As the racing season winds down in August/September at “The Shore’s Greatest Stretch,” the action will be heating up at Monmouth’s William Hill Sportsbook with the start of the 2019 college football and NFL seasons.
William Hill at Monmouth was the first retail book to launch in June 2018 following the overturn of PASPA earlier in May. The venue’s central location attracts NFL fans from northern NJ (Jets/Giants) and the south (Eagles) as well as other NFL fans to root for their favorite teams (or at least the ones they’ve bet on that day).
As the NFL season approaches, let’s take a closer look at what the Monmouth Sports Book by William Hill has for the sports bettor.
Initial impressions of William Hill at Monmouth Park
Address: 175 Oceanport Ave, Oceanport, NJ 07757
The current version of Monmouth Park opened in 1946. William Hill made a smart “futures bet” of sorts when it agreed to sponsor the bar in the main grandstand of the racetrack almost five years before PASPA was overturned.
The space is enclosed and has a sports bar theme and is adjacent to the open space branded by William Hill that features TVs, seating and, of course, betting windows.
There are challenges in trying to retrofit new spaces into a 70+-year-old building, but William Hill and Monmouth have done a great job of fitting the pieces together into an NJ sports betting facility built for watching and betting on horse racing.
There is a valet parking option at the main entrance as well as plenty of handicapped and other parking spaces available. If it’s not a live racing day, parking and admission are free. However, on live racing days scheduled for Saturday/Sunday in September and Sunday in October, general parking is $5 and admission to the track also $5.
So you will be down $10 to place a sports a bet, regardless of whether you are there to watch the races or not.
Both of the William Hill sportsbook locations, the sports bar and the open betting area, are located on the main grandstand and are easily accessible once you pass through the track’s main entrance turnstiles.
The enclosed sports bar has a full bar with seating for 130 and a full “sports bar” food menu. Also, on a sultry August/September day, this space is one of the few locations at Monmouth with air conditioning.
The sports bar is dominated by sports on TV screens, but there are screens showing Monmouth and other track simulcasts. There are live tellers for sports betting and self-service machines for horse betting.
The grandstand betting area is an open space, sharing the hustle and bustle with horse and sports bettors as well as the live racing fans going to and from their seats, restrooms, and concessions.
There are banks of TVs for sports and racing as well as seating with tables to study up on the Monmouth daily double or the Jets over/under.
Amenities at Monmouth Sportsbook
There is an overall total of 22 tellers: The sports bar has six live tellers and the grandstand has space for 16 teller stations.
RATING: 4 stars
During a peak NFL Sunday rush, i.e. before the 1 p.m. kickoff at half-time for the 2nd half in-play wagers, lines can get long (pictured) at the live teller windows, which makes self-betting kiosks a good option for bettors.
Unfortunately, this feature is sorely lacking at Monmouth. There are no sports betting self-serve machines in the sports bar and the grandstand has only two accessible kiosks.
RATING: 1 star
Minimum Sportsbook Bet Amount
The minimum wager at William Hill is $2. This is a positive, especially for the smaller player as the majority of the New Jersey retail books have a $5 minimum for all bets.
The William Hill NJ sportsbook app would be the better option for those looking to place bet amounts below the $2 minimum.
RATING: 5 stars
The sports bar features 50+ TVs. Due to the configuration of the relatively small space, none of the screens are “big” or “giant” in nature, but standard 30-inch to 40-inch HD TVs. They are functional but nothing extraordinary.
The grandstand space truly has a “giant” LED screen in which the multiple screen sizes can be customized based on the number of current games and events. On the day of my visit, the board was divided into 18 different screens, a very cool feature.
Both locations also feature William Hill screens with lines for current games and future wagers. And, because we are at Monmouth Park, both spaces feature TVs showing both the live horse racing feed and out-of-town simulcasts.
RATING: 4 stars
The sports bar features table and chair seating for 130, with another 25 seats located at the bar. The seating and table space is comfortable in the sports bar, but when the crowds gather on big days, it can feel like people are crammed in and on top of each other.
The grandstand has existing horse-racing seats for about 50. William Hill added new tables/chairs for another 75. The seating is functional and serves its purpose, but they aren’t necessarily “comfortable.”
One advantage of the grandstand’s voluminous space is that it does offer plenty of room to stand and watch games or check out the odds boards.
RATING: 3.5 stars
Reserved seating on an NFL Sunday is not available in either space. Its first come, first serve.
For non-NFL days, tables at the sports bar may be booked in advance by contacting the Monmouth Park Food/Beverage Manager as it is not operated by William Hill.
The sports bar features a food/drink menu with waiter/waitress service. (See screenshot of the menu below.) Also, as mentioned, there is a full bar also located in the space.
The grandstand area food and beverage is all “self-serve.” The sports bettor will need to leave the sportsbook area to walk behind the sportsbook to the grandstand concession areas featuring such options as Max’s hot dogs, Viva Empanada, and New York pizza.
It’s not clear how many of theses concession options would be open on non-live horse-racing days.
RATING: 4 stars
Staffing/Customer Service Support
William Hill seemingly takes the “less is more” approach here.
There are live tellers on duty, but there is a minimal presence of supervisors/customer support staff. The grandstand area does feature a William Hill space where people can get information and ask questions, but the primary focus of this kiosk is to promote the William Hill app for signups and deposits.
There is a customer service window, which also processes registration for the William Hill/Monmouth Sports Rewards program.
A quick note about William Hill’s Sports Rewards program: The “rewards” are earned for bets placed on-site. There is not yet a link to account for bets placed through the sportsbook app.
The William Hill NJ website details the benefits of rewards for Nevada, where straight bets and parlays earn “points” and 1,000 points = $1 in free bets. It’s unclear if this rewards structure also applies to New Jersey.
RATING: 3 stars
Parking and Accessibility
As mentioned earlier, a patron will be required to pay for parking on live horse-racing days. The charge for general parking is $5 no matter if your arrival is at 10 a.m. or 20 minutes prior to the first live race.
The fee for general parking… well, allows you to park. It doesn’t buy you any proximity to the sportsbook as it’s a 3- to 4-minute walk from the general parking area to the main grandstand admission gate.
Also, it should be noted that on racing days, there is a $5 admission fee to enter the grandstand. The parking attendant advised that I should ask the sportsbook tellers for vouchers for future parking/admission.
Interestingly, the teller in the sports bar quickly handed over the vouchers, the other teller in the grandstand informed me that I had to make a “$50 minimum” wager in order to receive future parking/admission vouchers. Wow.
RATING: 3 stars
If you are a sports bettor that likes to play the horses or vice versa, Monmouth Park/William Hill is a great place to be.
While there are nicer horse racing simulcast areas at Monmouth, one can keep tabs on their horse racing and sports bets from either the sports bar or grandstand location.
For those looking to enjoy New Jersey casino gaming, Atlantic City is about 80 miles south. The closest out of state casino options are Resorts World in Jamaica, NY (65 miles) and Wind Creek in Bethlehem, PA (95 miles).
RATING: 4 stars
My William Hill Monmouth football bet
As part of every sportsbook visit, I have placed a football wager for the upcoming 2019 season. At William Hill, with week 1 NFL lines already “live,” I put together a small 3-team parlay on moneyline wins by the Jets, Ravens, and Browns on Sept. 8:
Overall Score: 3.6 stars
William Hill at Monmouth briefly enjoyed status as the “only game in town” as it opened shortly after PASPA was overturned. With nine other retail books open and more on the way, Monmouth still benefits from its “only game in town” status, thanks to a central NJ location and distance from the competition.
However, there are also the challenges that come with a multi-event venue facility, namely parking lot locations and fees, nearby food/drink concession options in the grandstand, and a contiguous space/location.
While there are plenty of live tellers to place sports bets, the seating for viewing these games is functional and average.