The NFL is back, and so are bettors trying to get in on the most popular U.S. sport. Atlantic City has been at limited capacity since reopening up its doors in July. There is a normal around the area, but sports betting made it feel like it was 2019.
Although casinos are limited to 25 percent capacity, the sportsbook in the area did not look the same. Sportsbooks were packed with NFL fans placing bets and taking in games throughout the day. Although mandatory mask-wearing is required in New Jersey, social distancing guidelines were a bit for lenient on Sunday.
Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, and restrictions put in place in a public setting, Atlantic City sportsbooks looked like a regular NFL Sunday.
Atlantic City Crowds
A pandemic did not scare away NFL bettors during Week 1. Sportsbooks were just as busy as a normal fall Sunday. Social distancing policies did not seem to make a difference this weekend with the games.
Fans were interacting with one another, although many public locations like to try and keep parties seated with one another without much interaction among other people. That was not the case this weekend. Fans were chatting back and forth with each other throughout the sportsbook, like everything was normal.
There are multiple hand-sanitizer stations and other health protocols that the casino is following to make sure the spread of COVID-19 does not happen in their locations. Casino in New Jersey closed for over 100 days this spring when the pandemic hit the tri-state area incredibly hard.
What also helped bring people back into the sportsbooks was the eating and drinking policies. When casinos opened back up in early July, Atlantic City was not allowed to serve customers food or drinks when they came to the casinos.
This kept restaurants closed along with other serves at-home as they were not needed. Earlier this month, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy revered the order and started allowing casinos to start serving food and drinks again.
This brought more people back as they could enjoy a day at the casino or sportsbook without having to leave for food or an ice-cold beer.
Sportsbooks vs Casinos
This weekend, sportsbooks and casinos looked different from one another despite most being in the same location. Casinos are required to follow the 25 percent capacity law put in by Gov. Murphy. Atlantic City also has slots and table games spaced out to meet social distancing guidelines.
All the rules make for a different gaming experience, especially during a pandemic. The sportsbooks, on the other hand, were packed, and although people were wearing masks, social distancing was forgotten about this past Sunday.
Multiple people gathered in areas to watch the games and place their bets. The Garden State sportsbooks almost looked like everything was back to normal, except for the whole mask thing.
It will be interesting to see how sportsbooks move forward along with regulators making sure that COVID-19 protocols are being practiced. Sportsbooks will rebound as long as the NFL is playing. However, they will need to watch what the retail sportsbooks look like if they want to stay open.