Another Atlantic City casino opens, with eyes on sports betting

  • The $400 million Ocean Resort Casino is partnering with sportsbook operator William Hill to operate the sports-betting facility.
  • William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher is banking on success.
  • “We know that there’s an appetite for sports betting here in New Jersey," he says.

Another casino opened its doors on the Atlantic City boardwalk on Thursday and is hoping to cash in on New Jersey’s new sports-betting law.

The $400 million Ocean Resort Casino, which replaced the shuttered $2.4 billion Revel, is partnering with sportsbook operator William Hill to operate the sports-betting facility.

On Thursday afternoon, actor Mark Wahlberg placed the first bet, putting his money on the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2019 Super Bowl.

Joe Asher, CEO of the U.S. arm of William Hill, told CNBC’s Contessa Brewer that while he didn’t have any real expectations yet about what kind of return on investment the company will get, he expects the venture to be a big success.

“We know that there’s an appetite for sports betting here in New Jersey,” Asher said on “Power Lunch.”

“It’s going to be a successful investment if we do our job well now and execute.”

A view of the William Hill Sports Book Opening at Ocean Resort Casino on June 28, 2018 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 
Getty Images
A view of the William Hill Sports Book Opening at Ocean Resort Casino on June 28, 2018 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. 

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can legalize sports betting, breaking up Nevada’s monopoly. Two weeks ago, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made the first legal sports wager at Monmouth Park Racetrack. William Hill operates the sports betting at Monmouth and also has the biggest sportsbook in Nevada.

While many more will likely jump into the game, Asher said he’s not worried about competitors.

“We faced really tough competition for years in Nevada. We compete day in and day out against people like MGM, Caesars, Wynn, and so competition is great,” he said. “As long as the rules are fair, we’ll do fine.”

Casinos are hoping the new law will help breathe new life into the industry, which has been hard hit in Atlantic City. Over the last five years, five casinos have shut down as they struggled with increased competition from nearby states.

The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa became the first casino in the city to accept a legal sports wager on June 14.

Meanwhile, Ocean Resort Casino was one of two new casinos to open in the city on Thursday. The Hard Rock Casino also officially opened just down the boardwalk; however, it is not offering sports betting. It is hoping to attract customers through live entertainment, bringing in big names like Pitbull and Carrie Underwood.

— CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace contributed to this report.