Just as William Hill closes a number of land-based sports betting shops, a number of American outlets are thinking about opening up some of their own.
An open-air mall in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is lobbying to open a sports betting parlor which could add some interesting competition to the region’s casinos and online sports betting operators.
The open-air mall at Cherry Hill is a booming spot with an attractive retail mix including shopping outlets like Costco and Trade Joe’s. Now the mall’s owner is looking to add a sports betting parlor to the mix and the big brands in the mall are on board.
What’s interesting is that a lot of retail stores are trying to find a spot in the mall, which used to be a horse racing track. That’s because the 230-acre hotspot is a coveted place these days. Construction of a sports bar started in May 2018 and the thinking was that it would eventually become a place to watch and bet on games. However, opening up a sports betting shop is proving to be tricky.
Shopping and sports betting might not be a combination which immediately comes to mind, but then again the Las Vegas Strip does have plenty of retail. So this shopping-betting parlor combo in New Jersey isn’t so far-fetched.
There’s an ongoing legal challenge in the courts to determine whether the mall, called Market Place and Towne Place at Garden State Park, can legally open a sports betting parlor. On one hand, Morris’s M&M Partners, which owns the spot, says it has the legal right to seek a license. On the other hand, G.S. Park Racing is suing as to stop it, citing a deed covenant that says the mall can only own and operate an off-track betting facility.
G.S. Park Racing represents a concoction of interests, many of whom are gambling and casino operators in the suburban Philadelphia area. They are fighting to entice New Jersey customers to place bets – Philadelphia is less than 10 miles from Cherry Hill – so they have an interest in preventing a new competitor from opening.
Morris’s M&M Partners argue that sports betting wasn’t legal at the time that the covenant was signed in 2001, so the agreement should be dissolved.
At the end of the day (and there will be plenty of long days ahead in the courts), sports bettors will win out. As sports betting steps into the spotlight, fans will be able to choose land-based shops, kiosks at sports stadiums and arenas or mobile options for wagering. There’s plenty of business to go around but it’s understandable that some old school casinos might feel like they’re being threatened.
But as New Jersey’s booming sports betting market has demonstrated – with 80% of business coming through mobile and online options – mobile sports betting is the wave of the future. We’ve already seen that with William Hill, one of the biggest sports betting brands in the world, closing down stores and shifting its focus online.
But having a physical sports wagering location at a strip mall would be one more option for New Jersey sports betting enthusiasts.