I have always been reluctant to answer when asked: Would you place your money on….? And I have always responded go with your instincts because wagering on sports has never been my game. A sports journalist, so they say, are the experts to ask when placing a wager.
Except, this veteran sports journalist is not the one to ask who or where to place a bet. I have a favorite team. I want them to win. But on football Sunday, baseball season, the big fight in Last Vegas? Nope, never placed a bet.
And a rare visit to the race track? Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, Yonkers? I go with the flow and handicap with numbers and colors. And, yes caught a few breaks and was a lucky winner.
So this past Sunday, I got the itch. I got in the car and ventured to Atlantic City New Jersey and hit the sportsbooks at Resorts and Ocean Casinos. Jets/Raiders, Giants/Seahawks, Packers/Eagles, Patriots/Chargers, Cardinals/Rams were on the board.
Now, the fun part. This is sports and placing a wager. The novice here, so what do I do? Sit down on a comfortable couch in a spacious room and ask your friends who know more about this than yours truly?
There are many, though, who venture to the sportsbooks on the boardwalk and in record numbers during a football Sunday. They are regulars and reserve a seat as they watch the big screen monitors. They watch, eat, drink, and of course cheer.
New Jersey’s red-hot sports betting market set the national record for the highest amount wagered on sports for the third month in a row in October with over $803 million plunked down by gamblers.
Figures released by the state Division of Gambling Enforcement show that Atlantic City’s casinos and the three horse tracks that offer sports betting collectively took in $803,096,172.
That broke the state’s previous monthly records of $667.9 million in August and $748.5 million in September.
You see these regulars grab the latest sheets, They handicap. I learned it’s more about over and under, point spreads, and picking a combination of teams. Or pick one to win. Of course, I learned to place a bet on one team for $100.00 and a win does not amount to breaking the bank.
Regardless, the day will pass on NFL Sunday in a sportsbook, on the boardwalk with kickoffs at 1pm and the late games at 4pm. It is paradise watching the boards, the live games . In between the odds of college basketball games are posted on the big boards and some of the games sandwiched in between on the big screens.
But the emphasis is NFL Sunday. Heck, you can also wager on the pre season odds for a hopeful start of the 2021 MLB season and World Series favorite. Surprised, this Mets fan noticed they were 15th to win it all at the Ocean Casino Sportsbook with the Dodgers, Braves and Yankees as the top three.
Okay, the process begins. Easy to locate, the Ocean, at a far end of the boardwalk, is the largest property in Atlantic City. Social distancing in place and every other seat is blocked, face covering on, and a perfect day at the sportsbook.
Now the difficult part of this. How to place the wager? I am as nervous as the new kid on the first day of work.
Please give me a beak. I am new at this. I approach the window that is covered with that social distance plexiglass. I grab the sheet, the pencil. I ask how do I do this, can I pick three teams? How much do I wager? How much would I win?
To the regulars, as some explained, this is recreation and testing their luck. But they have experience and knowledge of the process. To the novice and trying to comprehend all of this, well you can understand this is a difficult process.
I want to win. Instincts say pick three games: Cardinals, Seahawks, Raiders. Put down $100.00 and see the return if everything pans out. In other words, at the window and understanding how this works has not locked in.
I am watching six games. Interesting to observe how regional coverage goes to the networks for their halftime reports as other games resume. You don’t see this on a normal NFL Sunday at home even with the NFL ticket or Red Zone package,
Got the Raiders with a nail-biting finish. Watched the underdog Giants pull the upset. And, the Cardinals, a team I root for got another loss and fell in a quest for a NFC wild card.
Lost two of the three. Got nothing back. It was an NFL Sunday on the Atlantic City boardwalk on a cold December Day. Will I do this again? Lets say, I can get hooked if this becomes a regular thing in New York City.
And next time, don’t ask me who is the favorite and who will win.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso Subscribe, like, Comment “Sports With Rich” YouTube