William Hill has struck an innovative deal to open a specialist betting facility inside the Prudential Center, the home of NHL ice hockey team the New Jersey Devils, in a move that brings legal sports betting closer to the US professional sports sector.
A dedicated lounge inside the venue will feature live sports on over 20 screens, while Hills will install odds boards to display betting options for events across a range of sports and competitions.
However, the facility, the first of its kind in the US, will differ to a traditional sportsbook in that there will not be any physical facilities such as windows and kiosks to place a bet.
Instead, Hills will employ a number of ambassadors to assist fans with downloading the company’s official New Jersey app in order to place a bet. Hills launched the app in the state earlier this year.
ESPN said that this approach would help to help allay concerns the NHL held about on-site betting at games. Earlier this month, the American Gaming Association said that the league could expect to bring in an additional $215m (£168m/€189m) in revenue should it fully embrace legalised sports betting in the US.
The dedicated facility, which will be branded as the William Hill Sports Lounge, will be open for all events at the venue, including Devils games and concerts.
The betting action will also spill out of the lounge and into the wider arena, with the Devils to feature odds on its giant scoreboard above the ice.
Hugh Weber, president of the Devils' ownership group, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, said: “Our goal has always been to make Prudential Center the home of sports and entertainment in New Jersey, but ultimately our mission is to create the most dynamic fan experience in the industry today, and the William Hill Sports Lounge will play a part in amplifying fan experience here.”
William Hill has been aggressive in its expansion plans in the US ever since the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA earlier this year.
In addition, Hills last month agreed a deal with the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights in what was the first official link-up between a gambling operator and a franchise from the four established major leagues in the US.
William Hill US CEO Joe Asher said that the company is seeking to build on this early success by committing more funds to its expansion plans in New Jersey.
Asher said: “We’re spending a considerable amount of marketing dollars in New Jersey. It is going to be a very competitive and expensive landscape for the next couple of years.
“I think a lot of companies in the space feel the need to push hard in the state as a testing ground to prove they can be everywhere. In a way, it’s like the Iowa caucuses in politics.”
He added: “I said that, when fully mature, the New Jersey sports betting market would double that of Nevada. It’s early days, but I could see how even that is being conservative.”