Ohioans have been watching Super Bowls along with the rest of America since 1967 and finding various ways to bet on them in that span, but Sunday’s game marks the first one marrying the viewing with legal betting.
The state’s 14 retail Type B sportsbooks at casinos, racinos, and sporting venues will undoubtedly be hosting heavy crowds to watch and wager on a game in which the Philadelphia Eagles are slight favorites over the Kansas City Chiefs. On top of that, hundreds of bars and other locations with one or two lottery-approved sports betting kiosks will have patrons with action on Sunday night’s game.
One gaming operator in particular is making use of Super Bowl week to show off the special opportunity the retail sportsbooks present for mass, party-flavored viewing of major events. PENN Entertainment is opening new Barstool Sportsbooks at its Hollywood Gaming Mahoning Valley racino Friday and at Hollywood Casino Columbus Saturday.
While the vast preponderance of betting on the Super Bowl and the rest of the sports calendar is taking place on the 16 mobile sportsbook apps available in Ohio, in-person wagering offers another dimension that casino and racino operators deem worth a major investment.
“It feels like it’s been a long time coming, but Ohio is ready to be able to wager on the Big Game in an environment like this and we are open just in time,” Erich Zimny, assistant general manager of Hollywood Casino Columbus, said in a press release in advance of Saturday’s ribbon-cutting.
Part of a national PENN trend
Since legal betting began in Ohio on Jan. 1, PENN has been taking wagers through its online Barstool Sportsbook and in temporary sportsbook set-ups at all four of its properties in the state, which include Hollywood Casino Toledo and Hollywood Gaming at Dayton Raceway in addition to the Columbus and Mahoning Valley venues.
Across the country, PENN has been spending money in legal betting states to remodel its properties with new betting/restaurant/bar areas carrying the Barstool brand. PENN is in the process of completing full acquisition this month of Barstool Sports, the irreverent media company catering to a younger demographic that PENN deems appealing for its overall growth.
So at the Mahoning Valley racetrack-casino near Youngstown, it has spent the past four months converting space, updating food and beverage options, and installing TVs to create a more lively atmosphere complementing its staff handling sports bets.
“While the property took its first sports bet on January 1, 2023, the dining and entertainment experience was merely a speck of what it now has to offer,” according to a racino press release.
A ribbon-cutting will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, with the new bar and restaurant opening shortly after noon. The space features two 8-by-14-foot video walls, on which 18 different sporting events can be shown concurrently.
“This is the premier dining and sports betting experience our guests have been looking for and we are excited to open this new venue the weekend of the Big Game,” said Rob Swedinovich, the property’s general manager.
‘Barstool Sportsbook has it all’
At Hollywood Casino Columbus, the Barstool Sportsbook opening will be celebrated at noon Saturday, with former Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green making a special guest appearance.
A press release described the sportsbook as 12,800 square feet replacing the former H Lounge and o.h. sportsbar. The announcement said that in addition to the booths, high-top tables, and VIP recliner chairs in the new sportsbook, patrons can make use of 30 self-service betting kiosks around the property in addition to the betting windows. A restaurant has been set up with full viewing of new TVs.
“Barstool Sportsbook has it all,” said Rick Skinner, the casino’s general manager. “The largest big screens to watch the games, a dedicated brand-new bar, multiple ways for you to place your bet, and an exciting new menu with table games conveniently located outside of the entrance. It’s as immersive of an entertainment and gaming experience as you’ll find.”
While retail sportsbooks are not necessarily known as huge profit centers in and of themselves for casinos and racinos, operators note that they bring in additional customers who might not otherwise show up, producing spillover revenue from eating, drinking, and other types of gaming they might try.
New Barstool Sportsbooks are also planned from remodeling of PENN’s Toledo and Dayton properties, although specific timetables for their openings have not been announced.
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