Can A New Manager Light A Fire Under The Phillies For A Short Season Of Wins?

DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have similar odds for the Philadelphia Phillies total wins for the shorter 2020 MLB season.

New Jersey bettors can start serious baseball handicapping.

First, major sportsbooks such as DraftKings and FanDuel released projected win totals for the novel 60-game season beginning July 23.

And on Wednesday night, DraftKings posted individual props for hitters to reach 20 home runs or pitchers to strike out 100 batters.

Watch the props list grow as we close in on Opening Day.

Baseball futures betting is a tricky, creative challenge this year. There are unusual factors, such as regional scheduling and the absence of a home-field edge because of no spectators.

There is a further loss of players who won’t compete because of coronavirus health concerns. Their absence may impact some teams’ win totals.

Nonetheless, we have a place to start. So let’s dive in.

MLB total wins odds at DraftKings, FanDuel

Both NJ online sportsbooks have the Los Angeles Dodgers at 37.5 victories, essentially the equivalent of a 101-win campaign. They have the same number for the New York Yankees.

Betting angle: Neither team can afford a slump or slow start for over bettors.

The Houston Astros come in at 35.5. The defending champion Washington Nationals are 33.5.

Betting angle: The Nationals have lost some key players.

The New York Mets, at 32.5 victories, and the Philadelphia Phillies, at 31.5, are expected to exceed .500.

Betting angle: Both teams will be playing the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and perhaps the Tampa Bay Rays fairly often.

It’s interesting that DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook have the same win totals. There are usually different spreads that give bettors the option to tailor wagers to where they find the best odds.

That’s likely because oddsmakers won’t move them to coax certain bets until they review all the implications of a compressed 60-game schedule.

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Phillies have a chance to improve

For gamblers, this is a nice time to review who’s actually on all these teams now. The offseason changed rosters.

And it’s been a long offseason.

Here are some considerations to bridge the 2019 season, the offseason and the beginning of the 2020 campaign.

The Phillies were a disappointing 81–81 last year. They are targeted for a slight improvement.

Phillies fans should consider the team’s aggressive offseason moves in the neighborhood of $133 million.

Those moves included nabbing:

  • Zack Wheeler, RHP
  • Didi Gregorius, SS
  • Tommy Hunter, RHP

Now add in a great manager. Joe Girardi, a no-nonsense, hard-nosed leader, has to be worth a couple of games of improvement by himself.

He has long been considered one of the best in the game and managed the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title.

These moves complement the 2019 acquisition of Bryce Harper for a multiyear commitment.

Speaking of the shortened season, the Phillies were 33–22 at one point last year, even while the bullpen cost them perhaps five games with blown leads.

The first half should have been much better, and the second half was just bad. Girardi can and probably will light a fire under this team.

NY Mets look good again

The New York Mets featured slugging newcomer Pete Alonso and won an impressive 86 games last year. Their total wins projection for the 2020 season is a slight downward trend.

The Mets added depth starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello. This helps the bottom of the rotation and would make them formidable if Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz stay healthy.

It’s been a big “if” in recent years.

New York also acquired former Yankee All-Star Dellin Betances, who often appeared unhittable as an eighth-inning reliever. He did not handle ninth-inning stress well, however, as the closer and has been recovering from an injury.

Bet the over with the Yankees

The Yankees won a whopping 103 games in 2019, and their total is slightly lower proportionately this year.

They picked up pitching star Gerrit Cole in the offseason. That was a great move but will only matter for about 37% of a regular season.

Nonetheless, the Cole move makes the Yankees’ over number more attainable.

The Yankees obtained a pitcher with 326 strikeouts and a 2.64 earned-run average last year. He was the prize catch of the offseason and joins Luis Severino, James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka to create a formidable staff.

New York fans already planned a postseason World Series parade, but not so fast. Both Severino and Tanaka are fighting back from injuries.

Seasonal-win props have a fun and useful second betting purpose.

Many teams come within a few games of their projected victory totals. That helps single-game wagers, as bettors can determine which teams are trending way ahead or behind their trajectories and bet accordingly.

Can Alonso ‘Re-Pete?’: Mets slugger highlights prop board

A New York Met and New York Yankee now own the National League and American League rookie home-run records.

Alonso slugged 53 for the Mets last year, surpassing Yankee Aaron Judge’s 52 as the most in history for rookies.

Alonso headlines the new DraftKings prop regarding the 20-homer plateau in this shortened season. He is at +250 to reach the mark, which equates to a 53-homer full season.

Mike Trout is +300, Giancarlo Stanton is +300, Cody Bellinger is +400 and Joey Gallo is +145.

Star pitchers seek triple figures in 60 games

The 100-strikeout pitching prop equals about 264 over a full season.

Cole is -121, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer are +115, and deGrom is +145.

This bet depends entirely on how you believe the pitchers will be used.

Will they be allowed to go deeper into games because the season is shorter? Or will they be eased into the season with strict pitch-count limits because they have not been pitching since the fall?

To enhance the betting spirit, both New Jersey sportsbooks put up one more recent line.

The Yankees are -136 against the Nationals (+112) on Opening Day. FanDuel has the Yankees at -128 and the Nationals at +110.

And it’s Cole vs Scherzer.

Let’s play ball!

Monmouth, Meadowlands Prep For Reopening Racetracks To Eager Horse Betting Fans

Two of New Jersey’s racetracks, Monmouth and Meadowlands, will reopen to fans on July 2. And just like Atlantic City casinos, there are safety procedures.

For the first time this summer, New Jersey bettors will have two live tracks open.

While the Meadowlands harness racing program continues Friday and Saturday at 7:15 p.m., the big news of the week is the return of Monmouth Park.

The storied Oceanport facility opens its 75th live-racing thoroughbred campaign on Friday, July 3.

New Jersey online bettors can access the action at 4NJBETS, powered by TVG. They can also attend the track, which is operating at 25% capacity.

It is likely the track will still accommodate several thousand fans most days, but details on live attendance are still being worked out.

Here is an overview of Monmouth Park operations for bettors and the public, broken into a couple of areas.

Know before you go: Health and safety guidelines at Monmouth

The track released a set of protocols on Monday for fans attending the track.

Parking and admission will be free every day. That does not include TVG.com Haskell Day on July 18. Haskell ticketing details will be announced in the coming days.

All fans must enter through either the main Grandstand or Clubhouse entrances. Advanced tickets are not required.

Prior to entry, all in attendance will receive a health check screening consisting of a temperature check and brief health questionnaire. Masks are required to enter.

There will be no outside food or beverage of any kind allowed in during the 2020 racing season.

Speaking of food, the track received some unexpected bad news Monday on the indoor dining front.

Gov. Phil Murphy paused the resumption of statewide indoor dining scheduled to start Thursday. Murphy cited coronavirus spikes in other states.

Monmouth has an indoor-outdoor restaurant, Blu Grotto, which will presumably only be able to utilize its outdoor operation. Like many COVID-19 regulations, this one is subject to change later.

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What about the William Hill sportsbook?

Monmouth Park will open its gates to fans at 11 a.m. daily starting Thursday, July 2.

That’s when simulcasting wagering and the William Hill Sports Book will be available for the first time since the track was shut down on March 16. The sportsbook will be following all guidelines in terms of capacity limits and social distancing.

Oceanport Centennial Stakes kicks off at Monmouth

At Monmouth, the live horse racing season begins Friday and runs through Sept. 27.

It will operate on a Fri-Sun schedule, with the Friday first post at 5 p.m. (except Sept. 4 – 12:50 pm). Saturday and Sunday posts will be 12:50 pm, except the Haskell, July 18, when the first race goes at noon.

Friday’s card will be headlined by the initial running of the $75,000 Oceanport Centennial Stakes.

Awesome Anywhere, who dominated in a starter allowance race at Oaklawn Park on March 1, will be the most noted of eight older horses.

Awesome Anywhere shook off a contentious early pace and captured the six-furlong March 1 event in a blazing 1:08.76. His jockey on Friday, Paco Lopez, has six riding titles at Monmouth Park.

The training title will be the most wide-open in several years. Jorge Navarro, who won seven straight crowns, will not return. Nor will Jason Servis, who often finished second to Navarro.

They were both indicted for alleged doping of horses in March. Although they have pleaded not guilty to federal charges, neither is allowed to race here for the foreseeable future.

Six trainers stabled on the grounds have a Monmouth training title to their credit. The list includes:

  • Kelly Breen
  • Jane Cibelli
  • Tim Hills
  • Bruce Alexander
  • Dan Lopez
  • Ben Perkins Jr.

Bettors should keep a keen eye on horses entered by those trainers. Breen and Jose Delgado are the two leading returnees from 2019. Breen won more than $1 million in earnings and Delgado more than $600,000 last year.

Delgado was a sizzling 51-81 in the money last year. This is important for gamblers who bet heavily across the board or key horses in trifecta and superfecta wagers.

Haskell excitement builds

The nominations list for the $1 million Haskell indicates the making of a strong field. There were, as of Monday, 33 nominations for a race that may have one-third of that total at the starting gate.

Santa Anita Derby runner-up Authentic is one of three runners nominated from Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. Cezanne and Uncle Chuck are the others.

Baffert has won the Haskell Invitational a record eight times, doing so in 2015 (American Pharoah), 2014 (Bayern), 2012 (Paynter), 2011 (Coil), 2010 (Lookin at Lucky), 2005 (Roman Ruler), 2002 (War Emblem) and 2001 (Point Given).

Bettors will recognize a few other names in the Haskell portfolio. Several just ran in the Belmont Stakes.

Dr. Post, who finished second, is nominated. So is Max Player, who came in third. Tap it to Win, who led that race until the final turn before fading, is on the list.

The Belmont also produced Pneumatic, who ran fourth, and Sole Volante, a disappointing sixth, in the Haskell nominations field.

In major races, owners pay an initial fee to nominate a horse. They will pay a second fee close to the time of the race if they decide to actually enter their horse in the event.

Factors influencing that decision include whether a more preferable race has opened up and how the horse is training.

What to expect at the Meadowlands

The Meadowlands, on the other hand, has had live racing at its track since May. The only difference now is it can let fans back in at 25% capacity.

Here’s an update from the Meadowlands on Twitter:

Guests can order from a waitress and eat and drink outside on the apron tables as long as there are six feet of social distancing between parties.

Outdoor dining will resume on Friday and Saturday nights for live racing.

The FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands also reopens this week, with all the proper social distancing measures in place.

Horse racing at the Big M: best bets

The Meadowlands continues its live racing schedule Friday and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. While its well-known drivers have done well, a couple of new forces to be reckoned with emerged last weekend.

Keep your eyes on Andrew McCarthy.

He secured four winners Saturday, all well-priced. Two of them paid 6-1, one returned 9-1 and a fourth was 23-1. Quite a night for anyone with a McCarthy angle.

David Miller, whom we’ve mentioned before as an overlooked veteran star, secured three wins Saturday.

The Big M has also run true to form with top drivers Dexter Dunn, Yannick Gingras, and Tim Tetrick getting their share of victories.

Tetrick, in fact, won last Friday with favored Odds on Sarasota. When longshot Duck N Roll finished second, the exacta paid $251.

The Meadowlands pattern has been one of the top drivers performing well and some races producing nice, surprisingly-good payouts.

Borgata Atlantic City Ready To Welcome Guests Back After July Fourth Weekend

Bucking the trend of most Atlantic City casinos, Borgata will reopen to the public on July 6. In the meantime, it is prepping the casino and sportsbooks.

The comeback is underway, as companies and casinos are returning one step at a time. Borgata Atlantic City became the latest to weigh in on resumption plans on Tuesday.

One day after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy blessed a July 2 reopening for casinos, Borgata indicated it would use the first dates for special guests and open to the public on July 6.

Reservations will also be accepted for July 6 and beyond though at last look the reservation system had yet to be updated.

And as is the case for all casinos in Atlantic City, Borgata is only allowed a 25% capacity.

What Borgata’s July 6 opening will look like

Borgata’s safety plan, which had been well established and waiting for Murphy’s green light, springs into action.

It includes:

  • Screening, temperature checks, and employee training.
  • Mandatory masks and personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • Six-foot physical distancing policy will be in place, wherever feasible.
  • Hand-washing and enhanced sanitization.
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning controls and air quality.
  • Incident response protocols.
  • Digital innovations.

When it comes to the casino, every other slot machine will be disabled in an effort to encourage physical distancing.

Many table games will have polycarbonate barriers installed as well. Poker will also not be available at first.

In fact, Borgata announced the cancellation of:

  • MGM Resorts East Coast Poker Tour
  • Borgata Summer Poker Open
  • Borgata Poker Open
  • WPT Borgata Poker Open Championship

There will be standalone handwashing stations located along the casino floor, polycarbonate barriers where physical distancing is difficult, and digital menus at restaurants that can be accessed by scanning QR codes.

The Borgata is also engaging in increased and enhanced cleaning procedures.

Murphy indicated Monday that safety measures will be strictly enforced. Anyone refusing to comply will have to leave.

What about the Borgata sportsbooks?

Ramifications spread beyond health considerations.

NJ sports betting fans keenly await two developments: the reopening of the racebook and bar endeared to the hearts of every gambler: Moneyline.

The racebook is a state-of-the-art facility with individual televisions, large screens, self-service kiosks, and tellers. It is one of the finest places to watch horse racing on the East Coast.

Horse-racing enthusiasts hope it is back up and running in time to handle action for the July 18 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park.

The Moneyline Bar & Book is a nightlife extension of the gambling vision. The 8,000-square-foot space opened officially last summer and features a 40-foot wide LED video wall and six betting windows.

Like all sportsbooks, they have been affected by unfinished seasons, which affect betting. But pro sports are in the works for making a comeback in July.

Add that with 100+ days of closed AC casinos, and it is no surprise the books will be a prime attraction during the reopening.

How do you get a bet refund at Borgata?

Customers who have placed bets on an individual or upcoming game and/or event that is ultimately canceled or one that has already been canceled will receive a full refund.

For bets placed at Moneyline Bar & Book or the Race & Sports Book at Borgata, guests can bring their bet slips back to either location upon reopening to receive a refund.

Tickets can also be redeemed by mail. The instructions and mailing address appears on the backside of wagering tickets.

For bets placed within the BetMGM or Borgata Sports mobile NJ betting apps, customers have already been refunded for games that have already been canceled.

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Mlife Rewards benefits changes and updates

Customer loyalty program plans reflect Borgata’s intent to continue benefits.

Mlife Rewards tier status earned in 2019 and 2020 will be extended through January 2022.

Borgata also is changing the earning year to Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 from what’s historically been Oct. 1 – Sept. 30. This extends the benefits three additional months and makes it easier to track the calendar earning year.

Certain Mlife Rewards offers such as promotions, events, and entertainment will expire or be canceled during the time the property was closed. They will be rescheduled.

Borgata has also suspended Points and Express Comps expirations through Sept. 30, 2020.

How long before casinos are open at full capacity? That’s TBD

Soon, Atlantic City’s biggest revenue winner will reopen and the slots will once again sing on the Borgata casino floor.

And soon, the real sports betting will resume.

In that light-hearted spirit, here’s some conjecture with hypothetical odds on the next operations phase.

Will Murphy extend casinos from 25% availability to 50% or higher before the end of July? Practically even money.

Murphy is meticulous, yet also aware that Atlantic City casinos could secure a substantial rebound with a higher percentage capacity. More people back to work. More tax revenues. He wants that.

The unspoken sentiment from his Monday briefing was: Don’t mess this up and there will be more good news.

I’m betting yes for the extension, with an announcement during the third week.

New Jersey Racetracks Open Gates For Fans July 2 And That Includes Sports Betting

Atlantic City casinos aren’t the only gambling halls reopening July 2. Meadowlands, Monmouth and Freehold will be open at 25% capacity on July 2, too.

New Jersey racetracks are on a roll.

Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands (as well as Freehold Raceway) have been green-lighted to take live bets starting July 2 by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The racetracks can take bets in-person at their sportsbooks and lounges as long as they follow gathering limits, Murphy said.

And just like Atlantic City casinos, the racetracks can operate at 25% capacity.

Here’s more from Monmouth’s Twitter account:

The timing could not be better for Monmouth, which opens its delayed live-racing season on July 3. By the time the Haskell Invitational dawns on July 18, the attendance capacity may be increased.

It’s also welcome news for the Meadowlands, a harness racing institution that runs Friday and Saturday nights.

The track conducted a nearly-unheard of 18-race card last Saturday and cleared a $4 million all-source handle, according to track officials. The Meadowlands exceeded $7.5 million handle for the weekend.

That’s WITHOUT spectators. Imagine what might occur now.

The COVID-19 crossover

For both tracks, Murphy’s announcement means allowing several thousand spectators on the properties under social distancing protocols.

The measure ensures jobs for employees at those facilities, along with revenue from food, beverage, and handle.

There’s a silver lining in the pandemic cloud, too.

Since March, even more bettors have become familiar — and comfortable — with online wagering. They bet on tracks throughout the country from inside of New Jersey.

That will carry forward into betting on their apps at live events.

If track patrons see long lines in front of a teller or automated machine, they can turn their phones into a handheld bookie and avoid getting shut out.

New Jersey residents can bet on horses via 4NJBETS, powered by TVG. For all other sports, there are 17 legal NJ sports betting apps to choose from including William Hill and FanDuel Sportsbook.

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NJ sportsbooks open at racetracks, too

Speaking of which, both racetracks feature large sportsbooks on property. FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands is consistently the breadwinner of the NJ betting industry.

And the Monmouth Park Sportsbook by William Hill was the first retail book to open in 2018.

The return of fans means those retail sportsbooks will be open as well. Of course, social distancing and limited capacity rules will be in place. And additional details are forthcoming.

Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development LLC, operators of Monmouth, said in a press release:

“We know our fans are as eager to return to Monmouth Park as we are to have them back.”

Monmouth Park’s million-dollar move

Monmouth Park hits the racing spotlight for New Jersey bettors as its live-season approaches.

The track made additional news last week by announcing a $1 million bonus for any horse that sweeps its July 18 Haskell Invitational Stakes, the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby, and the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

The $1 million Haskell will be contested for the 53rd time. The $3 million Kentucky Derby has been re-scheduled from its traditional first Saturday in May slot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $7 million Breeders’ Cup Classic was originally scheduled for the fall, and its Nov. 7 date at Keeneland remains intact.

In 2015, American Pharoah swept the three races en route to his Horse of the Year title.

Linking the Haskell with those events is a smart move for Monmouth Park.

Unlike in past years, the Haskell’s positioning within the major-race structure is uncertain.

The Haskell Invitational normally lures the nation’s top horses with its high purse and ideal placement between the Belmont Stakes and the fall-racing season.

But the Belmont ran two weeks later than normal in 2020. It’s Saturday winner, Tiz the Law, will be entered in a later race, the Aug. 8 Travers at Saratoga, instead of the Haskell.

That’s why Monmouth made a shrewd move by dangling a bonus throughout the Haskell, Kentucky Derby, and Breeders Cup races. The track will likely draw at least a couple additional top horses to its signature race.

New Jersey’s role in historic bonus concept

The 1985 Haskell involved a horse that shook up the horse-racing industry, forcing it to employ at Triple Crown bonus.

The horse didn’t even win the Haskell, but he was the Horse of the Year. His name? Spend a Buck.

Here’s what happened. In 1985, the new Garden State Park announced a four-race bonus worth $2 million.

Any horse winning the Cherry Hill Mile and Garden State Stakes in April, the Kentucky Derby in early May, and then the Jersey Derby on Memorial Day would gain the lucrative prize.

It was utterly improbable to capture four significant races in seven weeks. This was considered a nice publicity stunt, garnering attention for the new track.

But then Spend a Buck won the first three legs of the challenge. After he won the Kentucky Derby, Spend a Buck’s handlers did what racing officials considered unthinkable. They skipped the Preakness in favor of the Jersey Derby.

The racing world was aghast.

Spend a Buck’s handlers were called every name under the sun. A Kentucky Derby winner had snubbed the Preakness in an age when the Triple Crown WAS racing. (There had only been one Breeders Cup then).

Spend a Buck gets a race named after him at Monmouth

Spend a Buck went on to win the Jersey Derby, collected the Garden State bonus, and became an Eclipse Award winner in 1985. His handlers had made the correct call.

When did his run of luck end? At Monmouth Park, in the Haskell.

Spend a Buck finished second to Skip Trial and was never a prominent horse again. But he remained important at Monmouth, which named a stakes race for him.

The racing world ultimately launched a bonus for horses with the most points over the three Triple Crown races. That was designed to ensure owners entered the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

In 1987, another New Jersey racing official — Atlantic City Race Course owner Bob Levy — won that bonus with his horse Bet Twice.

Meadowlands going great guns

The Big M, one of the nation’s premier harness-racing facilities, continues to maximize its compact race schedule.

Its seven-figure handle and big fields indicate the backlog of available horses.

And the Meadowlands supplied a whopping first-race payday Saturday.

Ideal Son, at nearly 40-1, shocked the field. The Mighty Marner, Power Dreaming N, and Run One Over N completed the first-four order of finish.

The $1 superfecta paid $23,224.50. The $2 exacta was $992 and the $1 trifecta was $4,245.

There is no way to believe that one could have logically nailed that superfecta. But a good betting nugget going forward is to note the conditions.

This was a small claiming level purse of $3,500, a 12-horse field, and a tepid favorite, according to the track handicappers.

Combine those factors and you at least know the underlying conditions leading to a big payout. Then, maybe, you get lucky.

The Big M returns Friday and Saturday at 7:15 p.m.

At Long Last, Atlantic City Casinos Are Reopening, But It’s Not So Simple

Atlantic City casinos got the OK to reopen on July 2 at 25% capacity, but like all things in New Jersey right now, reopening is not so cut and dry.

For Atlantic City casinos, forced to close March 16 until further notice due to the coronavirus, further notice has come.

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that Atlantic City’s nine casinos can reopen to gamblers on July 2 with 25% capacity limits.

On the same day, spectators can place live wagers at horse-racing facilities.  This comes just in time for Monmouth Park’s July 3 delayed live-meet opening.

Atlantic City casinos prep for reopening

The ability to open before the holiday weekend and take live bets has been considered crucial for the track’s ability to survive.

Casinos, meanwhile, plan their re-emergence from a 107-day COVID-19 shutdown, which crippled second-quarter financial results.

Thousands of layoffs and millions of dollars in lost revenue have occurred during this period, although NJ online gaming revenues have increased.

The state has lost close to $20 million in direct tax revenue, according to industry estimates. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

“Thousands of New Jerseyans can now get back to work,” Murphy said on Monday. He added that the casino industry’s offer to partner with the state to assist in contact-tracing data impacted the decision to re-open.

Some casinos may only open for “friends, family and loyal customers” on July 2 to test the new protocols, Murphy said.

Borgata Atlantic City confirmed via a press release on Tuesday that it would not open to the public until July 6.

Indoor dining limits at statewide restaurants will also be 25% capacity, Murphy indicated, but he was optimistic that those percentages would increase before long. The percentage extends to casino restaurants.

Health guidelines at AC casinos will be strictly enforced

Although health-related protocols are not finalized, Murphy told casino visitors to expect mandatory health-screening, mask-wearing, and density limits inside.

He said the measures will be strictly enforced.

“I hate to even say this, but if any visitor refuses to comply with these simple safeguards, the person will be escorted out of the casino. We are not going to tolerate any knuckleheads for the people who are enjoying themselves responsibly and for the people who need to get back to work.”

Atlantic City casino executives and some area mayors have spoken regularly with Murphy over the last couple of months. They have offered safety measures designed to help re-start business and gaming operations.

Regarding contact tracing, for example, casino players are rated. Properties have databases that can provide information on a majority of their players to state officials.

Based on the pace of announcements, the casino industry appears to be leading the enhanced health effort rather than reacting to regulations.

Murphy cited the partnership between gaming and state officials Monday, saying “the conversations with our friends in the casino industry will continue.”

Hard Rock AC, other casinos release safety plans early

Casinos in Atlantic City have been slowly releasing safety procedures since May.

Borgata and its parent company MGM announced a seven-point safety plan and Resorts installing air purifiers throughout its property.

Hard Rock Atlantic City released some of its mandatory policies ahead of Monday’s announcement. It includes:

  • Mandated masks (guests + team members)
  • Temperature check (guests + team members)
  • A new Safe + Sound Clean Team
  • Increased quality of air circulation
  • AtlantiCare partnership focused on contact tracing, training, telehealth and more

We’re delighted to get the reopening date,” said Joe Lupo, president of the Hard Rock casino.

“We thank the governor that we’ll be able to be open for the July Fourth weekend to meet the demand on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.”

Late Monday afternoon, Ocean Casino Resort sent a media advisory regarding its iconic rooftop ball. It will be utilized as a countdown starting Monday at dusk and running through July 1.

This means July 2 is New Year’s Day number 2 in 2020.

Up and down the Boardwalk, casino receptionists enthusiastically greeted callers, providing more general information than normal to inquiries.

There is a sense of rebirth similar to the opening of a casino property.

Reading between the lines

Given Murphy’s hope for dining capacity to increase, coupled with the conversation’s casino officials have with him, it’s reasonable to believe the operational capacity will expand sooner rather than later.

But Murphy maintained a cautious approach Monday, reminding people “to use common sense for the common good.”

He noted that New Jersey’s social distancing measures, forcing the shutdown of the industry and Garden State businesses, had been worthwhile.

“We had the pain of discipline, not the pain of regret,” Murphy said.

Two significant pieces of data drove the re-opening announcement, Murphy said.

New Jersey’s positive test rate for COVID-19 was 2.42%, a number that had been “at least five or six times higher” in recent months.

The new spread rate is 0.76%, he said. That means for every positive test, there is less than one new case.

But Murphy also said people may be letting their guards down too much and should maintain social distancing protocols.

‘The middle part of the second phase’

On Monday, New Jersey pools, barbershops, salons, and tattoo parlors reopened with COVID-19 restrictions. Murphy called Monday the middle part of the second phase of reopening from coronavirus closures.

As expected on Monday, the restriction on outdoor gatherings increased to 250 people and indoor gatherings are capped at 100 or 25% capacity.

It’s uncertain how casinos will vary their use of 25%. Rooms, for example, are not likely going to be 100% available for reservations.

It’s also not known how restaurants on casino grounds that are not owned by the casino count toward its percentage of space.

Gaming officials hope that won’t be a consideration for too long. And that the next “further notice” will signal expanded operations.

NASCAR, UFC And Soccer At NJ Sportsbooks: It’s What To Bet On This Weekend

The PGA Tour RBC Heritage golf tournament is in full swing, but don’t let that stop you from betting on NASCAR’s Geico 500 or Saturday’s UFC fight.

In early May, gamblers were starved for live events.

Now there’s a stacked weekend lineup for New Jersey online betting, regardless of what occurs in other sports.

A new niche — NASCAR, UFC and soccer, primarily Bundesliga — has emerged via consistent event scheduling since mid-May.

The English Premier League is back and will spike soccer action, too.

Yes, we know that the PGA Tour is back in action with the RBC Heritage golf tournament in full swing. But let’s look beyond golf betting to a busy slate of betting options ahead.

So without further ado, here’s what to bet on this weekend in New Jersey.

NASCAR Geico 500 betting in NJ

NASCAR holds its ninth Cup Series event since returning May 17.

The Geico 500 occurs Sunday at 3 p.m. on Fox from Talladega Speedway in Alabama.

The top drivers have been consistently in the money, with victories spread around.

For this week, at DraftKings Sportsbook (all odds as of June 18):

Chase Elliott, who has been consistent since NASCAR resumed a month ago, is the co-favorite.

Elliott is +900 to win, +275 for a top 3 finish.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have the same numbers.

Denny Hamlin is +1000 to win and +300 for the top 3.

Ryan Blaney is +1200 and +350 for the top 3.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. is 16-1 and +450 for the top 3.

Head-to-head prop matchups are also popular. Kyle Busch vs Kevin Harvick is -115 either way.

Busch, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champ, has been underperforming relative to his odds. He was favored in the first set of NASCAR return races but hasn’t been in the top tier.

He’s becoming more of an underdog, reflecting recent performance.

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Top car manufacturer driver odds

The top manufacturer provides a betting sideshow. It’s a race inside the race, with one selecting the best individual Chevy, Ford, or Toyota driver.

Elliott is +350 as the top Chevy driver at Talladega.

Keselowski and Logano are both +400 to head the Ford group. Harvick, interestingly, is +650.

Hamlin is +175 and Busch +225 for Toyota. Martin Truex Jr. is + 325.

At FanDuel, backers of Keselowski and Elliott find them at +1000, along with Hamlin and Logano. More wagering possibilities may arrive on that site closer to race time.

The shuffling NASCAR leaderboard

The standings for the top drivers are bunched. The leaders have been dependable for the bettors as Top 10 wagers.

  • Harvick leads the way with 463 points.
  • Elliott holds second with 455.
  • Logano is third with 434.

Keselowski has 412 for fourth. He has been a pleasant surprise for bettors, relative to his odds since the circuit returned. Keselowski has been paying well.

Blaney is fifth with 411 points.

Elliott shows the way with five stages led, while Alex Bowman has four. Logano and Hamlin have three apiece.

This wager comes into view at PlaySugarHouse.com. The online book has the prop of any driver to win both stage 1 and 2 as +650 for yes and -1430 for no.

In the eight NASCAR competitions since the return of May 17, this is how the top drivers have fared:

  • Harvick — 2 wins
  • Hamlin — 2 wins
  • Keselowski — 2 wins
  • Elliott —  1 win

Martin Truex Jr. has 1 win. And New Jersey roots.

He grew up in Stafford Township, graduated Southern Regional High School in 1998, and is the son of Martin Truex Sr., a former race winner in the Busch North Series.

Truex Martin Jr. began his racing career driving go-karts at the New Egypt Speedway.

UFC: Another week, another card

The UFC has cranked out show after show since May 9. And NJ online gambling sites are pretty pleased with the betting turnout.

The next installment on Saturday features heavyweight Curtis Blaydes as a prohibitive favorite (-440 and rising) as he opposes Alexander Volkov (+320) at FanDuel, as of Thursday.

The prelims begin at 6 p.m., the main card at 9 p.m., available at ESPN +.

Blaydes is ranked number three in the heavyweight division and Volkov is seventh, yet the odds remain large.

Blaydes also is prohibitive on the win line at -455 at DraftKings.

Bettors will have to survey the angles to find a wager here.

If you like to play off of what the board suggests, the bout is -430 to go the distance at FanDuel.

Combine Blaydes’ big odds and the over-under distance and the early bettors expect at KO/TKO for Blaydes. He is -140 for that at FanDuel.

But if you want to try and guess the round, he is +280 for round one, +500 for round two, and +900 for round three.

Volkov backers will seek the moneyline, but may take a prop stab with him being +1300 for round one, +1300 for round 2 and +3600 for round three victories.

Blaydes has been a buzzsaw against anyone not named Francis Ngannou, who has beaten him twice.

Otherwise, Blaydes has won eight of his last nine, including a triumph over world-ranked Alistair Overeem. He comes off a second-round TKO of Junior dos Santos in January.

Volkov is less experienced in the UFC at 5-1. He scored a decision win over Greg Hardy in November.

Other events in UFC on Saturday

The co-main event is a featherweight showdown between No. 8 Josh Emmett and No. 10 Shane Burgos. Despite the lower ranking, Burgos is listed at -143 and Emmett +115 at DraftKings.

Three other fights mark the main card. Raquel Pennington is -170 vs Marion Reneau, +138, at DraftKings.

Belal Muhammad is -144 vs Lyman Good +118, at FanDuel.

Roosevelt Roberts is -240 at both books against Jim Miller, who ranges between +195 and +192.

Soccer betting variety pack

English Premier League is back!

What you need to know is that it’s Liverpool and then everybody else in this 20-team soccer pack. What’s more difficult is finding value at NJ sportsbooks.

When Liverpool plays, it usually lays close to -200 and opponents are often +400 and up.

In Bundesliga, Bayern Munich has won eight straight titles. It takes on Freiburg on Saturday.

RB Leipzig and Dortmund, the second and third best teams, are in action Saturday.

All games are at 9:30 a.m. FS1 carries Bayern-Munich and FS2 has RB Leipzig-Dortmund.

And of course, for all the events listed above (including the PGA Tour), there are no spectators. Don’t expect to hear the roar of the crowd.