Tom Gable started his career at Borgata as Director of Security and joined the property at the very start of its development. He had the opportunity to interact with a variety of departments and was able to see how other divisions operated. In 2018, when sports betting became legal in New Jersey, he became the Director of Race & Sports Betting. We talked to Tom about the popularity of sports betting, and about the new BetMGM Sportsbook and Bar at Borgata.
Sports betting in NJ has really exploded over the last several years. What makes it so appealing to Borgata’s customers? Sports betting in general is appealing simply because we are a sports-crazed country. Everyone follows a sport or team. Betting allows them to wager on their opinion. It’s their knowledge against the bookmaker’s knowledge. At Borgata, we offer an experience that you can’t find elsewhere in the market. We have two different venues. BetMGM is a very social atmosphere—you’ll see people eating and drinking and having a great time doing it. And then, at BetMGM Race and Sportsbook, it’s a more traditional space, for people who take it a little more seriously and take some time to do studying before they put their money down. We have the best of both worlds.
What’s your favorite menu item at BetMGM Sportsbook and Bar? There are many good items on the menu, but I do like the cheesesteak quesadilla. If you live in Philadelphia, cheesesteak is a food group. But you can’t go wrong with quite a few of the items.
What’s the craziest bet or parlay in the Sportsbook? Obviously, the regulators don’t let us get too crazy, but where we can get most creative is the prop market around the Super Bowl every year. A prop bet is a bet around a game not focused on the exact outcome of the game. You can wager on the coin toss, or you can cross sports. For instance, if there is an NBA game on Super Bowl Sunday, we can put up a prop like, “Will LaBrown James have more points in that game versus a certain Super Bowl team.” Prop betting around the Super Bowl has really grown over the last several years. There are sometimes 15-20 pages of bets—it’s continued to grow in popularity and you can get creative—a week or two before a game.
In January 2020, there was a four-leg parlay that would have paid out a million dollars: There was a gentleman who came during Wild Card weekend, a very high end player, who bet a 400K three-game teaser. He won the first two legs on Saturday, and on Sunday, he lost the teaser. He ended up betting the $75,000 he had left: he bet on the Eagles/Seahawks game, a college basketball game, and 2 NHL games. He hits the first three legs. The last leg was the Predators versus the Ducks. He needed the Predators to win. The game ended up going to overtime, and then to a shootout. They lost, and he ended up losing a million dollars on a NHL shootout.
For someone who hasn’t placed a sports bet before, what’s the best way to learn the ins and outs? There’s a lot of resources out there that you can look at, like articles, videos, and books. If you’re interested in starting, we still hear from people who have never done it before. It’s still a new thing for a lot of people. If you’re here at Borgata, come in and go right to a cashier, and they will be happy to help you out and facilitate any wager you are looking for. They’ll ask you a few questions to make sure you get the right wager. We are here to help. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to ask. It can seem a little intimidating to someone walking in for the first time, but we strive to offer the best customer service in the market.
What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV? The sport I love to watch the most is college basketball. If you go to a game, the energy level there is really high and that transcends to TV, from the passion of the fans to the kids who are playing the game who aren’t necessarily getting paid to get play. They play because they love it—that’s what makes March Madness so exciting, seeing some of the smaller schools beat the bigger schools. With college basketball, the energy that they bring when they play it’s totally different breed of basketball. There’s a whole different energy about it.