ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Two new sportsbooks worth more than $20 million are making their debut in Atlantic City in the latest sign of how important casinos consider New Jersey's fast-growing sports betting industry.
The Borgata is opening a $12 million project Saturday that includes a new sportsbook and entertainment project. The Moneyline Bar & Book opening comes just over a week after Bally's opened its new $8.4 million sportsbook. A grand opening ceremony for that has not yet been scheduled.
Both projects are significant expansions and upgrades of original, smaller sports betting facilities opened last summer, shortly after New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case clearing the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting.
Industry officials and analysts agree the future of sports betting in America is online. At a casino conference in Atlantic City this month, some gambling and technology executives predicted 90% of sports betting in the United States will be done over mobile phones or the internet in the next five to 10 years.
But that's not stopping casinos and racetracks from investing millions in on-premises sportsbooks, counting on fans' desire to share a communal experience.
"We wanted to go big and have an amazing experience," said Kevin Ortzman, regional president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns three Atlantic City casinos including Bally's. "We fully expect people to use mobile as well, but to visually experience these games in a facility like this is an amazing experience."
Monica Miller, of Jacksonville, Florida, who frequently visits Atlantic City sportsbooks, agreed.
"I bet from my phone while I'm watching on these big screens," she said of the Bally's facility. "I was in here before they redid it, and this is a really nice upgrade."
Bally's sportsbook includes five "fan cave" private rooms. A wall of video screens can be broken down into four separate games. It also will include a beer pong bar, and Atlantic City's first self-serve beer bar.
Borgata blended its new sportsbook with an adjacent cocktail bar and lounge with high-end gambling called Level One. And it envisions its sports betting facility hosting other events during slow sports periods.
"We're building a destination experience - and if it happens to have sports wagering, great," said Marcus Glover, the Borgata's president. "Our slogan for this is 'eat, drink, bet, watch.'"
Glover said the Borgata wanted to offer something more than "just a transactional experience."
"It takes like a minute to 2 minutes to make your bet," he said. "Once you're done with that, then what?"
Both new sportsbooks also include tabletop gambling terminals so customers can play casino games in between sports bets.
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC