Buffalo Wild Wings explores adding sports betting
Trey Wingo applauds Buffalo Wild Wings for exploring the possibility of sports betting in its restaurants. (1:06)
Wings. Beer. Sports. And bets? Buffalo Wild Wings is looking to get into the bookmaking game.
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The popular sports bar chain, which operates in all 50 states and internationally, says it is exploring the newly expanded sports betting space in the U.S.
“As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests,” a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson said in a statement to ESPN. “We are actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand.”
Buffalo Wild Wings’ interest in sports betting was first reported by Las Vegas publication Gaming Today.
In May, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a federal law that had restricted legal sports betting to primarily Nevada for the last 26 years. Since the court’s ruling, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, Delaware, Mississippi and New Jersey have begun offering Las Vegas-style sports betting. West Virginia is expected to be up and running by the start of the NFL season, and analysts predict that more than half of the states will have legal sports betting within five years.
Founded in 1982, Buffalo Wild Wings transformed the local sports bar into a national chain, with some locations featuring an almost Las Vegas-sportsbook feel with walls of giant TVs tuned in to a variety of games and sporting events.
Licensing requirements to offer sports betting vary by state but likely would require Buffalo Wild Wings to partner with a current gaming operator. The company said it wouldn’t elaborate further on the issue for now.
In June 2017, Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith blamed slumping sales on millennials, saying in a letter to shareholders that millennial consumers are more attracted to, among other things, ordering delivery from restaurants and eating quickly. Having fewer consumers in restaurants also hurt alcohol sales, where Buffalo Wild Wings pulls in its highest margins.
The brand responded by building smaller establishments called B-Dubs Express but is still hoping to drive sales back to alcohol by testing self-serve beer walls — and potentially adding sports betting to the revenue stream.
The company was acquired by Arby’s in November for $2.9 billion.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell contributed to this report.