Although Super Bowl LV didn’t match up to the hype, bettors and fans came out to Atlantic City sportsbooks for the first major athletic event of the year during the current coronavirus pandemic.
For the first time in a long time, there was a bit of normalcy with the Super Bowl, even if only for a few hours.
I was invited down to Caesar’s Wild West Casino by gaming colleague and friend, Sean Higgs, to one of the fan caves. There you can watch any game with food and beverage with a more private atmosphere, rather than the huge sportsbook arena-like setting just outside the suites.
Last week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy raised the capacity level for bars and dining establishments from 25% to 35% and lifted the 10 p.m. deadline to close for those businesses, so the little bit of extra relief to the Garden State helped, especially to the casinos and sportsbooks.
The suite capacity was lowered from 24 to 10 people in attendance and we never reached or exceeded that number.
Just outside its William Hill sportsbook, Wild West has a huge, arena-like, socially distanced viewing area.
Reservations were required for this area and all who were seated had to have a wrist bracelet to enter. The area was modified to have seats of four — 6 feet from each other — rather than rows of seating, so viewers and bettors could enjoy the game in a safe atmosphere, while wearing a mandatory mask.
Lines at the William Hill sportsbook were non-existent as it was easy to put in a live bet. However, the self-service kiosks were not operational.
By my guess, 125-175 people were present, scattered and distanced throughout, with the majority of them Buccaneers fans. Security was present and William Hill members were trying to sign up new members throughout the day to its mobile sports betting app.
After the NFL game, people cashed their winning tickets, threw away their losers and left having a sense of a pretty nice day had by all, despite the Chiefs’ performance.
Although it was just a taste of getting back to normal, you can tell people wanted that taste and are looking forward to the next event, maybe even without a mask and with a high five.