
It’s impossible to go hungry at a casino with as many different dining options as Harrah’s. For casual dining, your choices include AC Burger Company, Coastal Craft Kitchen & Bar, Oshi’s Modern Asian Kitchen, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood, Café Taza, the Food Court, lunch at the pool, and the Waterfront Buffet.
Those looking for a more upscale dining experience can select from any of these fine restaurants: Gordon Ramsay Steak, Martorano’s, or Veracruz.
- Bars and Lounges: #BarWithNoName (in the hotel lobby), Eden Lounge, and the X-Bar
- Red Door Spa
- Waterfront Shops
- Viking Cooking School: Not what you would expect to find in a casino at all, but what a novel idea. In addition to a retail store, it’s a place where you can actually take cooking classes.
Now that Harrah’s sportsbook is up and running, too, it is one more of a myriad of ways this complete resort in Atlantic City makes any time of year feel like a vacation.
Introduction to the Harrah’s Sportsbook
Tied to Caesars in Las Vegas
Caesars Entertainment not only owns and operates multiple casinos and sportsbooks in Las Vegas but is also the only company with multiple casinos in Atlantic City.
Therefore, getting at least temporary sports betting facilities up and running as soon as possible at Harrah’s and the other Caesars-owned Atlantic City properties was a priority.
According to Kevin Ortzman, Caesars Entertainment Regional President, an important factor in being able to achieve this goal was the ability to draw on Caesars’ considerable experience operating Las Vegas sportsbooks. In fact, the sports betting operations at both Harrah’s and Bally’s in Atlantic City are run out of Las Vegas, and the betting lines come from Las Vegas as well.
Caesars Entertainment has also partnered with Scientific Games. That firm’s in-house Onebet technology is being used for both the on-site Caesars’ owned sportsbooks and future online sports betting platforms.
Temporary sportsbook first, then a permanent space
On the one hand, it’s hard to imagine any other location for Harrah’s sportsbook more convenient and centrally located than the present one. But on the other hand, I do agree that the only way this sportsbook can truly be top of the line is in a bigger space. I also believe that the combination and partnership with Scientific Games can help Harrah’s achieve that goal.
In the meantime, bettors can feel comfortable in the knowledge that Harrah’s sportsbook is already a professionally and efficient
Aug. 1 opening day
On Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 11 a.m., Harrah’s sportsbook was officially open for betting.
The first bets were on the Yankees
Two days earlier Seven Stars players Scarlette and Michael Hedgepeth from North Carolina were invited to make the first wager at Bally’s Wild West. So, of course, it was only fitting for Harrah’s sportsbook to open with similar fanfare. This time Seven Star players Alan and Carol Kallman from Middlesex County, Monroe Township, NJ were invited to do the honors.
In both cases, the players decided on a future bet rather than a game being played that day. Whereas Scarlette Hedgepeth wagered $100 on the Dallas Cowboys at 9-1 odds to win the next Super Bowl, the Kallmans picked a team closer to home and bet $25 on the Yankees at 7-1 odds to win the 2018 World Series.
Apparently, Yankee fever was catching. Kevin Mills and Brian Duprey, who impersonate Elvis and Sinatra, respectively in Legends in Concert (playing at the Concert Venue at Harrah’s Resort through Sunday, September 2), bet $200 on the Yankees to beat the Orioles that day. (Unfortunately, for them, the Yankees lost. The Orioles beat them 7-5).
Hours of operation
Current hours of operation are 11 a.m. to midnight daily. These hours are subject to change and will be expanded based on schedule and player demand.
What you can do at Harrah’s sportsbook
The layout and design at Harrah’s sportsbook is virtually identical to what you will find at Bally’s Wild Wild West. This is no surprise since Caesars Entertainment is the parent company for both.
Apparently, Caesars Entertainment feels as I do that even if the initial sportsbook being offered is only temporary and major enhancements are expected, customer comfort still matters. And in this area, Harrah’s sportsbook truly excels.
Like the Race & Sports Book at the Borgata and the sportsbook at Bally’s Wild Wild West, but unlike the temporary facilities at Ocean Resort Casino, Golden Nugget, and Resorts, Harrah’s sportsbook was designed from the get-go with players’ comfort in mind.
Yes, you can stop by to socialize and watch the action from a bar stool if you so desire, but if you prefer to relax in a big easy chair like you would at home, it is yours for as long as you want it.
If you are a serious player, you need the extra space to do your handicapping with a minimum of distraction, and that’s exactly what Harrah’s sportsbook offers you. Each roomy black leather armchair even has a little tabletop on the right side to hold your snacks and drinks as well as place your betting sheets and other handicapping aids. The chairs are directly in front of large screen TVs, too, so you won’t miss any of the action.
Older players and anyone with a physical handicap will love these chairs. And another great perk is that whenever you get hungry or thirsty, there’s a waitress at your beck and call to take your order, so there’s no need to go anywhere else.
Once you settle in at this state-of-the-art sportsbook, expect to remain for the better part of the day or the evening. You won’t want to leave.
Comp program for sports bettors
If you wish, you can use your accumulated Total Rewards credits to pay for any food and beverages you order while at the sportsbook, but of course, if you are placing wagers, you’re expecting to be earning additional comps. You are, but not as much as I think is warranted.
Also, it took a lot of questioning of different people in my attempt to get a definitive answer as to how much one has to wager to get what sort of comp. The answer I got from the sportsbook was that for every $10 bet, a player would get 1 tier credit, which was inconsistent with the information given at Bally’s that for every $10 bet, a player would get 1 reward credit.
Then when I stopped at the Total Rewards desk attempting to clarify the matter, even the manager had no idea. One would think the staff should have been better informed, as this was a very reasonable and basic question.
Instead, I was told to call Total Rewards Customer Relations and speak to a supervisor.
I was then informed that the information I received at Bally’s is correct, that for every $10 bet in either of these sportsbooks (and presumably also Caesars when that one opens), players receive 1 reward credit. Since 100 reward credits are equal to $1 in comps, this means that in order to earn a dollar comp, you would need to place $1,000 in sports bets. By the way, reward credits earned at different Atlantic City Caesars owned sportsbooks are combined, so all of the bets do not necessarily have to be made at the same sportsbook.
In addition to earning reward credits for your sports bets, you can also receive free drinks. According to the same source at Customer Relations, players who bet $50 or more on any given day will receive a voucher for a free drink either at the sportsbook itself or at the bar. However, players betting more than $50 are not entitled to additional vouchers.
My assumption was that that sports bettors could order free drinks from the cocktail waitresses, like slots and table game players, but apparently, I was mistaken.
I don’t think this drink policy will sit well with players, and frankly, I am puzzled by it, too. On the one hand, it does make sense that the casino would not want people who are not betting and only want to get drunk to be loitering at the sportsbook.
If these non-bettors become very loud and unruly, those who are trying to handicap and enjoy the games could find their presence disruptive. On the other hand, anyone who so desires can still purchase unlimited drinks at the bar and bring them to the sports betting area.
What’s to like and what’s not to like at Harrah’s Sportsbook
Harrah’s sportsbook, like most of the other sportsbooks in Atlantic City, clearly has many features that are great, as well as a few others that could be better.
What’s great about it
Opened before busy football season
Caesars Entertainment is to be congratulated for not waiting until the last minute to get this sportsbook up and running. August isn’t ordinarily a big month for sports betting, but being open then is a good thing for the casinos and bettors alike. It brings in additional business for the casino at the same time that it is working on needed enhancements for when business picks up. It also gives sports bettors a chance to explore their options and see if a particular facility is a good fit for them.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for the stragglers that are waiting till September or later to open. They will face a huge disadvantage because by then many bettors will have already picked the places where they want to give their action and might not have any desire to switch.
Conversely, being open to take action earlier when conditions are not crowded, gives sportsbooks like Harrah’s a chance to see what is already working fine and what needs to be fixed. Appropriate changes and improvements can be put into place quickly with little negative impact, so by the time the big crowds show up, everything is running seamlessly. In contrast, sportsbooks that are starting from scratch when it is already peak season and still aren’t fully ready may not only have fewer customers to start with, but will have trouble keeping them.
Benefit of affiliation with Caesars Entertainment and Caesars Las Vegas
Only three of Atlantic City’s nine casinos — Harrah’s, Bally’s, and Caesar’s — offer players the benefit of being part of the same parent company. Because, in this case, the parent company is none other than Caesars Entertainment, one of the world’s most experienced and respected casino operators, players can count on virtually any offer, including sports betting to be consistently superior.
The fact that sports betting is a new offering for the Caesars-owned Atlantic City casinos should be no problem at all, given the many years of experience Caesars has had operating sportsbooks in Las Vegas, including the world-class sports betting facility at Caesars Palace.
Harrah’s sportsbook in Atlantic City can draw on that considerable expertise and experience. In fact, players are even being offered the same lines, which assures them they are getting a fair deal with every bet.
Convenience and comfort
The temporary sportsbook is located opposite the Total Rewards desk and very close to the poker room, Concert Venue, Harbor Tower, and several restaurants, as well as the main casino. The permanent sportsbook location is right in the main casino very close to the entrance.
I can’t speak for everyone, but when I watch a game, standing up or being squished into a bar seat with no leg room isn’t for me. I want to be comfortable so I can settle in and relax, which is exactly what I can do at Harrah’s sportsbook. When I visited in early August, along with six high-top tables with stools, there were 32 spacious armchairs in front of five large screen TVs.
I sat down in one of them armed with a big stack of betting sheets, and immediately, without my even asking, a waitress came over to take my order. How is that for service? Although there were only four betting windows open, it was fine because it wasn’t crowded. Of course, at the larger facility in the main casino, the number of seats, TVs, and betting windows should be much greater.
While Harrah’s is not in walking distance of any other Atlantic City casino, including those on the marina, sports bettors probably won’t want to go anywhere else. But if you do, you can drive, take a jitney or cab, or if you are going to Bally’s or Caesars, you can take the Total Rewards shuttle, which is free.
By the way, I asked whether winning tickets purchased at Harrah’s sportsbook could be cashed at the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook and vice versa. The answer is that the ticket must be cashed at the sportsbook where you bought it. However, you have up to a year from the time the results are official to do so.
Lots of betting options
Harrah’s sportsbook accepts a wide range of wagers on all major sports.
In addition to betting on games being played the same day or week, players can bet on the World Series, like the opening day first player did, and make NFL, NBA, and NHL future bets. Bets on major events in other sports are another option. However, no betting is currently being offered on horses.
See the separate section on “What you can bet on at Harrah’s sportsbook” for more information.
Link to Total Rewards program
Sports bettors at Harrah’s Resort, Bally’s Wild Wild West, and Caesars Atlantic City (when the sportsbook opens there as well), and their online affiliates, earn rewards credits for their play.
Because all of these casinos are part of the Total Rewards network, any rewards earned from your bets at Harrah’s sportsbook can be combined with and used like any other Total Rewards credits.
Tableside food service
As of this writing, Harrah’s sportsbook is the only one in Atlantic City, where players can order not just beverages, but anything from a snack to a full meal and have it brought directly to where they are sitting. However, in the near future, it is likely that the sportsbook at Bally’s Wild Wild West will also offer this option — at least that was what I was told.
This amenity is huge, so I am surprised that other casinos don’t also offer it. If you come to the sportsbook not just to bet on some of the day’s games, but also to watch them, sooner or later you are going to get hungry. But if getting something to eat means having to leave the sportsbook and go elsewhere in the building, you could miss some key plays.
For anyone with serious money riding on a game, especially if the game is a nail biter, not knowing what is happening every single minute can be nerve wracking. At Harrah’s sportsbook, you don’t have to worry about that.
More improvements expected
Last, but not least, even with all these great features, keep in mind that the sportsbook described in his article is still just a temporary facility, soon to be replaced by an even better one.
What could be better
Now that I have summarized all the Harrah’s sportsbook great features, I also need to mention a few areas where the casino can improve.
Lack of handicapping information
Now that sports betting is finally legal in New Jersey, it’s going to attract a very broad mix of players. On the one hand, there will be a large contingent of serious bettors looking for whatever relevant statistical information they can get to try to gain an edge in their handicapping. On the other hand, there will many first time players who know virtually nothing about how to bet sports, so for them a basic guide to sports betting would be invaluable.
The Borgata and Ocean Resort Casino sportsbooks have free material that should be helpful to both types of bettors. This is something completely missing at Harrah’s sportsbook that should be provided.
Take bets on horses
At one time Harrah’s did take bets on horses. Now that it has a sportsbook, it would be nice to have that betting option brought back. However, so far it hasn’t happened. For now and for the foreseeable future, the Borgata remains the only place in town with a race book.
Improve customer service
First-time visitors to the sportsbook are bound to have questions, and one that will probably be asked frequently is what kinds of comps can be earned betting sports. I think it is very reasonable for players with a basic question like that to expect the people working there, or at least the sports book manager, to know the answer.
Improve comp program
Assuming that the information regarding comps for sports bets given to me by the Total Rewards customer service supervisor is correct, I have to say I am disappointed. I don’t think the prospect of having to bet $1,000 just to get $1 in comps is going to sit well with most players.
The same is true for the $50 bet requirement to get one free drink. As I suggested in my review of the Bally’s Wild Wild West sportsbook, I think anyone who places a sports wager in any amount should be able to order at least free drink. I also think, within reason, that those who want more than one drink should be accommodated, though I’m not sure how many more, if any, should also be free. One possibility is would be to hand out vouchers. Alternatively, tickets could be punched to keep track and set reasonable limits.
Hopefully, whoever came up with the existing comp policies will reconsider them. I fear that if they remain as is, many players won’t come back, which would be a shame because Caesars Entertainment has done such a great job with its Atlantic City sportsbooks otherwise.
What you can bet on at the Harrah’s Sports Book
The sportsbook at Harrah’s Atlantic City is a full-service facility. So even though the specific sports you can bet on vary with the day and season, you will always have a lot of options.
Harrah’s sportsbook takes bets on all of the following:
In addition to point spread and moneyline bets on games being played the same day or week, future bets can be made on the World Series winner and next year’s NFL, NBA, and NHL champions. You can also make special bets like parlays, teasers, and halftime bets, just to name a few.
Basically, anything that can be bet on at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas can also be bet at Harrah’s sportsbook in Atlantic City, which uses the same lines.
How many games can you watch at one time?
On my recent visit, I counted only five flat screen TVs.
Obviously, on a busy weekend that isn’t enough to be able to watch all of the games. However, with the move to the larger permanent headquarters, the number of TVs should increase substantially. Meanwhile, for whatever games you do watch, the view couldn’t be better.
Can you bet on horses?
As mentioned above, betting on horses is not an option at this time at Harrah’s. There is currently only one place in Atlantic City taking horse racing bets, and that is the Borgata.
How do you place a bet at the Harrah’s sportsbook?
As of this writing, in order to place a bet, you will need to stand in line at one of the open windows.
At the time of my visit, only four windows were available, all of them open. But keep in mind that this was a weekday afternoon in August, so no additional betting windows were needed. Harrah’s plans to be fully ready to handle the much larger crowds expected to start in September.
The minimum bet is $5, and for now, all bets must be made in cash. Be sure to present your Total Rewards card so you can get credit for your bet.
Can you also bet sports online?
According to Mark Frissora, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment, Caesars plans to “quickly introduce” mobile and online sports betting options for its New Jersey players. Keep checking with NJ gambling websites for the latest information.
Harrah’s sportsbook amenities
As mentioned, the special amenities at Harrah’s sportsbook include plenty of comfortable seating, flat screen TVs, tableside food and beverage service from AC Burger Company, and one free drink for players wagering bet $50 or more.
As for smoking, players who wish to smoke will be allowed to do so in a specifically designated area only.
Why I recommend Harrah’s sportsbook
Out of all the Atlantic City casino sportsbooks open at this time, Harrah’s sportsbook looks like one of the best, and once it is situated in larger quarters, it will be even better. A player who is just going to make a bet and take off can do so at any sportsbook, but if you want to watch the games, too, and do so in ultra comfort, Harrah’s sportsbook is the place to do it.
Another big plus is that between games, or whenever you want to take a break, your options for other things to do on the property —casino games, poker, restaurants, bars, shopping, a show at the Concert Venue, and of course, The Pool — are as varied as anywhere. Harrah’s is indeed a complete resort!
Reviewed by Barbara Nathan