Bar & Sports: a match made in heaven

“You can’t fix perfection. But you can pour beer on it”, says the motto of the historic Buffalo Wild Wings national chain of bars. They did actually add something, down the years: watching sports. “Originally we only used the TV for music videos (remember those?). One day someone asked us to turn on the Ohio State game, and in the end, sports won out. Imagine that “. Any user of William Hill promo code could have told them what was going to be next: sports gaming and then sports betting.

Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery, founders of BWW, still remember the times in the 1980s “before wall-to-wall flat screens”. But they have also been very capable of looking at the future. Not only did they make ample use of those giant screens, to let patrons in their bars in the US, South America and Asia enjoy watching sports, along with wings and beer.  They added sport gaming and last fall they joined forces with MGM Resorts International and its sports betting venture, Roar Digital.

A multi-year partnership was born, the first such alliance between a national sports bar and a gaming leader. Craft beers go down better while watching your favourite football match on a megascreen, and even better if you can wager on it. Consumer experience is the name of the game. Buffalo Wild Wings is the largest sports bar brand in the United States, the owner of more than 1,200 restaurants in 10 countries. And “the ultimate place to get together with your friends, watch sports, drink beer and eat wings”.

Bars fight back, could be another name for this move. Sports books are moving fast to take position on this field too, with the ones in Sin City leading the charge. Las Vegas is the place for mega projects, with a series of giant venues competing for the title of “the largest in the world”. Like the new Circa, a 1.25 million-square-foot, 777-room hotel and casino, or the Westgate Superbook, sporting a 30,000-square-foot sportsbook with more than 350 theater-style seats, a 220-by-18-foot 4K video wall, a 60-seat bar facing the screen and a Clubhouse Lounge and VIP boxes for private parties.

Still, those giants were conceived first as betting places, though they offer also drinks and food and a varied entertainement package. They can be great fun and excitment, and yet the experience is something else than your favourite get together with your buddies. The bar. The place to drink beers (or whatever else you like) and socialize.  And watch sports together, sure enough. Now the new fashion of sports betting is spreading like wildfire, especially since it has gone mobile. Legalization has made it respectable as a form of entertainement. Bars want their share of the cake and to retain their clients. So they are lining up to introduce new technologies and multiple options.

Will the charm of the old, dear bar round the corner survive the onslaught? Enhanced fun or decadence? The future will tell.

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