Hall of Fame Village, Dave & Busters, and Maxim Make (Sports) Bets On Future

Written By Brant James on April 8, 2021 - Last Updated on August 12, 2021

Sports betting and the ever-more-enticing revenues it can foster continue to make for odd branding and business alliances. All this just two months after JP Morgan revised an estimate of the potential value of the US sports betting market by 2025 to $9.2 billion annually.

This week Maxim – which, yes, still exists – announced plans for MaximBet sports betting and online casino platforms through a partnership with the Carousel Group iGaming company. Sinclair Broadcast Group‘s regional sports affiliates were re-branded as Bally’s in time for the Major League Baseball season.

Less than a month after Buffalo Wild Wings launched an in-bar wagering channel powered by BetMGM, the Dave & Buster’s franchise of restaurant/bar/arcades marketing itself to kids and adults alike, declared its own sports betting ambitions.

Said CEO Brian Jenkins in a call with financial analysts:

 “We feel like sports betting could represent a meaningful opportunity for this brand. This is a wave that’s really just kind of beginning.”

There are currently 140 Dave & Busters locations in North America, 19 in jurisdictions with legal sports betting in some form and stage of roll-out: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and Ontario, Canada. 

Hall of Fame Village debuts fantasy platform as precursor to sports betting in Ohio

And the drumbeat continues in Ohio, where Hall of Fame Resorts & Entertainment CEO Mike Crawford underscored how important the legalization of sports betting could be there in an investor call.

HOFV, which went public in July, 2020, and last week announced the franchises in its stakeholder-based Hall of Fantasy League, plans to develop the property around the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton into a self-described Disneyland of Football. The Hall of Fame wants to be like Disneyland in general – a media company, fantasy league and sports betting platform of football while leveraging the weight of the National Football League legends enshrined there. 

With the second Ohio sports betting bill expected in Columbus within two weeks,  PlayUSA asked Crawford why sports betting remains of interest to his company.

Crawford: Our new fantasy football experience has really allowed us to think about creating multiple dimensions to a sports betting partnership. There is a contemplation around if it were to be legalized in Ohio, having a sports betting facility or the opportunity to engage in sports betting in some way, shape or form. Maybe it’s mobile, maybe it’s through brick and mortar. 

We’ve become more focused around what the opportunity as it relates to our three business verticals could be.

What are you doing about it?

Crawford: We’ve hired a consultant to sort of advise us around how to think about it in the context of where they’re hearing sports betting could potentially go to the angles we can take. We’ve spoken with some lobbyists that are working on behalf of gaming companies. It’s our job to sort of stay informed and think of our strategy as sports betting continues to evolve here in Ohio.

And I think we’re doing a good job of that. In the meantime, even as early as when we went public, we had started conversations with some potential partners, just exploring their interest in Ohio and how they thought about a potential partnership with a company like ours, just getting their thoughts.

 How active have you been lobbying legislators for sports betting in Ohio?

Crawford: I think what we’ve done is just try to say we are a sports and entertainment company powered by professional football. We have a destination, we have these virtual experiences, we have a media arm and we have a lot to offer our sports betting partner, if it becomes legal, that we’d be a great place for it to materialize. And that’s really been our point as we’ve sort of positioned it. But I can tell you that I know those same arguments are being made by sports teams, restaurants and bars, the lottery system. Everybody has an angle to play on this, and I’m not suggesting that one is wrong or one is right.

But I think that if there’s a company that brings these experiences to life, I think we have a lot to offer. 

Are you close to signing a sports betting partner?

Crawford: No, we’re not. We want to be careful and really evaluate the right partner. When we take on partners, we like to have long-term partnerships. And, so, each one of them are unique and have very different aspects of what they represent. I think that we’re still in the exploratory stage, albeit, we’re trying to do that as quickly as we can to evaluate it and for them to evaluate us.

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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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