Harrah’s to become 4th Atlantic City casino with sports bets

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Resorts Casino Hotel and DraftKings on Wednesday received approval to become the first companies to offer online and mobile sports betting in New Jersey.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement gave approval to the casino and its Boston-based online partner to launch an invitation-only version of mobile sports betting, which will undergo several days of testing before becoming fully available. Requests for invitations to participate can be made at draftkings.com.

A launch was expected to happen Wednesday afternoon or evening.

The companies won a heated race to be first to market with mobile and online sports betting, which is widely seen as the most promising segment of the nascent sports betting market. New Jersey regulators are considering mobile applications from several other companies and could soon approve additional online providers.

Four casinos and two horse tracks currently offer in-person sports betting.

Resorts officials declined to comment on Wednesday’s launch, which came hours after Harrah’s became the fourth Atlantic City casino to offer sports betting: A Frank Sinatra impersonator asked Luck to be a lady as he bet on the New York Yankees, and an Elvis impersonator thanked the clerk very much for handing him a similar bet slip.

Harrah’s started taking sports bets two days after its sister property, Bally’s, did, joining the Borgata, Ocean Resort, Bally’s and two horse racing tracks, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.

”I did one with my heart and one with my head,” said James Prendergast, of Washington Township in Warren County. ”My heart bet on the (New York) Giants to win the Super Bowl, and my head bet on the (Houston) Texans.”

Longtime Harrah’s customer Alan Kallman, of Monroe Township, placed the first sports bet at Harrah’s, putting $25 on the Yankees to win the World Series – after his wife talked him out of betting on the Boston Red Sox.

”There’s a saying, Alan: Happy wife, happy life,” said Kevin Ortzman, Atlantic City president of Caesars Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s, Bally’s and Caesars.

Ortzman said Bally’s sports book ”has met our expectations” during its first two days of operation, but he would not say how much in bets it had taken in.

New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court case in May clearing the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting should they choose to do so.

Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC