The NBA is on indefinite suspension, but there is word that the playoffs could go ahead at a single site. According to an article in the New York Post, Atlantic City has been mentioned as a potential site for the postseason tournament as well as Orlando and Las Vegas. It is all talk at this stage, as no date has been set to resume play in the NBA.
The land-based casinos in Atlantic City remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If the NBA season does resume with the playoffs in New Jersey, it would help offset the heavy losses suffered by the state’s out-of-action gambling properties.
The current shutout is the longest in the history of Atlantic City and is expected to continue for several weeks. The situation is much the same nationwide, which means no NBA games in any city until the country and the league open back up.
The NBA has not stated when the league will resume play and how the rest of the season will unfold. It is not yet known whether the regular season will continue, what the playoff format will look like, or whether there will be any spectators at games once the NBA starts up again.
While Atlantic City has been mentioned, it is an unlikely NBA postseason destination. Las Vegas has the Thomas & Mack Center, which is UNLV’s home venue and also a site for the NBA Summer League. Orlando has the Amway Center, although that could give an unfair advantage to the Orlando Magic – currently eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Atlantic City would be a neutral location and the playoffs would take place at Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall, which has hosted basketball events before. Both the men’s and women’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball tournaments were held there in March, but the tourney was cut short when the NCAA canceled the season.
Before moving to Brooklyn, New York, the Atlantic 10 postseason conference tournament was staged in Atlantic City. The Boardwalk Hall can hold more than 14,000 fans. Las Vegas has more accommodation than Atlantic City, although the nine NJ casino properties have more than 15,000 hotel rooms between them.
Holding the NBA playoffs in Atlantic City would be a huge boost for the New Jersey sports betting industry. The city’s eight land-based sportsbooks would be teeming with bettors, but the rules for social distancing would have to be loosened. Bettors could still lay wagers on the 17 online sportsbooks in New Jersey. However, if they cannot get tickets or spectators are not allowed at the games they will still look for places to watch and wager on the games.
It would be hard to imagine any version of the NBA playoffs reaching the betting handle of the last Super Bowl, which was more than $54 million. NBA betting is allowed in New Jersey even if events take place in the state, which is not the case for college basketball. Considering the NBA playoffs will take place over many days, such an event could be a huge haul for NJ sports betting.