Borgata bullish about NJ racebook despite older demographic

There has been regulated and legal wagering on sporting events for a long time in Atlantic City, but that was limited to wagering on horse racing. Until the U.S. Supreme Court decision in May 2018 to legalize sports betting patrons could bet on the horses at racebooks in casinos in Atlantic City. However, they all closed shop with the only one left being the one at the Borgata Hotel and Casino.

It remains to be seen if that racebook will stay afloat with all of the other casinos in Atlantic City offering sports betting. The Moneyline sportsbook at the Borgata cost $11 million to build earlier in the summer of 2019. Their racebook may survive and even thrive, as Borgata recently applied to the New Jersey Racing Commission for their annual renewal for simulcast racing.

Tom Gable, who is the director of the Borgata racebook and Moneyline sportsbook, said they were fine with being only horse racing dedicated betting company in town.

“I have not heard any rumblings that another property is going to open one, so it looks like we will be the only one for a little while longer,” he said.

When thinking about simulcast horse racing many people think the customers are the elderly who just handicap races and keep checking out the race program. However, Gable said that is not the case.

“There is no question that the horse racing demographic skews older, however there are certainly a number of customers in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s who come in regularly to wager,” he said.

“With the introduction of sports betting, we have seen some individuals who have come in to place a sports wager and then also stay to place some horse racing wagers. Sports betting certainly brings in a younger demographic.”

Other studies around the world have shown that the younger generation prefers sports betting, with events like the NBA, NFL and college sports attracting huge interest. But Gable says horse racing still has its place in the US sports betting landscape.

“We have definitely seen some crossover play with our existing racing customers now betting sports,” he said.

“A rough estimate would be around 60% to 70% of the racing customers also place sports wagers. It varies by individual, obviously.

“For instance, one customer may split their existing wallet now between race and sports (which decreases the amount of racing business that they once did before sports betting).

“However, we have seen some customers increase their spend overall due to sports now also getting a share of their wallet – and their racing business has held steady.

“The last few months have been relatively flat for racing, which is actually a good sign for us. We want to hold onto that existing business, and look to see a gradual increase in the future.”

Will the Borgata keep its racebook open in Atlantic City?

With Borgata currently having the only racebook in Atlantic city they have the advantage of attracting people to bet there and stay at the hotel as well.

“The customers that come for racing certainly have a residual value to them. Not only are they wagering in the racebook, but they are also spending money on food and beverage and other non-gaming items,” Gable said.

The Borgata Hotel and Casino is a fully-fledged resort and Gable said that they have patrons come from all over. One of the main reasons is the simulcast racing that they offer.

The racebook at the Borgata has over 100 seats each with their own monitor. There are also eight betting machines that are self-service, and 40 betting machines, known as Tiny Tim machines, where player does not have to leave their seat in order to make a bet.

Gable stated that in 2020 the Borgata will bring together horse racing and sports betting in one wagering system. He said, “This will allow us to take a horse wager or a sports wager at any window throughout both the Race & Sports Book and Moneyline Bar & Book. This will be important during high volume events such as the Super Bowl, March Madness, and Triple Crown days where the lines flow outside the door to the book.”

Borgata will still have their horse race handicapping contests and one is on February 8, 2020. That is a $10,000 contest that has an entry fee of $75 and a $100 tournament bankroll that the player gets to keep.

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