Atlantic City Courting Sporting Events in Anticipation of Operating Sports Books

Posted on: January 15, 2018, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: January 15, 2018, 04:48h.

Chris Howard
Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Executive Director Chris Howard has lured three sporting events to Boardwalk Hall and expects to bring more to the city. (Image: CRDA)

With the possibility of sports betting becoming legalized in New Jersey Atlantic City is wasting no time luring professional events to the boardwalk.

The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority announced last Friday that The Professional Bull Riders tour, Division I men’s college basketball and a Bear Grylls survival challenge will come between September and December to Boardwalk Hall, a multipurpose arena that can seat 14,770 and first opened in 1929.

Talks to persuade the three to come began last year between the CRDA and the management firm that represents them, IMG. Chris Howard, the CRDA’s executive director, told the Press of Atlantic City that he expects the venue to host more sporting events in the future.

“We were really looking for some different types of events and also destination events, events that you don’t have an opportunity to see anywhere else in the region necessarily, that are going to bring people in from a larger radius,” he said.

The city has hosted several marquee events in the past, including the first indoor football game in 1930 and in 1964 was the site of the Democratic National Convention.

Some of the other events it will host this year are an indoor racing contest and a Rod Stewart concert.

Sports Betting Decision Looming

On Dec. 4, 2017 the Supreme Court heard the case of Christie V. NCAA that the petitioners sought to overturn Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. Litigator Ted Olson argued the law passed by Congress was a violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution and his argument seemed to impress some of the justices.

Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out that Congress hasn’t set any clear policy on sports betting, but continued to tell states that they can’t individually legalize the activity. Anthony Kennedy openly agreed with Olson’s points.

If the nine justices side with New Jersey sports betting would be allowed elsewhere other than Nevada. A ruling on the case is expected before June but could come as soon as February.

Preparing for Verdict

While more than 20 states have expressed interest in allowing sports betting, many would need time to build facilities in their casinos and train staff. One place that appears to be more prepared than others is Atlantic City. Having championed the cause for more than two years the resorts are acting as if the ruling is a fait accompli.

Of the seven opened facilities five of them have sister properties in Las Vegas that house sports books. Getting an operation up and running would be far easier than say the Borgata Atlantic City.

That doesn’t mean others won’t want to get involved. The former Revel, which was bought by a Colorado investment group, is planning on reopening after a renovation in the summer. One of the amenities CEO Bruce Deifik is planning on having at his newly named Ocean Resort Casino is a large sports book.