New Jersey Devils to Install Betting Lounge in Arena
Back in May, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which effectively paved the way for every state to decide for themselves whether to offer legal and regulated sports gambling. Shortly after the ruling, the state of New Jersey became the first state outside of Nevada to offer sports betting legally.
Now, fans of the New Jersey Devils will be able to get in on some betting action at an actual NHL game. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, the New Jersey Devils are planning to install a sportsbook and lounge area inside the team’s home venue, the Prudential Center. William Hill and Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (the Devils’ ownership group) signed a multi-year agreement.
U.K.-based sportsbook William Hill, who recently became a sponsor of the Devils, will have its name on the brand new facility. At the lounge, fans will be able to watch a variety of sporting events on 20 different television screens with betting odds and betting options displayed throughout. The space is reportedly about to undergo renovation and construction, though there is still no set opening date. The Devils are the second NHL franchise doing business with William Hill after the sportsbook became a sponsor of the Vegas Golden Knights last year.
Joe Asher, the U.S. CEO of William Hill, told ESPN, “We’re spending a considerable amount of marketing dollars in New Jersey. It is going to be a very competitive and expensive landscape for the next couple of years. I think a lot of companies in the space feel the need to push hard in the state as a testing ground to prove they can be everywhere. In a way, it’s like the Iowa caucuses in politics.” Asher added, “I said that, when fully mature, the New Jersey sports betting market would double that of Nevada. It’s early days, but I could see how even that is being conservative.”
Offering betting inside an NHL venue is still a sticky wicket for some, and the NHL is reportedly not completely comfortable with having a real sportsbook inside an arena in which a live game is taking place. So, as a means of working around this potential issue, bettors will be required to place bets through the William Hill mobile app rather than at windows or kiosks inside the lounge. Company ambassadors will be present inside the venue to help customers figure out how to place bets on their mobile devices. Cash bets are only accepted in casinos or at racetracks.
Betting odds will also be visible on the team’s massive scoreboard in the middle of the arena. The lounge will be open to the public during any live event taking place in the arena, including concerts.
Hugh Weber, the president of the Devils’ ownership group, told ESPN, “Our goal has always been to make Prudential Center the home of sports and entertainment in New Jersey, but ultimately our mission is to create the most dynamic fan experience in the industry today, and the William Hill Sports Lounge will play a part in amplifying the fan experience here.”
William Hill is no stranger to New Jersey. Since betting was legalized and the general public was given the green light to start betting on sports back in May, the company has been active in trying to gain a footing in the new and burgeoning market. William Hill became the first legal sports betting operator in the state when their sportsbook at Monmouth Park racetrack opened on July 14. William Hill also has 108 different locations in Nevada, which was previously the only state in which gambling on sports was legal.
However, DraftKings and FanDuel, which previously specialized in daily fantasy sports, became the first companies to offer legal sports wagering mobile apps in the state. Bettors may legally place bets through the apps if they are physically located within the state of New Jersey. FanDuel has since opened a sportsbook of its own at the Meadowlands near MetLife Stadium, the home of the New York Giants and New York Jets. FanDuel’s sportsbook opened around a month after William Hill’s location opened its doors. There are now 8 companies with working mobile apps within New Jersey, including William Hill.
New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia are currently the only 5 states in the country in which sports betting is legal, though a host of others are expected to follow suit in the months and years to come. So far, New Jersey has been the fastest-growing market for the industry. New Jersey has reportedly taken in over $336 million worth of sports wagers since sports betting was legalized about 4 months ago.
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