Freeroll From Resorts Marks First Season-Long NFL Picks Contest In NJ

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The first casino to come to Atlantic City is also the first to offer a season-long NFL betting contest in New Jersey.

On Thursday, Resorts Casino Hotel, which opened in 1978, let visitors to ResortsCasino.com know that a SuperContest-style competition, called the Super Pick ’Em, is coming.

Last week, the NJ sports betting community wasn’t sure if there would be any contests like this available this NFL season. Even as Rush Street Interactive launched one in Pennsylvania, Garden State bettors were left to stare at the greener grass on the other side.

The Super Pick ’Em brings some green across the border — $40k of it, to be exact.

The guarantee is substantially smaller than the millions generated by the Las Vegas SuperContest or the half-million promised by the PA Pick ’Em, but it’s hard to argue with Resorts’ price point: $0.

Everybody loves a freeroll

It remains to be seen whether there will be paid-entry contests in New Jersey before the NFL season kicks off — SugarHouse suggested earlier this week that it has something in the works, though that might be another freeroll. For now, Resorts is the innovator, even if others with larger prize pools (and entry fees to match) might follow.

“We’ve decided to make it free to play so that it is open to everyone,” Resorts Digital Gaming Sports Betting Operations Manager Robert Akeret told NJ Online Gambling. “We don’t want to exclude some customers by tying them into a large upfront stake.”

As for how they arrived at the $40k figure for the guarantee, Akeret said, “We wanted this prize structure to feel like it was truly attainable for all entrants yet still provide a decent reward. We see the big box companies come out with huge guarantees that some entrants may feel like they have no chance of attaining and it seems more like a lottery to them. Here at ResortsCasino.com, we go back to our roots being the first casino in NJ and focusing on being for our people of New Jersey. Hopefully this will be an opportunity to promote our sports betting product to a wider range and really show our depth of product.”

In addition to feeling the free-to-play route made the most sense for casting the widest possible net and attracting customers, Resorts also recognized it as a way to get around what has thus far seemed a slow approval process with the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“Since this is a free-to-play competition, there were really no blockers in the approval process,” Akeret said. “I think being free to play gave us the speed to market, not having to integrate a payments element and getting an entirely new game approved by the DGE.”

Format particulars

Akeret couldn’t go too deep yet on the details on how the contest will work, but he did share which way Resorts went on the spreads-or-straight-up decision.

“The format will be picking against the spread each week,” Akeret said. He also teased that there will be “a really cool twist to keep entrants engaged and on the edge of their seats for each of the games selected.”

The prize pool will be spread across both weekly payouts and end-of-season prizes.

Resorts’ land-based sportsbook ranks second out of eight Atlantic City casino books in revenue so far in 2019, at $1.28 mm through July. That’s a solid number, but it’s on the online/mobile side that the company is really crushing it, as the Resorts Digital license, split among the DraftKings, BetStars, and ResortsCasino skins, had generated $33.17 mm in sports betting revenue this year. DraftKings is believed to account for the great majority of that total. ResortsCasino is still building its sports betting brand — and the team there sees the Super Pick ’Em as a worthwhile play in that regard.

It remains to be seen whether this contest is the start of a trend in New Jersey, and whether other online sportsbooks will follow with paid-entry options. But for now, New Jerseyans who’ve been waiting more than a year for some variation on the SuperContest to come to their home state have at least one competition to enter this football season.

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Eric Raskin

Eric is a veteran writer, editor, and podcaster in the sports and gaming industries. He was the editor-in-chief of the poker magazine All In for nearly a decade, is the author of the book The Moneymaker Effect, and has contributed to such outlets as ESPN.com, Grantland.com, and Playboy.

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