Atlantic City’s Borgata to Let Bettors Wager on Free Throws

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Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa says it’s the first in the U.S. that will let you bet on your ability to sink a free throw.

The casino said in a news release Friday that it will hold a basketball shooting tournament next month, in which contestants will pay $20 for a chance to win a share of a $10,000 pool. It’s the first to receive approval for wagering on skill-based contests from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, which is seeking to revive an industry reeling from East Coast competition.

The March 21 free-throw tournament will consist of three rounds of shooting, each lasting 90 seconds. The first place winner will receive $5,000.

“We’re trying to talk to a little bit younger demographic who, over time, might become a slot player,” Joe Lupo, senior vice president of operations, said in a telephone interview.

Atlantic City, once the home to the only casinos on the East Coast, has struggled as nearby Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware have legalized gambling. New Jersey’s casino revenue dropped to $2.9 billion last year from $5.2 billion in 2006. Four of its 12 casinos closed in 2014.

“Here in Atlantic City, we’ve seen the decline, with surrounding jurisdictions taking a lot of our customer base,” Lupo said. “We’re trying to be innovative and creative.”

Nonvirtual Reality

The tournament is intended to attract people 21 to 40 who play games on consoles such as Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and Nintendo Co.’s Wii. Borgata is considering other skill-based contests, including those that could be performed on slot machines, he said.

Atlantic City’s finances have been affected along with those of its gambling houses. Moody’s Investors Service cut its bond rating to junk in July because of the dependence on casinos.

Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie installed an emergency-management team for the city that includes Kevyn Orr. Orr guided Detroit through its record $18 billion municipal bankruptcy, in part by asking bondholders to accept less than they were owed.