Raise The Curtain: Hard Rock AC Announces Live Entertainment Plans

Hard Rock AC might not be hosting live concerts yet, but there is a holiday show coming to town in December with health-and-safety rules in place.

Entertainment fans looking to catch a concert at Hard Rock Live Etess Arena will still be waiting several months.

According to the Hard Rock Casino website, Pitbull is currently the next scheduled entertainer. And by next, we mean June 25, 2021. He was originally booked for Nov. 7.

Hard Rock, however, isn’t waiting as long to offer customers live entertainment. The property announced it’s bringing back live music for the holiday season.

Motor City Live’s A Motown Christmas will run on select dates at Sound Waves.

Hard Rock AC is the first of the nine Atlantic City casinos to offer guests an indoor theater-style show since the pandemic shut down the industry back in March.

Details on Hard Rock’s entertainment plans

Some may question bringing back some form of live entertainment as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Gov. Phil Murphy recently urged the Garden State to be cautious heading into a busy holiday season.

However, like the casino floor and restaurants, there will be limited capacity at each show. Plus Hard Rock will be implementing the strict “Safe + Sound” guidelines for each and every show.

Tickets ($29 each) are being sold as individual tables of two and four to ensure social distancing. Tickets go on sale Friday, Nov. 27, with A Motown Christmas running on select dates between Dec. 11 and Dec. 30.

Here are some of the other precautions being implemented:

  • Temperature checks
  • One-way directed traffic patterns
  • Decreased venue capacity
  • Mandated facial coverings

Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock AC, commented on the new entertainment offering.

“We are happy to present a holiday show to raise the spirits of our guests in a very safe and sound environment,” said Lupo.

“Public demand is looking for activities, especially with outdoor temperatures keeping everyone inside. The large showrooms, with better air circulation and spacious seating, and less than 10% of normal (occupancy) can provide that safe and fun night out.”

This is the latest example of Hard Rock’s willingness to offer guests additional amenities with strict health and safety protocols.

Last month’s reopening of the Fresh Harvest casino buffet is another example of this. So far, Hard Rock AC is the only New Jersey casino to bring back the dining concept, minus the buffet stations.

What other AC casinos are doing

So here’s the bigger question: When will other Atlantic City casinos bring back live entertainment?

Well, the answer is still to be determined.

Other AC properties are slowly starting to offer other forms of entertainment.

Harrah’s Resort hosted a series of outdoor concerts in the summer with its Bayside ROCK Live series.

Tropicana is going the comedy route with performances by the AC Jokes comedy club.

So what comes next is anybody’s guess. However, it’s highly likely those answers will not come until the first quarter of 2021, at the earliest.

For now, Hard Rock is ready with some holiday cheer.

Football Five: Entire NFC East Still Chasing One Playoff Spot

Every NFC East team heads into Week 12 with a realistic chance at the NFL playoffs as the Eagles suddenly have three teams in hot pursuit of their lead.

When the season began, all four NFC East teams would have been happy to contend with six weeks remaining.

Consider them happy, even with their anemic win totals.

At 3-6-1, the  Philadelphia Eagles are the gold standard in the NFC East. Yes, it’s good enough for first place. Meanwhile, the New York GiantsDallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team are in hot pursuit with identical 3-7 records.

So any one of these four teams could realistically win what is now known as the NFC Least.

Give all those teams 7-3 records and nothing changes. Even is even. It only matters who gets hot now.

We start the Football Five looking at Big Blue.

Will the Giants make a late run?

The Giants, who visit the Cincinnati Bengals, have asserted their claim for the prize on the basis of a rare two-game winning streak.

Quarterback Daniel Jones played error-free in recent victories over Washington and Philadelphia. The offensive line has made some holes for running back Wayne Gallman, and Darius Slayton is one of the league’s best wide receivers.

Coming off a bye, the Giants also received a break they never would have asked for, the season-ending injury to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. His leadership had transformed the Bengals’ attitude, and they were 7-2 against the spread before he left Sunday’s game against Washington, which they lost.

The Bengals are rudderless, while the Giants now face a key contest. Barring a Turkey Day tie, either Washington or Dallas will lead the division with four wins before this game kicks off. Should Washington defeat Dallas, the Giants would momentarily assume first place with a triumph. And they would be the first team in the division to … wait for it … win three games in a row.

But a loss would drop them a game off the pace.

 AFC teams heading into Week 12

The AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills had to endure a bye after losing on a last-second Hail Mary to the Arizona Cardinals. They host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. The Bills lead the division by one game over the Miami Dolphins. The second-place Dolphins visit the still-winless but suddenly feisty New York Jets. Despite being 0-10, the Jets are authors of three covers in the last four weeks.

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, tops in the AFC West, invade the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady, an invitation to get out the calculator.  These two have hooked up for epic shootouts in the past. Brady, however, has come up small in big games this year, including Monday’s 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, towering atop the AFC North and the NFL world at 10-0, host the Baltimore Ravens in one of their toughest obstacles to a 16-0 season.

The Ravens have dropped two straight after losing two games all of last year and are scuffling at 6-4. This one concludes the Thanksgiving triple-header, preceded by the Houston Texans at Detroit Lions and the Washington-Dallas battle.

The Indianapolis ColtsTennessee Titans rematch comes two weeks after the Colts won the first battle 34-17 in Tennessee. Last week, the Titans roared back to beat the Ravens in overtime, and the Colts overcame a 14-point deficit against the Green Bay Packers.

Note to in-game bettors: So far, during every week of the season, a team has come back from a double-digit deficit to win.

Nuggets on key Week 12 NFC games

The NFC East-leading Eagles and NFC West co-leader Seattle Seahawks battle Monday night. The North-leading Packers try to lick their wounds from Sunday’s collapse against Indianapolis and take it out on the Chicago Bears.

The NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints, winners of seven straight, are red hot heading into Sunday’s game at the Denver Broncos. Taysom Hill has replaced Drew Brees at QB for at least a couple of more weeks. The Saints went 5-0 without Brees last year under Teddy Bridgewater and won last week with Hill.

The peril of season-long player props

Burrow was projected to reach nearly 3,700 passing yards this season in sportsbook props. The top pick of the draft and Cincinnati’s new leader was easily on pace for that but suffered a season-ending injury on Sunday.

This scenario is dramatically evident in football more than any other major sport. One play can take a franchise player out of the loop, underscoring the bevy of roughing-the-passer calls designed to protect NFL quarterbacks. But when a big injury occurs, the teams and bettors get burned.

The philosophy extends to other sports. In 2015, Giancarlo Stanton was on pace to reward bettors at 8-1 odds in Las Vegas sportsbooks for any player to reach 50 homers that year.  He had a league-leading 27 through 74 games. And then he got hurt. Bet over. The league leader ended with 47.

The revamped top-rookie chase

Burrow’s injury elevated Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers and Chase Claypool of the Steelers. Claypool scored his 10th touchdown of the season Sunday, becoming the first player in NFL history to notch 10 touchdowns in his first 10 games.

Herbert plays for a less-accomplished team but has an outstanding 22 touchdowns versus just six interceptions.

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Will the Cleveland Browns be hot or cold?

Which Cleveland Browns team will invade Jacksonville this week?

Remember the Browns notching 30 points four weeks in a row, including 49 against the Dallas Cowboys? But then they had a homestand and the weather dismantled their passing game.  The Browns played a run-first game, and their offense produced 29 points total.

How do bettors approach them?

This now 7-3 team has learned how to win in the cold, an essential ingredient of postseason football. Should the Browns qualify, they are well situated, with the league’s best running tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield has not thrown a touchdown pass over the last three games, but the Browns have won two of them. Cleveland’s defense provided eight points in its  22-17 triumph over the Eagles.

The Browns will pound the ball again versus a team that has lost nine in a row, but don’t be surprised if Mayfield opens up and tosses a couple of scores. The books expect offense, as  DraftKings Sportsbook has the total points at 49.

photo by ASSOCIATED PRESS 

 

NJ Sports Betting Handle Cruises Past $800 Million In Bets In October

The $803 million in bets made in October continues the NJ sports betting trend of Garden State bettors setting new nationwide all-time highs.

There is a NJ sports betting trend, and there are no signs of it slowing down.

The trend we are referencing is the amount of money being wagered on a monthly basis, with the latest all-time high being October’s $803 million. More than 92% of those wagers were made via mobile apps.

Besides being a New Jersey record, it’s the biggest monthly handle ever reported by any legal US sports betting jurisdiction, Nevada included.

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement released October numbers earlier today.

NJ sports betting revenue came in at $58.5 million, good enough for a 26.1% year-over-year increase.

Here’s a closer look at a few of the other highlights.

NJ sports betting isn’t slowing down

For the year, New Jersey has taken in more than $4 billion in bets, and the last three months have a lot to do with it.

Just look at the numbers.

So out of the $4 billion, more than 50% of the wagers have been placed over the last three months.

Clearly, the shift in the pro sports calendar as a result of the COVID-19 stoppage is having a lasting impact. Remember, all four major pro sports were sidelined during the months of April, May and June.

They slowly started returning in July, but things really didn’t get rolling again until August.

Now, with NFL betting season in midseason form, the industry is showing no signs of slowing down.

FanDuel + Meadowlands still dominating

Once again, there were no surprises regarding the market leader. The Meadowlands Racetrack crushed the field with $29.8 million in revenue.

Out of that total, $29.3 million came via online.

It’s NJ Gambling Sites’ understanding that the bulk of this number can be attributed to FanDuel Sportsbook. However, PointsBet NJ also operates under the license.

Resorts Digital, which is led by DraftKings Sportsbook and Fox Bet, finished an extremely distant second with $14.6 million. The Resorts-branded app also operates under the license.

Borgata, consisting of BetMGM Sportsbook and Borgata Sports, followed in third with $4.3 million.

In terms of market share, Meadowlands still has the biggest chunk, with 50.8% for October.

NJ sports betting + online casino = winning hand

Looking at the October numbers as a whole, it’s hard to ignore the $93.4 million in NJ online casino revenue.

This is the first time ever that number has crossed the $90 million mark. Fittingly, it comes as the industry is about to celebrate the seventh anniversary of its launch.

Here is why this number is significant. The majority of operators have sports betting and casino platforms integrated in the same app. This means the cross-selling model continues to pay dividends.

Resorts Digital is a perfect example, reporting $21.6 million in internet gaming revenue. Combine it with the sports betting revenue, and the grand total comes out to $36.2 million.

Bally’s Atlantic City, as a land-based operation, only earned $11.5 million in total gaming revenue.

Looking ahead to November revenue

Like previous months in 2020, November’s NJ sports betting revenue will include a couple of interesting twists.

For one, the NBA and NHL regular-season starts are delayed as a result of the much later finishes to their respective seasons.

Right now, the majority of the spotlight belongs to NFL and college football betting.

The Masters is the wild card. The PGA Tour major, which typically follows March Madness betting, is making an extremely rare fall appearance.

This is the first time the event is being played in November. Plus, NJ sportsbooks are going all out for Masters weekend.

Then there is the NBA Draft, which is usually held every summer. This year’s version is taking place Nov. 18, but it’s unlikely to attract a significant amount of wagering.

However, DraftKings is offering odds on everything from the No. 1 overall pick to player draft position to school specials.

But here’s the bigger question: Is the $803 million record here to stay, or will New Jersey be looking at its first $850 million month?

First In Line: Hard Rock Atlantic City Reopens Buffet With Changes

Hard Rock AC is now offering customers an all-you-can-eat dining experience at Fresh Harvest. It is the first and only Atlantic City casino buffet to reopen.

Hard Rock Casino finally has the one thing missing from the Atlantic City indoor dining season.

Any idea what it is?

After months of waiting, Hard Rock Atlantic City customers now have the option of eating lunch or dinner at Fresh Harvest casino buffet. For those wondering how a property can operate a buffet when the coronavirus global pandemic is still around, the solution involves some creativity.

Hard Rock is reinventing the concept by replacing the traditional buffet with an all-you-can-eat dining experience.

In other words, for now, forget about the long lines at the food stations. Instead, all of the “classic comforts and international favorites” are served straight to the table. The cost is $29.99 per person.

Call it the social-distance version of the popular Atlantic City buffet.

What’s on the Fresh Harvest buffet menu

Customers familiar with the Fresh Harvest menu will notice that many of the regular items are still on the expansive menu.

Here is a small sampling of what’s available:

  • Sliced brisket
  • New England clam chowder
  • General Tso’s chicken
  • Italian chopped salad
  • New York cheesecake parfaits

Hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday, noon-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon-10 p.m.

Status of Atlantic City indoor dining

Nothing much has changed since early September when Gov. Phil Murphy cleared the path for AC casinos to bring back indoor dining.

Like the other restaurants across the state, Fresh Harvest employees and guests must follow the indoor dining guidelines mandated by New Jersey.

Hard Rock AC takes things a step further with its Safe + Sound protocols.

At this time, there is no word on when Murphy will increase indoor capacity.

When will other Atlantic City casino buffets reopen?

Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that will remain unanswered for now.

NJGamblingSites reached out to several of the other Atlantic City casinos, and “nothing new” was the response across the board.

The Buffet page on the Golden Nugget AC website includes a brief statement:

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Buffet is closed until further notice.”

The restaurant page on the Tropicana AC website still shows the words “Temporarily Closed” across the Fiesta Buffet image.

The others may be waiting to see how smoothly things go at Hard Rock before moving forward with their buffet reopening plans.

Associated Press photo

The 19th NJ Sportsbook Is Here, But Can It Compete In A Crowded Market?

Tipico Sportsbook’s arrival in the NJ market means having 20 sports betting apps in the state before 2020 ends is much more likely.

There is something slightly different regarding NJ sports betting.

For those who haven’t noticed it, the Garden State now has 19 sports betting apps, as Tipico Sportsbook is in its soft-launch period.

Do we hear 20 NJ sportsbook apps?

The scenario is certainly a realistic possibility for 2020.

Tipico, operating via a land-based partnership with Ocean Casino Resort, started its soft launch as mandated by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) last week. The full launch is expected soon.

And it seems Tipico is excited about having skin in the game.

Tipico a late arrival to NJ sports betting

Since launching in August 2018, the NJ mobile sports betting market has expanded at a rapid rate. A total of nine apps launched during those first five months. The options have more than doubled in size, with some rebranding along the way.

But 2020 as a whole has been relatively quiet in terms of new apps. Wynn Sports is the only other newcomer following its early August launch.

Meanwhile, market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook are in their third season of NFL betting. Looking at September NJ sports betting revenue, the two brands are clearly leading the pack.

Meadowlands Racetrack (FanDuel and PointsBet NJ) claimed a 63% market shareResorts Digital (DraftKings, Fox Bet and Resorts) finished an extremely distant second with a 12% slice of the pie.

Ocean Casino, on the other hand, and its partner William Hill, came in at a tad below 6%.

Gaining traction this late in the game and eight weeks into the NFL season presents its share of challenges.

At the same time, launching in New Jersey makes perfect sense for any mobile operator looking to get a piece of US legal sports betting.

For one, it’s hard to ignore the $750 million in bets that NJ reported for September. This is the highest total ever reported by a US jurisdiction, Nevada included. And 90% of those wagers came via NJ sportsbook apps.

After Tipico received DGE approval last month, Adrian Vella, managing director, US business, commented on why New Jersey makes sense.

“At Tipico, we knew that New Jersey would be the perfect state for us to kick-start our business in the US because of its sophisticated mobile sports betting audience and mature regulatory and licensing environment,” said Vella.

“With an incredible pool of local talent in the New York metro area, we’re thrilled to establish our headquarters in Hoboken and continue expanding our team. We’ve dedicated significant time and energy to build a long-term foundation for the US market, and today marks an important milestone in that journey for Tipico.”

Who in the world is Tipico Sportsbook?

The key to the Tipico team is introducing its brand to New Jersey customers.

Bettors who are doing NFL odds shopping may not take Tipico into consideration, since it’s an unknown entity.

European-based Tipico, which was founded in 2004, is Germany’s leading sports betting provider. So it’s no surprise that the operator is offering Bundesliga (the top German soccer league) odds.

Here is a list of the American sports available via the app:

  • MLB
  • NFL 
  • NCAA Football 
  • Soccer
  • Tennis

Judging by the Tipico Twitter feed, the operator is trying to introduce itself to NFL bettors.

Closing in on 20 NJ sportsbook apps

Tipico is the newest app to the NJ market, but more are coming.

Each license holder can have up to three online skins. And in the case of Ocean, there is room for one more.

Then there is Freehold Raceway, which launched its business in September. There is no doubt mobile apps will be launching under its license in the very near future. This is the most likely path for Barstool Sportsbook’s NJ launch.

And once Twin River Worldwide Holdings completes the purchase of Bally’s AC, expect to see three more apps there.

So having 20 NJ sportsbook apps by the end of 2020 is now considered what bettors refer to as a “lock.”

Setting the over/under line for NJ sportsbook apps at 25 suddenly looks like a realistic possibility for 2021.

PHOTO BY ASSOCIATED PRESS 

NJ Sports Betting Soars To Record $750 Million In Bets In September

New Jersey moved the sports betting benchmark once again with an eye-popping $748.5 million September handle. The question is how close will Nevada get?

How would the start of the 2020 NFL season, minus the fans, impact September’s NJ sports betting handle?

Well, looking at the  $748.5 million handle reported earlier today by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the word HUGE comes to mind. Not surprisingly, 90.6% came via mobile apps.

And it’s $80.6 million more than August’s $667.9 million. This makes it back-to-back months in which the Garden State has hit all-time highs for handle.

We’re talking any legal US sports betting jurisdiction, even Nevada.

NJ sports betting revenue came in at $45 million, good enough for a 19% year-over-year increase.

Here’s a closer look at three factors that can be attributed to September’s results.

Broken record: FanDuel is still killing it

No matter what month we’re talking about, Meadowlands Racetrack, the land-based partner of FanDuel Sportsbook, is dominating the field.

September was no exception, with $28.1 million in revenuePointsBet NJ also operates under the license, but NJ Gambling Sites understands that FanDuel accounts for the bulk of it.

For the month, the Meadowlands/FanDuel claimed a 62.3% market share.

Resorts Digital, which consists of DraftKings Sportsbook, Fox Bet and the self-branded app, finished an extremely distant second with $4.7 million.

Borgata (BetMGM and Borgata Sports) was the only other license holder to crack $4 million in revenue; $4.06 million, to be exact.

September sports calendar was stacked

Sports bettors have never seen a September like the one that just passed.

Sure, NFL betting and the tail end of the Major League Baseball season are the norms.

However, the 2020 version also included the NBA and NHL playoffs along with PGA Tour’s US Open. So besides the buzz generated by the NFL’s opening weekend, the menu of additional options resembled a gourmet restaurant for sports bettors.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the pro sports world back in March, eventually there was going to be a month where every major pro sport would be playing meaningful games.

September was it.

Will it happen again? It’s hard to predict anything these days.

Cross-selling with online casino

In case you haven’t noticed, the NJ online casino market is enjoying quite a run of its own.

September’s $87.6 million may not be an all-time high, but it’s pretty close to being one. The $87.7 million from August still tops the charts. For those keeping track, this would be five straight months of online casino revenue exceeding $80 million.

Some of it can be attributed to Atlantic City casinos operating at 25% capacity.

At the same time, the bulk of the NJ sportsbook apps out there have sports and casino offerings integrated in the same platform. Access to a shared wallet combined with cross-selling promotions makes it a win-win for operators and players.

The proof comes in the latest numbers.

How big will NJ sports betting handle get?

At the moment, there are no signs of the NJ sports betting market slowing down.

Sure, the NBA and NHL recently crowned their respective champions, but NFL and college football are the bigger draws. And those seasons still have a long way to go.

And with baseball, there is the excitement of the Tampa Bay Rays, not New York Yankees, shocking the baseball world as the American’s League top team. They are one win away from making it to only the second World Series in franchise history (although interest in the Yankees would have probably helped boost handle a bit).

The other came in 2008, when the Philadelphia Phillies won it all.

Could the current scenario result in the first $800 million month in NJ sports betting history?

AP Photo/Brett Duke