DraftKings Kicks Off NFL Betting With Season-Long Pick’em National Championship

The Pro Football Pick’em National Championship at DraftKings Sportsbook is underway. And this NFL pick’em contest features a grand prize of $1 million.

Are you ready for some football, New Jersey? Then you are in luck. DraftKings launched a new NFL pick’em contest featuring a $1 million grand prize.

And NJ sports betting fans will be getting first dibs on the newest, biggest contest being offered.

What is the DraftKings NFL Pick’Em contest?

The Pro Football Pick’em National Championship is a season-long contest in which players pick five games against the spread each week.

The contest will last from Week 1 all the way through Week 16. Players choose games during 14 of those weeks, with two bye weeks of their choice.

All picks will have to be made by 10 a.m. EST on the Sunday of that particular week.

If a player gets all five of their picks right in a given week, they will get a free $100 bet on DraftKings Sportsbook.

The contest costs $1,500 to enter with three total entries allowed.

Now, at the time of this writing, New Jersey was the only state taking part. But DraftKings hopes to add more states before the season begins.

Cash prizes for 50 winners

The top 50 players at the end of the season will all get a cash prize, with the winner getting that coveted $1 million.

The rest of the payouts are as follows:

RankPrize
2nd Place
$250,000
3rd Place$125,000
4th Place$100,000
5th Place$75,000
6th Place$60,000
7th Place$50,000
8th Place$40,000
9th Place$30,000
10th Place$20,000
11th-15th Place$15,000
16th-20th Place$10,000
21st-25th Place$7,500
26th-35th Place$5,000
36th-50th Place$2,500

What if the 2020 NFL season is delayed or canceled?

Like the other US pro sports leagues, the NFL’s 2020 schedule has been affected by the COVID-19 global pandemic. For instance, the NFL Draft was to take place back in April in Las Vegas but was switched to a virtual draft instead.

As the NFL betting season draws near to football’s official start in September, the country is still dealing with the pandemic. This makes it a possibility that the regular season could be affected as well.

In that case, DraftKings does have a contingency plan in case of any delays or changes to the season. Here’s the gist:

  • If the season starts after Sept. 10, DraftKings will simply shift the contest’s start to coincide with the new start of the season.
  • If the season gets canceled after Week 12, DraftKings will still honor payouts for all of the winners. If the season is canceled before Week 12, DraftKings will refund players.
  • If the season is canceled between Weeks 12 and 16, the winners will be determined based on the player’s percentage of correct picks rather than total correct picks. This rule is in place because some players will have used one or both of their bye weeks by then.

How to enter the DraftKings Pro Football Pick’em National Championship

If you are looking to enter the Pro Football Pick’em National Championship, log in to DraftKings Sportsbook and click on the “Pools” tab.

If you are signing up for the first time, you will need to register and deposit funds.

If not, you simply have to opt into the contest, pay the entry fee, and wait ever-so-patiently for the NFL season to kick off.

Caesars-Eldorado Merger Means Big Changes Ahead For Atlantic City

With the Caesars-Eldorado merger officially finalized, Atlantic City casinos will once again experience changes as the new company takes control.

After months of planning and regulatory discussions, Eldorado Resorts officially acquired Caesars Entertainment on Monday.

The merger creates the biggest casino and resort company in the US. It also puts a large chunk of Atlantic City’s casinos under one umbrella.

The merger needed to overcome one final regulatory hurdle: the New Jersey Casino Control Commission. After three days of testimony, the CCC unanimously approved the Caesars-Eldorado merger on July 17.

“We are pleased to have completed this transformative merger, thus making us the premier leader in gaming and hospitality. We look forward to executing on the numerous opportunities ahead to create value for all stakeholders,” said Tom Reeg, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, in a press release announcing the merger.

Caesars-Eldorado merger and Atlantic City

The new Caesars Entertainment will operate four of AC’s nine casinos — Harrah’s, Caesars, Tropicana, and Bally’s. The latter was sold in April to Twin River Holdings, but the sale agreement is expected to close at the end of 2020.

The sale was a preemptive move by Caesars to offload one of its Atlantic City properties prior to the merger being approved.

Last week, during the three days of hearings, the Division of Gaming Enforcement and CCC raised multiple concerns about the lack of improvements made to the Caesars’ properties in Atlantic City.

To this end, the CCC added some mandatory conditions as part of the merger’s approval.

One requirement included putting improvements in place at each of the three casinos in AC over the next three years. Caesars agreed. As such, a $400 million capital expenditures trust account will be created.

Additionally, if the Bally’s property isn’t sold within a year, an extra $125 million will be added to that account.

The details of the requirements go even further than that. For instance, at least $150 million must be spent on improvements at Caesars Atlantic City over the next three years.

Investing and believing in AC

Eldorado and the new Caesars are also prohibited from closing any of the Caesars properties for five years after the merger is completed.

“We wouldn’t be doing this transaction if we weren’t believers in Atlantic City because it’s so important to Caesars as it sits today,” said Reeg to the commission last week.

“We understand that we acquire the positives and negatives of Caesars and we know that Atlantic City and New Jersey have had some difficulties with a lack of investment from Caesars, chiefly in the past, and we understand why the conditions are there.”

Representatives from Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Casino Resort filed petitions with the CCC about the proposed merger’s impact on their businesses, but they were denied.

A fresh start for Caesars-Eldorado merger

A merger of such magnitude impacts not only casino employees but visitors and the city as well.

With Eldorado’s purchase of Caesars, it feels like a fresh start for all involved. The new Caesars establishes itself as a major player in Atlantic City in 2020 and beyond.

For state and local officials, Caesars will be under the ownership of a group that seems to have the best interests in mind for its properties and Atlantic City.

And while the concerns were duly noted, Caesars will not only bring added customer benefits from the merger but also a renewed focus to offer guests the best experience.

“We’re going to really lean on both the Caesars database and the Eldorado database, and get the best customers we can to come to Atlantic City,” said Brent Yunker, Caesars Entertainment’s CFO, said to The Press of Atlantic City.

“It’s obviously going to play out over a number of years because of this very unique scenario we’re in with COVID-19. But we’re going to try to do this as quickly as we possibly can but also as safely as we can.”

Atlantic City has had an eventful year

Ultimately, the merger is the latest big change for Atlantic City in a year chock full of ups and downs.

2020 started on a high note, but the momentum came to an abrupt stop in mid-March. That’s when all nine casinos shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy closed AC casinos for 100-plus days. Many casino employees were either furloughed or laid off as a result, with casinos depending strictly on the strength of NJ online gambling.

It wasn’t until late June that good news arrived. Caesars reopened its three casinos on July 3; Tropicana did so a day earlier.

The Caesars-Eldorado merger, however, was always on the backburner. The initial news of the acquisition reverberated throughout the gambling industry.

It is essentially what sparked the sale of Bally’s in April. And will ultimately lead to improvements at some of Atlantic City’s oldest casinos.

Changes are afoot once again in Atlantic City.

At Long Last, Borgata Atlantic City Set To Reopen On July 26

The weekend before July Fourth was a big one in Atlantic City. That’s when Atlantic City’s casinos started to reopen. But not all of them. Borgata Atlantic City remained closed.

But by the end of the month, all nine casinos will have their doors open. Borgata AC has tabbed its reopening for July 26.

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Borgata reopening originally delayed

The decision to delay the reopening of Borgata stemmed from Gov. Phil Murphy’s walk-back of restarting indoor dining just before the holiday.

The change in dining forced the MGM-owned Borgata to break away from the other Atlantic City casinos and wait to open when they could offer guests a more complete experience.

“We feel it best that we remain closed until such time that the governor lets us know it is safe to offer food and beverage,” said MGM Resorts International in a June 29 statement.

Now, three weeks later, the Borgata plans to reopen to the public after a soft, invite-only opening.

“Following the governor’s directive to postpone indoor dining, we took a step back to reassess our reopening date to ensure we could give our guests the world-class experience they expect from us, safely,” said Melonie Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Borgata, in a press release.

Safety plan in place for Borgata reopening

The Borgata will be following the seven-point safety plan instituted by MGM at all of its properties.

The plan includes enhanced cleaning schedules, required masks for all guests and employees, temperature checks, and digital food and drink menus.

All Borgata employees will also have gone through COVID-19-specific training. The resort will also be following the state-mandated 25% capacity rule.

The casino’s Race & Sports Book will be open along with table games, but poker will be unavailable during this first phase.

Other changes for guests include:

  • Limited rooms available for reservations.
  • Disabling every other slot machine.
  • No eating, drinking or smoking inside.

The Borgata’s retail stores will also be open and self-parking will be available. But valet parking will not be offered during the reopening.

Borgata AC to offer improved takeout dining options

Like the other casinos in Atlantic City, the Borgata will not be able to offer guests indoor dining. But the casino instead has come up with multiple options that will please guests.

The Borgata has expanded its outdoor dining offerings to give guests more options. Besides its existing beer, the resort will be offering food and beer trucks along with the brand-new Sunbar at the Water Club, a hotel connected to the Borgata.

To help with social distancing, menus will be offered via QR code and guests will be notified that their table is ready via text messaging.

Another way that the resort will be offering guests food and drinks is through a new program called BorgataEATS. This new program allows both takeout and delivery orders to be made at the Borgata’s many eateries that guests can eat both in their room as well as at home.

In addition to BorgataEATS and the expanded outdoor dining, the resort will be offering 24/7 in-room service for hotel guests along with grab-and-go options from a store in the resort such as Borgata Baking Company, Starbucks and The Marketplace Eatery.

“When we reopen, Borgata will introduce new outdoor dining experiences, as well as a convenient takeout program from several of our fine and casual dining outlets,” Johnson said.

“We appreciate our guests’ and employees’ patience and understanding and look forward to welcoming them back.”

At long last, the top-performing Atlantic City casino will be up and running. Welcome back, Borgata.

What Are The Odds? New Jersey Sportsbooks Gear Up For The Return Of MLS

The odds are on the board at New Jersey sportsbooks for the MLS is Back Tournament. Who are the favorites? Depends on which book you look at.

Major League Soccer was just two weeks into its 25th season when the decision was made to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

League and team officials have been working to come up with a plan that would bring the season back in a way that is safe for players and exciting for fans.

The result of this is the MLS is Back Tournament, which will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando from July 8 to Aug. 11.

And NJ sports betting apps have the odds up and ready to roll.

How the MLS is Back Tournament works

The World Cup-style tournament will have all 26 MLS teams split into six groups, three per conference.

It features a continuous schedule of matches nearly every day, with games beginning at 9 a.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST. The majority of the matches are played in the evening.

The Eastern Conference will have one group of six and two groups of four. The Western Conference consists of three groups of four teams.

Each team will play three games. The top three teams from Group A and the top two teams from Groups B–F, plus the next three teams with the overall highest point totals, will advance to the Round of 16.

The winning team will get a slot in the CONCACAF Champions League. Each tournament game counts as a regular-season game, so the stakes are very high in this tournament.

MLS odds at NJ sportsbooks

Most New Jersey sportsbook apps have future odds for potential winners of the MLS is Back tournament.

We included odds from four NJ apps:

Here are a few of the teams that oddsmakers in NJ are predicting to be major players in the MLS tournament. All odds as of June 30.

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Los Angeles Football Club

Coming off of the best regular season in MLS history, the LAFC was poised to build off of that in 2020.

Led by reigning MVP Carlos Vela, the team was 1-0-1 before the shutdown and are the favorites.

The only real challenge in their group is their crosstown rivals LA Galaxy. With their depth plus having an experienced coach in Bob Bradley, it’s win or bust for the LAFC.

NJ sportsbooks have the LAFC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:

DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetSugarHouse
+350+500+500+350

Toronto Football Club

The Toronto FC are the defending Eastern Conference champions. They had a bit of luck during the break, as they got back midfielder Michael Bradley from injury with only two games missed.

Having Bradley back and a very easy group draw puts the Toronto FC in the driver’s seat.

NJ sportsbooks have the Toronto FC winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:

DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetSugarHouse
+900+1400+1400+900

Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders are the reigning MLS Cup champions, so they have recent experience with tournament play.

They will be playing in a weak group with FC Dallas, San Jose and Vancouver. They should cruise to the knockout stage.

It will be there where Seattle’s offense, led by Jordan Morris, will be needed for any chance to bring home the title.

NJ sports betting sites have the Seattle Sounders winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:

DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetSugarHouse
+1600+800+800+1600

Atlanta United

Since its inception just four years ago, Atlanta United has made an impact on the league and will be looking to continue the trend in this tournament.

However, they will be without star forward Josef Martinez, as he suffered a torn ACL during the early part of the season.

If they can get past a group that includes Eastern Conference mainstays Columbus and the New York Red Bulls, ATL can make a splash in the Round of 16.

Sportsbooks have Atlanta United winning the MLS is Back Tournament at:

DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetSugarHouse
+1100+750+900+1100

Gambling, Tourism Take Spotlight Ahead Of Planned Reopening Of Atlantic City Casinos

Atlantic City casinos have safety plans in place, and masks will be required indoors, but what other steps are there to keep tourists safe?

The shutdown of Atlantic City casinos due to the COVID-19 pandemic has already made an impact on the state.

AC’s nine casinos are forced to rely on just NJ online gambling to bring in any bit of income.

While online play has grown exponentially during the past three months, the casinos have seen an 86% year-over-year total income drop.

And it’s not just the casinos that are feeling the pain from this shutdown.  The state of New Jersey as a whole is taking a hit from the steep loss of tax revenue.

There are plenty of reasons to worry about the future of entertainment and tourism in the state, too.

And the big question boils down to safety.

How can Atlantic City, the state’s tourism hub, stay safe enough so that people want to travel there in the future?

NJ Assembly panel discusses tourism and COVID-19

To that end, a panel discussion was held in Trenton on June 25 where all of those concerns were addressed.

Casino representatives, along with people from the summer rental, live entertainment and tourism industries, met to discuss the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had so far and how they can keep visitors safe.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, chair of the state Assembly’s Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, shared the concerns that were raised during the meeting in a statement that said in part:

“Tourism and hospitality are vital industries in New Jersey, bringing in over 100 million visitors every year, producing (billions) of dollars in revenue and providing nearly 10 percent of the jobs throughout our state.”

Luckily for Atlantic City, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that casinos can reopen at 25% capacity on July 2. All patrons will have to wear a mask, and screenings will be done as well.

This news was followed on Monday by the governor canceling plans to reopen indoor dining on July 2.

Caputo went on to say that “Gaming and the arts have made significant contributions to our state’s culture and economy.” The state has a wide range of beaches, casinos, cuisine and more, but “all of these have been greatly impacted by COVID-19.”

‘Successful steps’ to keep casinos safe

New Jersey has been one of the more cautious states in regard to reopening places due to the pandemic.

State officials are not messing around about maintaining the downward trend of cases, even going as far as suing a city to prevent it from having indoor dining before it was approved.

Murphy shared some of those concerns during a radio station appearance.

“We’re spending a lot of time with the owners and operators as well as the workers and their representatives on casinos,” said Murphy to WOND’s ACMike Lopez.

“The bad news is casinos sort of have the attributes that are hardest to deal with this virus. It’s indoors, no ventilation. You’re sedentary, you’re in close proximity. Having said that, they’re big footprints, and we think there are successful steps that can be taken to address the challenges.”

State officials also saw what happened when Las Vegas opened up at the start of June without a mask order in place.

There was a sharp uptick in new COVID-19 cases. A required mask order went into effect last week.

AC casinos put safety plans in place

Some of Atlantic City’s casinos have already come forward with plans to ensure safety and cleanliness for visitors.

For example, Hard Rock Casino plans to use thermal cameras to check guests’ temperature. The casino also will space out slot machines and install plexiglass barriers for table games. All AC casinos plan to implement similar procedures.

When Hard Rock reopens on July 2, it will also have a new protocol called the Safe + Sound Clean Team. The team consists of 100 employees whose sole job is to deep clean all gaming surfaces, chips, hotel rooms, restaurants, pools and public areas.

Casinos will also be providing hand sanitizer stations on the casino floor along with enforcing the state’s mandates regarding masks and social distancing.

But these plans are all dependent on what guidelines the state and Division of Gaming Enforcement require of casinos, too. Those have yet to be made public.

Cashless gambling in Atlantic City?

Another, more innovative tactic that Atlantic City’s casinos could possibly employ is cashless gaming.

Just approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission this past week, cashless gaming would not only be a great way to help prevent COVID-19 spread but also would give players more options.

The new regulations approved by Nevada would allow players to withdraw or deposit money from table games and/or slot machines with a digital wallet such as PayPal, Venmo or Apple Pay.

This new method of “money handling” would drastically cut back on the use of chips by players, casino cashiers and dealers alike.

Implementing cashless gambling, however, is only one part of any plan to make Atlantic City safe for tourists. Safety plans and protocols, as well as following state guidelines, are essential to AC’s gambling future.

The fact remains, though, that the flow of tax revenue into the state’s coffers shrank while casinos were closed. Failing to bring Atlantic City back safely will deter visitors.

And if the pandemic worsens in NJ, casinos will likely shut down once more.

Lengthy Atlantic City Casino Shutdown Puts New Jersey In A Tough Position

It has been three months since Atlantic City casinos closed due to the pandemic. The loss of revenue and state taxes is extensive. What happens next?

The casinos of Atlantic City are now into their third month of being closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And the fiscal impact of being shut down is starting to rear its ugly head.

According to the last three monthly comparisons released by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, the nine Atlantic City casinos have made a combined $85.5 million in land-based revenue.

To put that into context, Borgata, the top-performing AC casino, posted $59.4 million in revenue in March 2019.

The loss of revenue has not only had an effect on the casinos but also on Atlantic City and the state as a whole.

The end result of such a prolonged casino closure is a decreased amount in taxes collected from casino revenues. Those taxes help fund various local and state projects.

Revenue, taxes at a standstill with AC casinos closed

To be fair, 2020 started off on a high note for casinos. Atlantic City casino revenue was enjoying a 21-month win streak.

So, it is no surprise that with no in-person bets and lights out, revenue for the state’s nine casinos has deteriorated.

In March through May of last year, casino win totaled $653.7 million.

In comparison, the casinos were open for just 16 days in March before temporarily closing. The result is that for March-May 2020, revenue had an 86% year-over-year drop.

Meanwhile, during March through May of last year, the state pulled in $47.9 million in taxes from casino revenue. (That number includes retail sports betting but excludes internet gaming tax, which did not shut down.)

During the same time period in 2020, the state collected only S6.1 million.

The drop almost certainly leaves a budget gap in New Jersey.

NJ online casinos pick up the pace

The one saving grace for the closed casinos in NJ during these trying times has been the growing number of people gambling online.

In the last three months, NJ online casinos earned $230.3 million, more than double the same time last year.

As a whole, that industry has yet to see a month-over-month decline in any year since its launch.

Posting three record-setting months in a row may not be the new normal. But it certainly helps when Atlantic City casinos are shut down.

A push to reopen Atlantic City casinos

Despite the major uptick in online gaming revenue, the growing losses at land-based casinos are a concern to the state’s top officials.

New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney sent out a tweet on June 13, calling for Gov. Phil Murphy to open up the casinos:

Taking a more cautious approach is Murphy, who is looking for a July Fourth opening for the casinos, something echoed by Atlantic City’s mayor, Marty Small Sr. 

To help stem the growing losses being suffered by the casinos, the state Senate passed an emergency relief bill on June 15.

The legislation gives the casinos interest-free loans along with temporary liftings of various taxes for the remainder of the year.

Bailout the casinos?

Concerns have been raised by state lawmakers over cutbacks to other programs Atlantic City needs in order to give the casinos a bailout.

But state senator Chris Brown, who co-authored the bill with Sweeney, feels differently. He considers this piece of legislation a necessary one to protect one of the state’s biggest attractions and revenue earners.

“My concern has been and remains with the families who overnight found themselves unemployed and left to deal with a broken unemployment system for the last three months,” Brown said.

“Working in a bipartisan manner, we took a step today toward saving 27,000 casino jobs while also assisting our small businesses so we can put our Atlantic County families back to work.”

What state officials, casino employees, and all those impacted by the shutdown can agree upon is that the sooner the casinos reopen the better.

A summer without the casinos would be a disastrous turn of events for the town and the state as a whole.