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!

Where To Eat At Atlantic City Casinos When They Reopen Sans Indoor Dining

Indoor dining is not an option at Atlantic City casinos, but takeout options and outdoor seating are available. Here’s what’s on the menu for dining.

Atlantic City casinos are reopening today but without indoor dining.

However, that doesn’t mean the casinos lack eating or drinking options. In fact, most have outdoor dining available. Restaurants also provide takeout options in some cases.

If you’re heading to the Jersey Shore this weekend and plan to visit one of the eight Atlantic City casinos that are reopening, here’s a primer on the dining options available.

And if you’re curious about parking, we note a few details there, too.

Borgata, of course, will remain closed until further notice. Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s plan to reopen July 3.

Keep in mind that it is prohibited to eat, drink or smoke inside AC casinos when they reopen, per the guidelines released by the state earlier this week. There are only a few exceptions on that front.

Masks are required indoors, and social distancing measures will be enforced.

To that end, here’s what we know about dining options and gambling updates from AC casinos reopening this week.

Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s

The three Caesars properties are waiting a day before opening to the public again.

The three casino hotels do have options for dining, of course, once they reopen. Take a look:

Caesars AC

  • Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill (takeout)
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse (takeout)
  • Nero’s Starlight Dining (takeout, outdoor dining, pool deck)
  • Tazza (takeout)
  • Beachside Bar (outdoor dining)

Bally’s AC

  • Dunkin Donuts (takeout)
  • Guy’s Bar-B-Que Joint (outdoor dining)
  • Guy’s Rooftop Chop (outdoor deck dining)
  • Harry’s Oyster Bar (outdoor dining)
  • Johnny Rockets (outdoor dining)
  • Sac O’ Subs (takeout)
  • Walt’s Primo Pizza (takeout)
  • Bally’s Beach Bar (outdoor dining)
  • Boardwalk Saloon (takeout)

Harrah’s Resort AC

  • AC Burger Co. On the Baywalk (outdoor bar)
  • Cafe Tazza (takeout)
  • Coastal Craft Kitchen & Bar (outdoor dining, pool deck)
  • Gordon Ramsay Steak Under The Stars (al fresco dining located at the Outdoor Pool Bar)
  • Martorano’s (takeout)
  • Pin-Up Pizza (takeout)
  • Starbucks (takeout)

Golden Nugget Atlantic City

Golden Nugget plans to reopen at 6:01 a.m.

Slots will operate 24 hours a day, and table games will close from 4 a.m. to noon daily. The poker room at Golden Nugget will be closed.

The Deck will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner starting Friday, July 3. The Deck will also be available for to-go orders. Its hours of operation are as follows:

  • Breakfast: 8 a.m. to noon (Sun-Thurs)
  • Lunch/Dinner: Noon to 8 p.m. (Sun-Thurs), noon to 10 p.m. (Fri-Sat)

The casino notes that, depending on demand and capacity limitations, it may implement Open Table to allow guests to make reservations. And of course, all dining is outdoors.

Coffee will be made available for sale at The Deck, too.

Here are a few other reopening details:

  • Room service will be available for hotel guests from noon to midnight daily with a modified menu.
  • Essentials will be open 24 hours and will offer packaged liquor and to-go food items for guests to take to their room or off property.
  • The Pool and H20 will be open for registered hotel guests daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Food and beverages will be available outdoors.
  • 24 Karat will be open Thursday, 12 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 1 to 11 p.m.; and Sunday and Monday, 12 to 8 p.m. The Casino Cage will handle all 24 Karat transactions when 24 Karat is closed.
  • Valet parking will not be available at this time. Valet may be used for drop-off and pickup only. But there is still free self-parking for all guests.

Hard Rock Atlantic City

Like Golden Nugget, Hard Rock AC will reopen at 6 a.m.

Outdoor dining will be available at the following Hard Rock locations:

  • Hard Rock Beach Bar
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Sugar Factory 

There are several takeout options, too. The restaurants that will be open for takeout include:

  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • YOUYU Noodle Bar
  • Sugar Factory
  • Flavor Tour’s six concepts

For hotel guests, room service will be available. And effective Monday, July 6, the brand-new restaurant Fish & Co. and the Balcony Bar will be available exclusively to hotel guests. 

As far as parking goes, Wild Card Rewards members receive complimentary self-parking seven days a week. And that won’t change.

Valet and self-parking are still available as well. Valet attendants, however, will be wearing PPE, and enhanced sanitation measures will be in full effect.

As a side note, the casino will be celebrating its second anniversary with a giveaway that includes two grand prizes of a two-night stay (valid Sunday-Thursday), $200 dining credit and $200 in free play.

Additional prizes include:

  • Second-Place Prizes (five winners): One-night stay valid Sunday–Thursday, $100 dining credit, $100 in free play.
  • Third-Place Prizes (25 winners): An overnight stay valid Sunday–Thursday.
  • Fourth-Place Prizes (50 winners): $50 in free play.

To participate, visit the Hard Rock Atlantic City website.

Ocean Casino

Ocean Casino Resort will reopen at 8 a.m.

Some, but not all, amenities and dining options will be accessible when the AC casino reopens.

First off, the food and beer trucks will be available for reopening weekend. This includes Bites + Brews and a few local favorites. The food trucks will be setting up shop at the Boardwalk entrance from noon to 9 p.m.

Takeout dining will be offered at the following Ocean Casino restaurants:

  • Board Wok
  • District Grill
  • Cafe 500
  • Frose Coffee Bar
  • Lobby Brew
  • Harper’s
  • Pit Boss
  • Rocco’s Italian Kitchen
  • Seaside Deli
  • Scoops
  • Simply Salads
  • The Grind
  • Zhen Bang
  • Wahlburgers

Outdoor bar areas located in the O2 area adjacent to the Hotel Lobby, Sky Garden, pool areas and Boardwalk Brow are also open.

Three pools on the property are set to reopen, including Eclipse Pool and Poseidon. The Boardwalk Pool’s reopening is on hold for the time being, but is billed as “coming soon.”

Exhale Spa will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, the saunas, steam, rooms, Jacuzzis and pool are temporarily closed. Bangz Salon + Blow Dry Lounge will reopen on July 16.

Tropicana AC

Tropicana Atlantic City plans to reopen its doors at 8 a.m.

When it does reopen, Tropicana’s dining options will be a bit more extensive because there are more outdoor seating areas. The Quarter retail center is nearby as well.

The following restaurants will be open for outdoor dining and/or to-go options. In-room dining is available Wednesdays through Sundays.

  • Corner Market
  • Chickie’s & Pete’s Crabhouse & Sportsbar
  • Casa Taco
  • Cuba Libre
  • Green Bar
  • La Petite Crêperie
  • Mrs. Fields
  • Perry’s
  • Premium Ice Cream Parlor
  • P.F. Chang’s
  • The Palm
  • Tony Luke’s
  • Starbucks Marketplace
  • Starbucks The Quarter

Stores within Tropicana and The Quarter that are opening with 25% capacity include:

  • Blue Mercury
  • Essentials
  • America, Marshall Rousso
  • Erwin Pearl
  • Francesca’s
  • Hat Emporium
  • Luxe Salon
  • Step-Up
  • Swarovski – Monday
  • Time After Time
  • White House/Black Market

Resorts Casino Atlantic City

Resorts, too, will reopen at 8 a.m. The city’s oldest casino has been counting down the days via its Twitter account:

Resorts will offer multiple outdoor dining options (hours of operation are subject to change):

  • Landshark Bar & Grill 
  • Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville 
  • Eastwind 
  • Wet Willie’s 

Takeout options include:

  • Gallagher’s Steak House
  • Eastwind
  • Landshark Bar & Grill
  • Margaritaville
  • Soup Man
  • Dunkin Doughnuts
  • Famiglia Pizza 
  • Ruby Dinette 
  • Wet Willie’s 

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.

Well, Hot Dog! DraftKings Puts Odds Up For Annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

The 2020 Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest will afford some normalcy to NJ sports betting fans this year with odds on the action at DraftKings Sportsbook.

On Independence Day weekend last year, there were NBA Playoffs, MLB regular season, MLS regular season, WNBA regular season, and NWSL regular-season events for New Jerseyians to bet on.

This year, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest may get some of that action.

While the NWSL will have matches on July 4, there is little other North American action to wager upon. Thanks to DraftKings Sportsbook, however, the unique nature of 2020 has somewhat of an amusing side.

Hot dog eating contest odds to fill the void

On Wednesday, DraftKings announced it had reached a deal with Major League Eating to become an official sponsor.

As a result, there are two ways DraftKings app users can get in on the fun in New Jersey.

Both ways center on Saturday’s annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. This year, ESPN will broadcast the contest from a closed location and MLE has installed other safety precautions for participants.

DraftKings is offering a free-to-play pool contest for all users. That game comes with $25,000 in prizes.

New Jerseyians are fortunate to be in one of only three states in which DraftKings will offer betting markets on the contest as well. Currently, DraftKings is the only NJ sports betting app with such lines.

The app has two markets set on both the men’s and the women’s events.

There is a prop that pits last year’s champions against the field and a totals market on the number of hot dogs those favorites will eat.

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The lines on Nathan’s at DraftKings

In the men’s contest, Joey Chestnut is seeking his 13th Nathan’s title. DraftKings has him as a -1250 favorite, with the odds on the field resting at +650.

Over on the women’s side, Miki Sudo will try to make it seven Nathan’s wins in a row in 2020. She is -835 against the field, which has +500 odds.

DraftKings sets the over/under on hot dogs eaten for Chestnut at 72.5, which is just shy of his Nathan’s record of 74. The odds reflect that record, as the over sits -137 and the under at +105.

The sportsbook is less optimistic about Sudo’s consumption on Saturday. The line on hot dogs eaten for Sudo is 40.5.

In 2018, she hit a career-high of 41, so hitting the over would at least tie her personal best. DraftKings, accordingly, has her -143 to do that while pegging the under +110.

Gathering information is just as key to handicapping these markets as any other. MLE has felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, too.

What to know before you wager

Under normal circumstances, competitive eaters on the MLE circuit would be hitting their midseason strides.

The spread of coronavirus has resulted in the cancellation of many MLE events this year, however.

Additionally, there’s a lack of fans to consider. Normally, Chestnut, Sudo, and others would be performing to a raucous crowd on Coney Island in New York.

Just like in any other contest, the roar of the crowd can provide motivation. It remains to be seen how the competitors will handle any rust and the comparative silence on Saturday.

Regardless of the outcomes, the fact that the contest is happening and that New Jerseyians can wager on the events this year offers some sense of normalcy.

If Chestnut and Sudo retain their titles, it will be business as usual indeed.

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 to players but exciting to fans as well.

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, 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, its win-or-bust for LAFC.

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

DraftKingsFanDuelPointsBetSugarHouse
+350+500+500+350

Toronto Football Club

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 plus a very easy group draw puts Toronto FC in the driver’s seat.

NJ sportsbooks have 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 immediate 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 which 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.

But 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 hub of tourism in the state, 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 these 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 Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, shared the concerns that were raised during the meeting in a statement:

“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 goes 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 regards 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 them 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 AC Mike 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 probably 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.

Once 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 be not only a great way to help prevent COVID-19 spread but also gives players more options.

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

This new way 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.