Lots of folks are on the Bryce Harper bandwagon. Former Eagles tight end Brent Celek might be leading the parade.
Celek was on hand as the Valley Forge Casino Resort officially opened its sportsbook on Wednesday. Sports betting is new to many in this region, and Celek stuck a crowbar in his wallet and put a nominal wager on Harper hitting more than 33 homers for the Phillies this season.
“When he hits 34, my $20 will turn into $36.75,” Celek said, smiling. “It’s the safest investment I can think of.”
Seasoned sports bettors frown on futures bets because Celek is paying 16 percent juice on a play that might not pay off for seven months. Harper had 34 homers last season for Washington.
But for novice bettors, futures can be fun. Celek is not gonna miss the $20 if Harper hits only 25 bombs this year.
“It can make a game more exciting,” said Celek, who called a March Madness weekend he spent in Vegas one of the most-fun things he’s ever done. “Putting 20 bucks down on a game here or there, it’s fun.”
The Valley Forge sportsbook is the fifth to open in Southeastern Pennsylvania and the first in the state run by FanDuel. (Parx’s off-track betting parlor will officially make it six on Thursday.)
Valley Forge is the only one with a hotel connected. Its sportsbook room has seven betting windows, but no self-serve kiosks -- they’re about a month away. The sportsbook will be open until 1 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. When the ‘book is closed, winners can be cashed at the casino’s cages.
In terms of size, it’s similar to Philadelphia’s SugarHouse, but there’s less seating at Valley Forge.
Celek chatted with fans after making his bet. He spends a lot of time these days as one of the owners of the Pando Mortgage Co. in Media, Delaware County.
Celek said he was going to look at Duke to win the NCAA Tournament and might put something on the University of Cincinnati, his alma mater. The Bearcats were 3-1 to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament, according to odds set by FanDuel.
The conversation then turned to football, and Celek, who retired after 11 seasons, following the Eagles’ win in Super Bowl LII, had some opinions.
He declined to place any wagers on the Eagles, because he might do some work for the club. He was as surprised as the rest of us about the Giants trading Odell Beckham Jr. and was thrilled the Eagles brought back one of his former teammates.
The DeSean Jackson the Eagles are getting now is different than the occasionally petulant player Chip Kelly cut following the 2013 season, Celek said.
“I think everyone is going to be surprised by how hungry he is, because I think he’s wanted to come back for a long time,” Celek said. “I’m excited for him.”