Editor’s note: BangTheBook reader Henry Li asked if we would like a recap and a review of Monmouth Park in New Jersey for his first experience in a sportsbook outside of Las Vegas and we eagerly said yes. If any other readers would like to submit their experiences at local casinos and race tracks following the strike down of PASPA, please email adam[at]bangthebook.com.
This past weekend I decided to make my first legal sports bet since the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sport Protection Act on May 14th, 2018. Previously, I have only made legal sports wagers while I was vacationing in Las Vegas. Of course, living in the northeast, the only other way I’ve made bets otherwise was through an online account which I’ve had for years. With the closest location to me being Monmouth Park in New Jersey, I made the drive down Saturday with a coworker of mine and below is a summary of our experience.
The first thing to remember is that, this is still a racetrack, not a casino. Therefore, do not expect to see a fancy casino floor, endless restaurants and shopping malls, or a high-rise hotel building with a view. What you will see upon arrival is a large parking lot where there is a $5 parking fee, an entry fee of $5 at the gate, and a men’s room that is synonymous with any public bathroom at a place where alcohol is the main choice of beverage. This isn’t to say that it’s bad thing, but don’t expect to be in awe of anything when you get there.
Betting Floor and Amenities
Upon Entering the premises, there is no clear sign that points to where the sportsbook is other than an awning outside of the parking lot telling you that they are home to the First New Jersey Sportsbook. We had to ask the lady at the gate where sportsbook was, and she said to proceed into the main betting window area underneath the stands. Once in the main betting area there is a sign telling you to walk to the back where the sportsbook was. The layout of the hall was very much the same as the racetrack window with a small feel of an old-time sportsbook in Vegas. The betting lines were laid out on black electronic boards with Single Game and Future bets for you to see.
There actually is a newly built air-conditioned room dedicated to sports betting in the back as well. However, since it was packed and with no one leaving their table anytime soon, we decided to stay on the outside in the non-air-conditioned common floor even though it was 95 degrees outside. Fortunately, since the sportsbook area was out of the sun it was bearable to be in the area. In terms of amenities, there were a few bars and hot dog stands in the area. Being that neither of us were big drinkers, we decided to eat Max’s Famous Hot Dogs as we had been starving from our drive. To the right is a picture of the bacon cheese dog they cook on order.
Once we finished eating, we proceeded back to the common area where they do have chairs for you to sit and watch up to 6 games at once on multiple HD TVs.
Prior to eating, we had examined the board to see what the prices were for the games which we discussed. However, before wagering, you will see in the picture above that they do have a Sports Rewards Club and I did sign up for a card prior to betting. All you need to sign up is a driver’s license and a completed form, and within a minute you will receive your card.
Now onto the actual betting. The board itself lists mostly baseball full game, baseball first five innings, world cup single game, and world cup futures as those are the main things going on right now. There also were a couple of boards at the end of the hall which have NFL Week-1 lines up for those who were interested. The baseball full games line was mostly dime spreads for moneylines, except for the Royals-Mariners game which was a 20-cent spread (Mariners -200, Royals +180). In the back wall of the hall there were sheets with all kinds of futures from NBA, NFL, to Soccer and sheets for the daily baseball card where you could see what their opening lines were. For example, the Reds were -110 on the sheet, but by the time I was there, the board showed Reds -125.
At the betting window itself, Adam (no, not Adam Burke) was the attendant who took my bets. He mentioned that they are mostly local guys who were hired and not employees shipped in from Vegas. A few things I wanted to point out are that as of right now there is no live-betting or betting through a ticket machine as those features are not available yet at Monmouth. I was told that those features would be coming soon. In terms of bets, they take moneyline, run lines, totals for baseball. First five inning bets are limited to moneyline and totals only. These can be bet straight(obviously), in a parlay, or in a round robin. Unfortunately for me, If-Bets are not available. In terms of calling out your bets, remember that you are not in front of a computer screen and you can’t simply just click on a team’s box and enter the amount then press enter. There is a jargon you must be familiar with, which mainly involves understanding how to read the board. Instead of saying what team you want to bet on, you have to say the number on the board/sheet and then mention whether you want to be a the moneyline, total, or run-line. For example, on the sheet that the Indians-Athletics total was ID number 967.
So, the jargon is the say the bet type first, then the ID number, and then the amount of the bet (this is where picking up a sheet of the card is helpful). Now the mistake you’ll see on my ticket here is that I forgot to say “to-win” in front of my amount, therefore I was betting $300 to win $272.70 rather than $330 to win $300 which was my intention. However, as the game ended on a Yonder Alonso GIDP with the bases loaded to finish the game as a 7-2 Athletics win, I guess I saved myself $30. Furthermore, always remember to check your tickets or you could make a mistake much worse than mine. There was a bettor who was complaining about his losing ticket because he had told the window person to match his friend’s bet and his friend won but he didn’t. It happened right after the Blue Jays hit a walk off to win 4-3 so my only guess is that is that his friend took the Tigers +1.5 and he took the moneyline. Anyway, he got so upset and argued with management for well over 20 minutes before crumpling up his ticket and threw it at a security guard. Needless to say, he was thrown out shortly after.
I would say that if you are looking to place bets down and didn’t care for anything else, this place is a close enough drive from New York to accomplish this. However, being that they are not fully up and running in terms live betting or computer ticket windows yet, I would say you may want to wait until football season rolls around and see if they made any upgrades to the facilities. The atmosphere was mostly subdued with the end of the Uruguay-Portugal match being the loudest part of the day (It was mostly a pro Uruguay crowd), so again this is something to look for to change come fall. I plan for my next trip to be at either the Borgata or Ocean’s Resort in Atlantic City to see the difference in atmosphere at a full-fledged casino compared to a sportsbook at a racetrack. Thank you for reading and always remember to bet with your head, not with your heart.