Sportsbooks, Sports Bars Team Up In a Win for Both

A proliferation of partnerships between taverns and sportsbooks promises to increase the bottom line of both businesses. The formula is all over the country, from Philly to Pittsburgh, DC to Nashville, and of course Nevada. Cordish Gaming’s Sports & Social at Live! Philadelphia above.

Sportsbooks, Sports Bars Team Up In a Win for Both

In February, Cordish Companies opened Sports & Social at Live! Philadelphia, a new kind of casino-based sportsbook in which the tavern element is more than an afterthought.

According to Carmen Gonzales, director of communications for Live! Philadelphia, Sports & Social Philly “is the ultimate sports-watching and sports-betting venue, and the only one in the country located in the center of big-league action from four major professional sports teams.”

For guests’ viewing pleasure, the sportsbook has 24 televisions and a 52-foot LED display, as well as interactive games like Pop-a-Shot and Shufflepuck and even a live DJ. The venue’s American Grill menu goes beyond wings, burgers and fries, with foods like tuna tataki, Korean short rib nachos, steak tagliata and assorted cocktails.

And of course, there’s a FanDuel-run sportsbook with betting windows and self-service terminals.

The partnership between Cordish’s Sports & Social and FanDuel began in November at Live! Pittsburgh. That sportsbook occupies two stories and includes simulated golf and bowling, Gonzales said. A version opened in April at Live! Maryland, but FanDuel has to wait until the arrival of sports betting in the state.

The combination of a full-service tavern with a sportsbook has taken the concept of a social gathering wrapped around sports betting to a new level. In Washington, D.C., sportsbook operator GambetDC oversees sports betting kiosks at four popular local watering holes, with more to come.

“Our focus is on D.C. and providing local businesses a better opportunity to succeed as they recover from the pandemic,” said Nicole G. Jordan, marketing director of the district’s Office of Lottery and Gaming. To that end, Ben’s Next Door, Lou’s City Bar, Takoma Station Tavern and Dirty Water began offering sports betting through GambetDC’s self-service kiosks on July 29. The hope is that adding betting kiosks at popular venues will jumpstart revenues in a sports betting market that has underperformed since its launch last year.

None of this is a surprise, according to gaming analyst Josh Swissman, founding partner of the Las Vegas-based Strategy Organization. “Online sportsbook operators are always looking for creative ways to get exposure for their brands and to drive new customer acquisition,” he said. “This is an exciting avenue to pursue.”

It’s not really new either. BetMGM struck an agreement with the Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar franchise in September 2019, Swissman said. “It’s important for online operators to bring their brands to life and to create a bigger emotional connection with their bettors—and the app itself can only get you so far.”

One of the first companies to leverage this idea was William Hill. In 2011, it entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Golden Gaming of Southern Nevada to place sports betting kiosks in PT’s Taverns throughout the Las Vegas Valley.

FanDuel isn’t the only sportsbook in partnership with Cordish’s Sports & Social. DraftKings will open one in Nashville. DraftKings Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz said the agreement reflects the importance of in-person components. “By aligning with one of the fastest-growing entertainment concepts in the country, we now have the opportunity to bring our products to life by offering engaging, interactive and fan-first destinations to skin-in-the-game customers.

For Cordish, it’s an opportunity to add another top brand to its Sports & Social family. “We are always looking to create new and innovative experiences for our guests,” said Cordish Companies Principal Reed Cordish in a statement, “and this collaboration will allow us an exciting opportunity to do so.”

The agreement puts the sportsbook brand in front of current and future customers, Swissman said. “Sports & Social is known for premium locations tied to casinos, arenas, stadiums and entertainment districts.  The idea is that people will feel more compelled to sign up for or use their DraftKings app as opposed to a competitor app when they experience locations like Sports & Social’s.”

Seth Schorr, CEO of Las Vegas-based BettorView, isn’t surprised by any of this. BettorView owns and operates dozens of bars and restaurants. According to its website, the company invented a plug-and-play solution from the venue operator’s perspective to drive visitation and loyalty as well as food and beverage revenue. BettorView is currently installed in 1,000 venues across the country, including independent sports bars, major chains, retail casino sports books and stadiums/arenas.

“Sports bars are an ideal location for sportsbook operators to engage sports bettors,” Schorr said. “Bar owners find sports bettors great for business, with higher average checks and longer dwell times. We love what the Cordish group has built (Sports & Social). We’re also excited to see the new Barstool Sports bars, and look forward to continuing to support all of the major players in this space.”

BettorView has built a technology platform to help nurture the relationship among sports bettors, sports bars and sportsbooks. “Our domain expertise is in sports bar operations, casino management and sports betting,” said Schorr. “So we find ourselves in a unique position to build a product that satisfies all stakeholders’ objectives.”

In D.C., most bars will average two to four kiosks, with a maximum of five per location, Jordan said. “By the end of the year, there will be numerous locations throughout the district, including traditional lottery stores.”

The GambetDC self-service kiosk allows people interested in sports betting the opportunity to place a wager anonymously using cash. It features live-updating odds and integrates with the GambetDC app. Besides driving business, the bars earn a 5 percent commission on all sports betting sales and a 1 percent commission when tickets are cashed.

“I think this will likely lead to a proliferation of betting-style kiosks in sports bar settings,” Swissman said. “It is all about brand extension and customer acquisition.”

Articles by Author: Bill Sokolic

Bill Sokolic is a veteran journalist who has covered gaming and tourism for more than 25 years as a staff writer and freelancer with various publications and wire services. He's also written stories for news, entertainment, features, and business. He co-authored Atlantic City Revisited, a pictorial history of the resort.