Professional indoor American football league, the Arena Football League (AFL), has awarded an expansion franchise to Atlantic City, stating the decision ties in with its vision to become the “next frontier” in sports betting and gaming.
The new team takes the league up to five franchises for its 2019 season and will begin play at the seaside gambling resort’s historic Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in the spring.
The team, which will be operated by Trifecta Sports and Entertainment (TSE), has not yet been named, and fans will have the opportunity to submit and vote on names. “Atlantic City is a great market for the Arena Football League,” AFL commissioner Randall Boe said.
“The AFL is focused on fan engagement and the integration of sports betting, fantasy and fan gamification with our games. Atlantic City is a perfect fit with that strategy and will be a great city for the Arena Football League.”
Atlantic City’s home state of New Jersey has become one of the main markets for sports betting, pulling in over $1bn (€880.7m) in revenue since the practice was legalised in the US last year.
Ted Leonsis, whose Monumental Sports & Entertainment group owns the Washington Valor, said: “Arena Football is a game that’s tailor-made for an integrated sports betting experience, and Atlantic City is a perfect fit to help realise our vision for the AFL as the next frontier in sports betting and gaming. We are excited about this announcement and about future expansion of the league to come.”
The deal is subject to final approval and execution of a license agreement with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). The team’s operating management group, TSE, also operates existing AFL teams the Philadelphia Soul and Albany Empire.
The group was custom designed to operate AFL teams, with the goal to maximise resources and operating efficiencies.