Atlantic City casinos hoping increased capacity — and return of NCAA Tourney — brings big crowds this weekend

Atlantic City's boardwalk. ­

The increased capacity for indoor dining and entertainment — scheduled to go into effect Friday — couldn’t come at a better time for the casinos in Atlantic City.

The casinos, which already were celebrating the return of the NCAA Tournament, one of the biggest sports gambling events of the year, get two added bonuses Friday that they hope will bring a big crowd to town:

  • Indoor dining capacity will increase from 35% to 50%, and there will be 50% capacity on the casino floor as well.
  • The 10 p.m. closing restriction will be lifted, too. Starting Friday, the casino floor will be allowed to remain open 24 hours a day, and food and beverages services can be available throughout the evening and overnight hours.

Steve Callender, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said Atlantic City casinos have exciting offerings to enhance fans’ experience watching the tournament.

“Atlantic City casinos are excited to safely welcome back fans to enjoy one of the biggest sporting events of the year,” he said.

The casinos, Callender said, hope they can pick up where they left off when the pandemic hit.

“Leading up to the basketball tournament last year, Atlantic City seemed to be unstoppable,” he said. “We were on a 21-month winning streak of revenue growth, our sportsbooks topped Nevada’s, and our diverse offerings were attracting new visitors.

“Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the national college basketball championship was canceled, stay at home orders were issued and our casinos were closed for almost four months.”

Callender said the industry is ready with top health and safety precautions.

“We look forward to providing a sense of normalcy for our guests during this difficult time, while continuing to prioritize their health and safety through continued enforcement of mask and social distancing requirements,” he said. “As the spring and summer seasons approach and the vaccine is distributed, we are optimistic about the future as we work to bring more people back to work and continue revitalizing Atlantic City’s economy.”

As fans finalize their brackets, Atlantic City casinos will be hosting various events, drink and food specials, as well as featuring their premier sportsbooks to create the ultimate experience for fans. Here is some of what they are offering — as presented by the casino association, and edited for clarity:

Borgata Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

Borgata is the ultimate destination to watch the college basketball championship tournament. Fans can reserve a socially-distant seat for the early session, the late session or all-day viewing at one of Borgata’s prime viewing locations from Friday through Monday.

  • Borgata is offering three different locations to wager on the college basketball championship tournament. Guests can experience the excitement of watching and wagering in the BetMGM Sportsbook and Bar, the Race and Sportsbook or the Borgata Event Center. Call 609-317-8006 to reserve your space now.
  • BetMGM Sportsbook & Bar and Level One Cocktail Bar & Lounge will be open daily starting at 9 a.m. Full game day food and beverage menu service will be available.  Limited seating and advance reservations suggested. Please call 609-317-8006 to book. First-come, first-served viewing is also available at Borgata’s B Bar, Lobby Bar and Long Bar.

Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Resorts

Experience “Hoops at the Shore” all month long at Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City Resorts. Reserve your seat or fan cave today by visiting Rooms midweek start at $39.

Make an entire weekend out of celebrating the return of Hoops at the Shore at Tropicana. With rooms starting at $57, guests can enjoy an overnight stay, one of the premier sportsbooks in Atlantic City and buckets of beer to sip on during the games. The William Hill Sportsbook at Tropicana is located on the casino floor, adjacent to Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab House & Sports Bar and 10 North.

Relax in comfort while watching the Hoops at the Shore at the William Hill Sportsbook at Harrah’s Resort. The sportsbook is equipped with 3,800 square feet of space, including high-quality LED TVs spanning across the walls, extra plush seating and drink specials. Additionally, guests can reserve their stadium seating, starting at $60, and Fan Caves for $500, which includes a $350 reservation fee and $150 F&B pre-select and two buckets of beer/seltzer.

It’s time to get off the sidelines and score your winning record. During Hoops at the Shore, the William Hill Sportsbook at the Wild Wild West lets you wager on your favorites and turn a couple of bucks into a couple of hundred dollars throughout its 15,228 square feet of sports betting space. Get in on the action in-person and enjoy a variety of drink specials.

Golden Nugget Atlantic City

Wager, watch and win at Golden Nugget during the national college basketball championship! Catch all the madness live at the Sportsbook on more than 50 televisions and place your wagers on our self-service betting kiosks. Or visit Rush Lounge, just steps away from the Sportsbook, and get into the game with a private table. Plus, we’re not calling any fouls on our $20 bucket and $5 shot specials during all games. Golden Nugget is a slam dunk spot to feel like you’re sitting courtside.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

Hard Rock Casino iGaming Lounge will show every basketball game Friday through Sunday in the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena tunnel. This popup space will capture all the madness with big screen televisions and iGaming activations. In total, the resort will show games on 140 screens throughout the property. The Sportsbook is also available for customers to make wagers on their favorite teams.

Ocean Casino Resort

Take in the action of the national college basketball championship at Ocean Casino Resort Friday through Monday. The resort’s Madness Zone is offering three unique venues to watch, bet, eat and drink all weekend long. Full-day and half-day ticketed reservations are available across William Hill Sportsbook at Ocean, the Den at Ocean and Topgolf Swing Suite.

Resorts Casino Hotel

Watch all of the games at Resorts Casino Hotel. Guests can place bets at DraftKings Sportsbook, which features ultra-high definition LED video walls, 18 betting kiosks and five betting windows. The games will be showing throughout the casino floor and in every bar and restaurant. Resorts is offering prizes and drink specials, including Spin the Prize Wheel for your chance to score DraftKings prizes, slot cash or comps from 3-9 p.m. Friday.

Resorts is offering a March Mania Room Package from Monday through Thursday for $129, which includes:

  • Overnight stay;
  • $40 dining credit;
  • $25 table game free bet;
  • Free DraftKings T-shirt;
  • 2 p.m. late checkout.

Book online or call 609-340-6300 and mention code SMARMDN.