Prior to in-home megascreen televisions and sports packages on steroids, going to your local casino or bar to watch a sporting event was “a thing.”

In fact, 30 years ago this February, I met my husband, Brady, at a Super Bowl party. And although I am a casual fan, I do enjoy the atmosphere of sitting with friends, enjoying a beverage and a burger, and yelling at the television. Also, I am competitive, so having the ability to wager on the outcome of the game makes it even better.

Could legalized sports betting signal the return of the packed bars at gaming facilities for college football, Super Bowl and NCAA basketball? Let’s hope so. I would be extremely happy if we could draw crowds of soccer fans into our facilities like they do in Europe. Plus, sports wagers allows us to tap into this multi-billion dollar industry and the tens of millions of potential players who are already making bets on sports.

In spring 2018, the American Gaming Association (AGA) commissioned the Mellman Group to study NCAA pools. They found that over 60 percent of the participants said that taking part in the pools made the games more fun to watch, and the games were more fun to watch with friends, family or colleagues.

The beauty of sports betting is that even if you are in a jurisdiction where it hasn’t been legalized yet, there are many ways to incorporate it into your gaming strategy.

For properties where a sportsbook is not financially feasible or legal, there are still opportunities to capitalize on a player’s sports interest. According to Jerry Epstein, CEO of Engaged Nation, “It does not necessarily have to be with legalized sports betting. We have seen properties host very successful March Mania, Football Big Game and Triple Crown events. A little creativity goes a long way in being able to capitalize on the sports craze.”

Furthermore, properties of any size can benefit from this sports frenzy. Epstein goes on to say, “We are working with many small to mid-sized properties that have enjoyed tremendous success in both general engagements and from a financial standpoint. All this has been done in jurisdictions that have yet to legalize sports betting.”


  • To ensure a successful launch of a sports betting product, you must first take inventory of how this product will be incorporated into your existing business. So often, we get an idea and launch it without developing a marketing plan and overall strategy. I’ve seen many new initiatives fail because an operation fails to take the time to plan for a successful launch.
  • Determine how the program can be integrated into your loyalty program and website. Many property websites don’t adequately call out the locations where sporting events can be viewed, and many of those areas lack adequate food and beverage or seating.
  • Sports betting mobile apps are dominating new markets, along with gamification and loyalty products. These tools build player engagement on and off property and are a great way to build loyalty and drive additional trips.
  • Evaluate how you will incorporate this new opportunity into existing venues. If you offer sports betting but don’t accommodate the onsite guest experience, you can miss the opportunity to create a truly social gaming experience. At some properties, it may be as easy as adding more monitors and cozy chairs to an underutilized bar or gaming area. Refreshing a space, along with integrated signage and training your team, will improve the start-up phase.
  • With or without legalized betting, your hosts can use players’ sports interests to create intimate hosted events for specialty games or even a more significant event where your hosts compete with their players against each other on the outcome of the game.
  • Bottom line, this can be fun and drive some life into our daily operations. Get your team involved too. Some organizations are creating team member pools to reinforce the guest experience.

As this went to press Brady and I were planning to spend our 30th Super Bowl anniversary in San Diego cheering for the LA Rams. Going forward, I am eager to discover the properties who get it right so we can continue our tradition of Super Bowl celebration