With AC Team On Horizon, Commissioner Calls AFL And Sports Betting A ‘Match Made In Heaven’

The expansion Atlantic City Arena Football League team received its official introduction Thursday afternoon.

But talk about intriguing timing. Unlike the start of last season, NJ sports betting is legal. League officials are not ignoring the fact that sports betting is part of the game in New Jersey.

During the press conference at Boardwalk Hall, AFL Commissioner Randall Boe spoke very briefly. But within his remarks, he said the AFL and sports betting are a “match made in heaven.”

But this shouldn’t come as a shock.

Last month, the league issued a press release announcing Atlantic City’s expansion team, and it included mentions of sports betting.

Ted Leonsis, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also weighed in on the experience:

“Arena football is a game that’s tailor-made for an integrated sports betting experience, and Atlantic City is a perfect fit to help realize our vision for the AFL as the next frontier in sports betting and gaming.”

Will you be able to bet on AFL games in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed in an email that authorized NJ sportsbooks are permitted to take wagers on AFL games.

Those wagers include Atlantic City games.

FanDuel Sportsbook, for its part, will likely offer odds on AFL games. It already has futures odds posted for the Alliance of American Football championship, which also got DGE approval recently.

In an interview with the Associated Press, FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessy elaborated on how legal sports betting could help turn the public eye to smaller, younger leagues, especially during the NFL offseason.

“For any new league, it’s important to get quality football in front of as many fans as possible, and sports betting is a great avenue for sparking interest in a new league. We’ll put the AAF games on some of our big screens in our FanDuel Sportsbooks in New Jersey and West Virginia alongside NBA, NHL and college basketball games, and see what happens. It’s new, but there is no better focus group than a sportsbook.”

AFL + Ocean Resort + NJ sports betting

Ocean Resort Casino is jumping aboard, too, even while going through an ownership transition.

The property is the official host hotel, providing accommodations for players and coaches throughout training camp, which begins in early April. Visiting teams and referees will stay at Ocean, too.

Out-of-town fans traveling to Atlantic City to see their team play will be able to take advantage of discounted rates. So far, Ocean is the only one of the nine AC casinos to be mentioned in the buildup to the 2019 inaugural season.

George Manias, COO of Atlantic City AFL, commented in a release:

“Ocean Resort Casino is a first-class property and will certainly offer a taste of Atlantic City.  Our hope is that we showcase Atlantic City as a great AFL market, and we feel that our Ocean Resort Casino will set the tone for that.”

Atlantic City vs. Philadelphia

Before the unnamed Atlantic City team plays its first game at Boardwalk Hall, they will travel to Philadelphia to play the Soul. Yes, it’s a showdown between two teams in two states where sports betting is legal.

That game is taking place on April 27 at the Wells Fargo Center. The arena is located walking distance from the South Philadelphia Turf Club, which launched legal sports betting in January.

The other AFL teams in Albany, NY, Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Columbus, Ohio, are all still waiting for sports betting legislation to be approved in their respective states.

With only six teams, the AFL is not going to generate anywhere close to the level of sports betting handle that NFL and NCAA football games generate.

Plus, March Madness betting is likely to top them all.

The high-scoring games could create some intriguing over/under lines though, which will interest NJ sportsbooks and bettors.

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What is the Atlantic City AFL team name?

The official team name for the new Atlantic City franchise remains under wraps. But here is what we do know.

Fans submitted more than 1,750 possible name options, and the five most common entries are being put to the vote. The outcome of the contest will be released on a yet-to-be-determined date.

Here are the five finalists that appeared on the screen during the Thursday press conference:

  • Blackjacks 
  • Jackpot
  • Royals 
  • High Rollers 
  • Gamblers 

Atlantic City will play its first home game at Boardwalk Hall on May 4. And you can bet there will be a few odds and lines available at AC sportsbooks and online sports betting sites before the game begins.

About the Author

Bill Gelman

Bill Gelman is a veteran sports writer based just outside of Philadelphia and not too far from the Jersey Shore. Bill spends time in Atlantic City writing about casino openings and expansions, special events and world championship boxing at Boardwalk Hall. He is now adding NJ sports betting and online gambling to the mix.