When the newly named Race & Sports Book at the Borgata opened for business on June 14, that casino was the only place in New Jersey, other than Monmouth Park, where legal sports betting was available.
However, the Borgata’s monopoly with regard to Atlantic City sports betting was short-lived. Two weeks later, on June 28, Ocean Resort Casino — along with its neighbor, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino — opened with great fanfare. And so did another place to bet sports.
The William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino became the second sportsbook in Atlantic City. There are now six sportsbooks in AC, part of a growing NJ sports betting market.
The goal was to be able to offer sports betting on the premises sooner rather than later. Therefore, what bettors found initially was a temporary facility that could serve their needs while the casino worked on what would ultimately be a state-of-the-art, 7,500 square-foot permanent sportsbook.
Permanent William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort
The enhancements were completed on schedule and the permanent William Hill Sports Book is now open.
Prior to the June 28 opening, many people were probably skeptical about this brand new casino’s ability to deliver a sportsbook. But any naysayers had to have been pleasantly surprised.
Not only was the initial temporary sportsbook a standout, but on Friday, Aug. 31, just in time for football season, the permanent sportsbook opened. Just as Ocean Resort Casino owner Bruce Deifik promised, the new, improved William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort is a beautiful and sophisticated world-class facility comparable to the best sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Anyone from the novice bettor to professional sports handicappers will feel right at home there.
This article provides a detailed review of what the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino has to offer. For the benefit of those who haven’t been to Ocean Resort Casino yet, you will also find some basic background information on the property itself and how this outstanding Atlantic City sportsbook became a reality there.
About Ocean Resort Casino
How to get there
Ocean Resort Casino is located at 500 Boardwalk, the same address as the former Revel. As the northernmost casino on the Boardwalk, it is within walking distance of the Hard Rock, but to get there from any other Boardwalk or marina casinos or anywhere else in Atlantic City, you will need to drive, take a jitney or cab. You can also get to Ocean Resort from any other Boardwalk casino (or vice versa) via tram or rolling chair.
Unlike other Atlantic City casinos, Ocean Resort Casino’s main entrance is on the Boardwalk side. This is where the trams, rolling chairs, jitneys, and taxis all stop.
Don’t confuse the Boardwalk level, which is called the RB Level, with the Casino or Lobby Level. The casino is one level up, and the hotel lobby is on an even higher floor, 114 feet above sea level.
The casino floor
Besides being home to one of the best sportsbooks in town, Ocean Resort offers 1,990 slot machines and 99 table games. There is also a small poker room. Most of the time 1-2 no-limit hold’em is the only poker game offered.
Navigating the casino and finding exactly what you are looking for can be somewhat tricky for a first time visitor — at least that was my experience. But one place you should have no trouble at all finding is the sportsbook. It’s impossible to miss because it is smack in the center of the casino. Simply follow the signs and the crowd.
If you get hungry anytime during your visit, you have lots of options to choose from. As you would expect at a luxury resort like this, most of the restaurants are somewhat pricey, so for those on a budget, sharing is recommended.
One nice feature is that this casino is not as crowded as some of the others, so as a general rule, there should be little or no wait at the casual restaurants. Reservations are recommended for the upscale restaurants, particularly at prime dining times. But if you decide on the spur of the moment and don’t have a reservation, you should still try. You may be able to get immediate or near-immediate seating anyway.
Another nice feature is that the menus at both the upscale and more casual restaurants at Ocean Resort Casino tend to be more health conscious than at some other Atlantic City casinos.
As of this writing, these are your various dining options:
Some of these restaurants were open previously at the Revel. Many customers will be delighted to see they are back.
- Amada: Jose Garces’ famous restaurant for Spanish cuisine, Amada has an extensive sharable tapas menu.
- American Cut: If what you’re craving is a big juicy steak, cooked perfectly to order, this steakhouse owned by celebrity chef Marc Forigone is what you’re looking for.
- Dolce Mare: Talk about hitting the trifecta. At Dolce Mare, it’s Italian cuisine, seafood, and an ocean view all rolled up together. What more could you ask for from a restaurant?
- Harper’s: Harper’s is located high above the casino on the Lobby Level. But no point in coming at dinnertime–you would be much too late. However, for a leisurely brunch, it’s perfect. Harpers is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Café 500: Open 24/7
- Sky Café: This Lobby Level restaurant with an ocean view serves lunch and dinner. The Sky Café is open from 1130 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun-Thurs. and from 1130 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat.
- Villain & Saint: This innovative eatery serves some of your favorite foods with a twist and a little rock ‘n’ roll on the side, too.
- Zhen Bang Noodles & Sushi: The name says it all. But if you want to know exactly what’s in your dish, no problem. Watch the chef prepare your order from start to finish in the open kitchen.
- Pit Boss BBQ
- The Grind: For coffee, snacks, and sandwiches
In addition to all the above, two more casual restaurants that many players are eagerly waiting for are expected to open by next winter: Wahlburgers (the hamburger chain owned by the Wahlberg family) and the Ocean Buffet.
Ocean Resort Casino other amenities
- Bars and Lounges: Lobby Bar and High Water Wine Bar
- HQ2: Open Fri.-Sun. 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
- Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub: open Thurs.-Sat. very late
- Exhale Spa: Open daily
- HQ2 Beach Club: Open Sat. and Sun. from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. seasonally
- Pools and fitness center: The Eclipse Pool, Poseidon Pool & Cabana Club, and Exhale Spa & Pool are all located on the Lobby Level. The Fitness Center is on the Casino Level.
- Ovation Hall: Check the Ocean Resort casino website for upcoming concerts and boxing matches.
- Top Golf Swing Suite: Open daily, the Top Golf Swing Suite, located on the Casino Level, is the largest facility of its kind in North America
- Retail shops and hair salon: Most of these are on the Casino Level as well.
As can be seen from all of the above, for anyone visiting Ocean Resort Casino, whether just for the day or overnight, there is always plenty to do, both in and out of the casino.
Ocean Resort sportsbook: how it came to be
Sports Betting was a priority for Ocean Resort from the get-go
Not only before sports betting became legal in New Jersey, but months before Ocean Resort Casino received its license to open, owner Bruce Deifik, was very outspoken about the new resort’s intention to make this aspect of its operations a priority.
In fact, as part of a Jan. 8 press release officially announcing the purchase of the former Revel/TEN from Glenn Straub, Deifik made the following statement:
“Atlantic City is coming back with a vengeance and with the groundwork for the legalization of sports betting, we foresee a great opportunity to bring a state of the art sports book to a city which caters to a large and diverse sports market.”
Of course, until sports betting in New Jersey became a legal option and until Ocean Resort Casino itself was officially approved, Deifik’s hands were tied. But it is to his credit, that he started planning early so that as soon as the opportune time came, Ocean Resort was ready.
Ocean Resort announced a June 28 opening date, but would it be ready?
Whereas Hard Rock first announced its June 28 opening date on April 18, the first official announcement from Ocean Resort Casino that it, too, would open on June 28, didn’t come until May 7.
Then on May 9, the Casino Control Commission unanimously decided to grant Hard Rock its license. However, the hearing for Ocean Resort Casino to plead its case had yet to be scheduled.
Knowing the sad history of the multiple promised dates for its predecessor, TEN, to open that never materialized, combined with the fact that AC Ocean Walk did not even gain possession of the property until January, I was concerned. To me it looked we were a little over a month away from history repeating itself.
Happily, those fears, shared by many other people, were unfounded.
Partnership with William Hill
On May 25, the US Supreme Court declared the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional, thereby finally paving the way for New Jersey (and other interested states) to make sports betting legal. Then nine days later — still without a license — Ocean Resort Casino set its ambitious plan in motion, partnering with sports giant William Hill US to provide a 7,500-square-foot sportsbook in the center of the casino.
Big long-term plans
The plan was to make the location of the sportsbook as convenient for the bettors as possible, so that anyone who wanted could take a short break from their slot machine or table game, place a bet, and then return to the same game.
Alternatively, the sportsbook would also be a place where bettors could linger to watch the games and socialize. Down the road, the sportsbook hopes to offer private suites for the Super Bowl and other major events
While acknowledging that the project wouldn’t be completed until the end of August, ORC indicated that it would have a temporary sports betting facility up and running on June 28.
All of this sounded great — except for one detail: The casino still lacked a license!
On June 20 and 21 ORC finally got the opportunity it needed to convince the Casino Control Commission that it should be granted a license. The Commission wasn’t immediately sold and wanted to know, “Will you be ready to open June 28?” CEO Frank Leone responded “Absolutely!”
The partnership with William Hill and the plans already in the works — both immediate and long-term — for the sportsbook impressed the Commission, too. A license was granted, and one week later, both the casino and sportsbook were open for business.
Introduction to the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort
If you haven’t been to the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino yet, here are the basic facts you need to know before you go. Don’t worry —as mentioned earlier, the layout of the property as a whole may be confusing, but you’ll have no trouble at all finding the sportsbook.
Impossible to miss
I visited the William Hill Sports Book on opening day (and multiple times since then), and what impressed me immediately was how easy it is to find. This is important because the great location, in the center of the casino, with the words BET SPORTS HERE in huge letters, draws people there immediately.
No need to ask an employee, like you might if you’re looking for a particular restaurant, where the sportsbook is. It’s impossible to miss!
Drawing huge crowds from the get-go
Furthermore, even though for the first two months it was, as the casino indicated, a temporary setup and a far cry from the “world class” facility the casino promised in time for football season, many players didn’t care.
After having no place to bet on their favorite teams for years, putting up temporarily with certain inconveniences, like a cramped space and inadequate seating, was not a big enough deal to keep the Ocean Resort sportsbook from being packed day after day from opening to closing. For the younger crowd, the Ocean Resort Casino sportsbook has quickly become an “in” place to socialize. Alternatively, for anyone who simply wanted to get a bet down and then move on and do other things, this sportsbook worked just fine.
Bigger is better
On Aug. 31, just in time for Labor Day weekend and then opening week of the regular NFL season, the William Hill Sports Book got a whole new look. The enhanced permanent sportsbook promised for Ocean Resort Casino is here!
Like the sportsbook that’s been open all summer, it’s a complete sportsbook in every sense of the word. In fact, probably any type of bet you can make at any of the major sportsbooks in Las Vegas, you can bet at the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, too. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all since most of the top Las Vegas sportsbooks are likewise run by William Hill.
But now you can feel like a king or queen of the hill yourself because you can root your teams on and watch all the action in ultra comfort.
Lots of comfortable seating
Previously the only places to sit were at the bar or on one of 20 other stools, most of which didn’t even have a good view of a TV screen. Furthermore, on my first two visits, June 28 (opening day) and Saturday, June 30, many patrons were standing because every stool was occupied.
Obviously, if a serious sports bettor wishes to stick around for any length of time, a place to sit comfortably and get a good view of the games is a must. No one should have to stand. A stool at the bar is okay for those who want to drink and socialize, but that isn’t everyone.
Ocean Resort sportsbook now has ample appropriate seating for anyone stopping by to use the facility. Seats at the bar are still an option, of course, but elderly or physically handicapped patrons or anyone looking for extra space for studying the day’s upcoming matchups, using their laptop, or having a snack and beverage can select a sofa, chaise lounge, or comfortable chair with a table instead.
Lots of big screen TVs
Ocean Resort sportsbook now has 32 flat screen TVs for your viewing pleasure — plenty to follow the action on multiple games.
Small separate smoking area
Sportsbook patrons who wish to smoke can only do so in the bar area. The rest of the sportsbook is completely non-smoking.
Hours of operation
The sportsbook is open from 10 a.m. to midnight daily. However, based on the schedule and customer demand, closing time on certain days could be later.
What can you do at Ocean Resort sportsbook?
If you are going there to bet, the first thing you should do is pick up a betting sheet or look at the board so you will know what the line is. Even if you already have a good idea what bets you want to make, you will be amazed by all the other betting options open to you. Seasonal and future baseball, football, basketball, and hockey, don’t even scratch the surface.
This sportsbook is ready to take your action on a whole slew of other sports and special events.
Apart from betting on watching the games, there’s a bar with 17 seats, or if you prefer, five round tables with four chairs each or one of the multiple mini-sofas where you and your friends can hang out and mingle with other sports fans.
Alternatively, if you are there simply for the games and prefer to sit by yourself, no problem. Choose from four long tables with chairs, 15 high chairs with table tops, or one of the many spacious armchairs.
What’s to like and what’s not to like at the Ocean Resort sportsbook
What’s great about it
The casino did a great job having the sportsbook up and running on day 1
First and foremost, Ocean Resort is to be commended for having its sportsbook up and running on the same day as the casino itself. With the exception of the Borgata, it beat all of the existing Atlantic City casinos to the punch.
Then, next on the agenda, was the plan to offer sports bettors as soon as possible a world class sportsbook on a par with the top sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Mission accomplished. The work was completed and the new enhanced sportsbook was unveiled exactly when it needed to be — in time for the big influx of customers Labor Day weekend and the even bigger crowds coming to bet and watch the regular season NFL games
Though open for business since Friday, Aug. 31, the new improved William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resot waited until Thursday, Sept. 6, just before the NFL regular season opening game kickoff, to hold its grand opening celebration.
After a succession of empty promises by the property’s last owner Straub regarding the opening of TEN Casino, it’s heartening to see that ORC has so far been true to its word about everything. CEO Phil Leone assured the public that the casino would open on June 28, and it did. He also assured the public that sports betting would be available at the resort starting the 28, and it was.
He also promised a superior world class sportsbook by the end of the summer, and here it is.
Partnership with William Hill
The partnership with William Hill deserves high praise, too. Without the expertise and experience of a sports operator of this caliber, it is doubtful that Ocean Resort Casino’s permanent sportsbook could have been completed this soon and also that the finished product would have been anywhere near as exemplary.
For other casinos still dragging their feet putting together a respectable sportsbook, I suggest looking at the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort Casino as a model on how to do it right.
My biggest criticism the day the casino first opened, not of the sportsbook per se, but of the resort as a whole, was that customer service was not up to par.
Unlike Hard Rock, which came to Atlantic City with many years of experience operating casino resorts worldwide, Ocean Walk, the company which owns Ocean Resort Casino, had zero prior casino experience, and it showed. However, the wealth of experience that William Hill brings to the table in sports betting has been a tremendous help to Ocean Resort, at least in getting its sportsbook off on the right foot.
William Hill also operates 155 of the 183 Nevada sportsbooks. And here in New Jersey, Ocean Resort Casino isn’t the only place putting its trust in William Hill to get the job done right. Like Ocean Resort Casino, Monmouth Park initiated a temporary sports betting setup to serve its customers in the interim while partnering with William Hill to create a new $5 million permanent sports betting facility
Tremendous variety of betting options
Speaking of getting off on the right foot, Ocean Resort sportsbook offers all the sports betting action you can ask for and then some. When you pick up the betting sheets and take a look at all your options, you will be amazed.
For example, baseball fans can not only bet on the regular dime (pitcher based) or 20 cent money line and run line for the entire game, but on a whole slew of side bets, like these:
- Alternate run line
- Reverse run line
- Whether or not a team will score in the first inning
- Money line and run line for the first five innings
- Total runs, hits, and errors
In addition, during football season, the pointspread, over/under, and money line don’t even begin to scratch the surface. Parlays, teasers, future bets including not only on team championships, but also on which player will win the Heisman trophy, are all available. And on top of all that, for every game, there are a slew of proposition bets you can make.
Of course, baseball and football are only two of the many different sports available for betting and viewing at William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino. For more on this topic, see the section “What can you bet on at Ocean Resort sportsbook.”
William Hill Sports Rewards Club
Sports bettors are invited and encouraged to join the William Hill Sports Rewards Club. In fact, on opening day, staff were on hand to answer questions and assist players in signing up.
Membership is free and open to those 21 years of age and older upon presentation of their full name, date of birth, address, telephone number, and a valid photo ID. Members receive a Sports Rewards Club card which should always be presented prior to making a wager
I think it is great that the casino recognizes that sports bettors are entitled to player benefits just like other casino players. However, I was surprised to learn that the two rewards programs are separate.
Sports Rewards Club Point Values
Players who join the Sports Rewards Club will receive sports points for their wagers as follows:
- Straight Bet: 1 Sports Point for for each $1 wagered
- Parlay/Teaser: 2 Sports Points for each $1 wagered
- Parlay Card: 5 Sports Points for each $1 wagered
The minimum bet is $2. Points remain in a player’s account indefinitely as long as at least one point has been earned in the past 12 months. Rewards cards and points are non-transferable from one player to another. Players receive $1 in free bets for every 1,000 Sports Points.
What could be better
As with any other newly opened facility, there are still a few things at the Ocean Resort sportsbook that could be better.
Every stadium and sports arena has concession stands because when sports fans go there to watch a game, they want to eat. Having a bar on the premises is a good start, but offering food for purchase is important, too.
I was told that Ocean Resort Casino is working on it and hopes to have food service available in the sportsbook soon.
Take bets on horses
At the present time, this sportsbook offers sports betting only. However, many people who like to bet sports also bet on horses. The Borgata takes action on both and so should Ocean Resort.
What can you bet on at Ocean Resort sportsbook?
Hard to believe, but seemingly overnight, Atlantic City went from a town where you couldn’t place a legal bet on any sports to one where you could place a bet on virtually anything — at least at the William Hill Sports Book. So no need to go to Las Vegas anymore, unless you want to, for any of your sports betting. If Vegas has a line on it, you can bet it in Atlantic City at the William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean Resort Casino!
Here is a rundown of the many different types of bets being offered:
- College and pro football: pointspread, money line, totals, props
- Daily baseball: Winner of the game, run line, first inning and first five innings bets
- College and pro basketball
- Canadian football
- Women’s pro basketball
- Baseball Futures: winner of 2018 NL and AL Pennant and World Series
- NFL and college football futures
Early odds (both lines and totals) for next week’s games
No. of regular season wins for each team
Odds of each team to win its division, AFC or NFC championship, and the Super Bowl
Odds to win the Heisman Trophy
- NBA Futures: East and West Conference winners and 2018-19 NBA champion
- NHL Futures: East and West Conference winners and 2018-19 Stanley Cup winner
The minimum bet is only $2 (as compared to $5 at most other sportsbooks). But, of course, you are welcome to wager much more.
If you win, you can cash your ticket immediately, as soon as the results are official. Otherwise, sports bettors have up to a year to cash their winning tickets.
Special advice for those who are new to sports betting
If you’re new to sports betting, suddenly being thrust with this many choices can be overwhelming. But don’t worry. Make your first visit to the sportsbook midweek at a time when it is not at its busiest. Then pick up the betting sheets that interest you and study them along with a How to Bet Guide. If you have any questions, one of the ticket sellers will be happy to help you further.
Advice for all sports bettors: Bet mindfully
Another piece of advice — and this is for everyone — is to be mindful about how much you bet. Even though individual bets can be as little as $2, the grand total can add up quickly. With so many different types of bets available all day long, it’s easy to get carried away. So don’t go crazy. Stay within the limits of your budget, and if you’re having a bad day, don’t chase your losses.
The sportsbook will be there every day, but you won’t if you run out of money.
How many games can you watch at one time?
When the Ocean Resort sportsbook first opened, there were only eight flat screen TVs, clearly not enough. Now there are 32 flat screen TVs. Eight of them are at the bar. The others are in the main sportsbook area. So you can easily watch multiple games no matter where you are seated.
In addition, you don’t have to wait for updates on other games to be announced on TV. Simply look at the ticker circling around the bar, not only for reminders of the starting times for upcoming games, but also for up-to-the-minute scores on every game in progress.
Can you bet on horses?
As already mentioned, betting on horses is not currently an option at the William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort. However, the Borgata Race & Sportsbook is taking bets on major racetracks all across the country.
How do you place a bet at Ocean Resort sportsbook
You have two options. You can either stand in line and place your bet (in cash) with the agent or, for fastest service, use one of the self-service betting kiosks. The sportsbook has eight betting windows and two kiosks.
Hopefully, that’s enough. During football season weekends, it doesn’t seem like it would be, but we’ll soon find out.
Can you also bet sports online?
Online sports betting is not yet an option that this sportsbook offers. However, Ocean Resort Casino and William Hill are working on it. The casino has partnered with GAN to offer online gambling.
As soon as we know more, we will provide a full update on NJ Gambling Websites.
William Hill Sports Book at Ocean Resort amenities
One of the advantages of having multiple sportsbooks to choose from is that you can shop around for the best betting lines. However, the different facilities vary, not only with regard to betting options and prices, but also in the kinds of amenities they offer.
William Hill Sports Book is superior in both betting options and amenities.
Great bar but no food (at least not yet)
The sportsbook offers a full service bar, but no food. I was told that the casino is working on fixing that, but in the meantime, no need to go hungry, as there is no shortage of restaurants and snack bars in other parts of the casino.
Your best options would be to eat or pick up some food to take back to the sportsbook before game time. That way you won’t need to go to another part of the casino later and miss some of the action while the game you are watching is in progress.
At first, the sportsbook had very few seats and no tables for eating, so bringing food into the sportsbook wouldn’t have worked. But now there are lots of comfortable chairs and tables, so it’s no problem at all. Even so, for anyone planning on being in the sportsbook for a long time to watch multiple games, food service right there would be a big improvement.
No sports bettor should have to choose between staying hungry and missing the action.
Individual gaming consoles
Bar patrons will like the fact that they can not only watch all the action from the big screen TVs right in front of them, but also view all the latest information on upcoming games, as well as scores of games in progress, on the moving ticker circling the bar area.
Every bar seat also comes with its own individual gaming console. So even during commercials and other down time, you can stay in action playing slots, video poker, or blackjack. The machines take 25 cents, 50 cents, and $1 denominations.
How to bet guide
Now that football season is here, not only seasoned bettors, but also many complete novices, will be gravitating to the Ocean Resort Casino sportsbook. Those who are new to sports betting will find the sportsbook’s free How to Bet Guide very helpful.
Sports Rewards Club
Also, anyone planning to place sports bets often should join the Sports Rewards Club. Even with small wagers, they can add up to $1,000 in straight bets, $500 in parlays or teasers, or $200 in parlay cards very quickly and qualify you for $1 in free play.
Reviewed by Barbara Nathan