Summertime in Atlantic City is always a busy time. This summer just happened to be more active than most.
And not just in Atlantic City either. All of New Jersey has been celebrating the legalization of sports betting, two new hotel openings, and record revenue for the state’s casinos.
It wasn’t all celebratory though. After highlighting the 10 most significant news stories from the last few months, we decided to share a few things that could benefit from a do-over.
Here are five things that could have gone better this summer.
1. FanDuel Sportsbook suffers growing pains
The FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands was the first experiment of a daily fantasy sports site transitioning to a full-service sportsbook. By all accounts, the experiment worked.
Not long after it opened, the sportsbook closed at its posted time of 1 a.m. The only problem was that the Phillies-Dodgers game was still in progress. Some bettors were left without a way to cash in their tickets and blamed FanDuel for the oversight.
The company made a point to say that cash on hand was not the issue, but that didn’t seem to calm the tempers of bettors left holding a ticket. Customers took to social media to air their grievances, giving the brand new sportsbook negative media attention at a critical time.
Many chalked up the mishap to growing pains. To its credit, FanDuel Sportsbook at Meadowlands has done better at communicating with its customers.
This little bump in the road did not stop FanDuel from recently launching its mobile app. And in July, it took in more than $1.3 million in gross revenue.
Safe to say, things are going all right for FanDuel and its newly released NJ sportsbook app.
2. DraftKings Sportsbook suffers from a DDoS attack
DraftKings Sportsbook was the first NJ sports betting app in New Jersey to launch an online and mobile sportsbook. As such, it exposed itself to a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks just days after its website went live.
The company successfully fought off the first series of attacks. Nevertheless, it succumbed to a second wave that left sports bettors without access for 26 minutes.
DraftKings did not anticipate dealing with DDoS attacks immediately after launching. It’s not the kind of headlines a company wants to make when trying to pivot to a new vertical.
In the nascent sports betting industry, every action and response is under scrutiny. To DraftKings credit, they are aggressively searching for the attackers.
The company filed a motion in court to obtain a subpoena to gain information that will identify the accused, and it plans to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
3. The New Jersey state government nearly shuts down
In 2017, the state government shut down over the July Fourth weekend. It was not one of former Gov. Chris Christie’s finest moments as he was caught lounging on a closed beach.
It seemed as if New Jersey was in for a similar fate this summer. Some thought there was no way a Democratic governor would allow the state to shut down.
Well, they were wrong.
Gov. Phil Murphy wanted a tax on millionaires, but the legislature said no way. They argued up until the eleventh hour.
It got so close that State Sen. Chris Brown asked Murphy to exempt Atlantic City casinos from the shutdown.
Eventually, a compromise miraculously happened, and the need for an executive order to keep the one-armed bandits operational wasn’t necessary.
4. Online poker struggles even after shared liquidity
Online poker in New Jersey has been struggling for more than a year. The industry was treading water while waiting for the launch of shared liquidity.
The launch happened May 1. There was some initial excitement about the possibility of New Jersey players sitting down with other poker players from Nevada and Delaware on the virtual felt.
There were high expectations for a combined player pool. In the end, however, shared liquidity didn’t benefit New Jersey at all.
The lack of growth resulted in a lot of speculation as to why. Most likely it boils down to the fact that the population of Nevada and Delaware equals one-third the population of New Jersey.
There just aren’t enough players to make a difference.
5. Atlantic City Rail Line derailed for the rest of the year
Earlier this summer, the impending shutdown of the Atlantic City Rail Line made the news. The service that connects Philadelphia to the Boardwalk will cease operations through Dec. 31. In fact, it’s already closed.
Accordingly, regular riders of the line were not happy and not just at the shutdown. They voiced concerns that the line wouldn’t reopen.
New Jersey Transit has been plagued by budget problems, hiring challenges, and required equipment upgrades. Riders are not confident NJ Transit will overcome the obstacles and restore the Atlantic City Rail Line.
Kevin Corbett, executive director of NJ Transit, assures riders the Atlantic City Line will be back on track later this year.
Are you ready for some football?
Looking back on the summer, the above mishaps seem minor compared to all of the accomplishments.
Expect more headlines as we head into fall and the busiest sports betting season of all. The first football season post-PAPSA will surely be one for the record books.