With sports betting returning to Oregon, The Mill Casino , Hotel and RV Park on Highway 101 between North Bend and Coos Bay on the coast has decided to get in the game.
The property launched its kiosks last week and officials are optimistic it will drive traffic to the casino.
“We opened Tuesday and so far, so good,” said Katherine Hoppe, director of tourism and marketing. “We’ve been busy with the NFL and basketball.
The Mill is the second casino in the state to offer sports betting, following Chinook Winds in Lincoln City. The Mill has partnered with Betgenius and International Gaming Technology to handle the numbers and platform operations. There are six kiosks but no betting windows to start.
“We are extremely pleased to be the only casino in Southern Oregon to offer our guests a sports betting option,” said Terri Porcaro, CEO of The Mill Casino. “Our guests have been asking for a chance to bet on games ever since the Supreme Court opened the door to sports betting a year and a half ago.”
Hoppe said the plan is to go slow and see how the public reacts to the kiosks, which are strategically located on the casino floor and are adjacent to a sports bar that has 15 television screens and offers 20 different beers on tap, making it a convenient place where bettors can watch the games.
“We’re feeling good about the launch,” she said. “We have our regular casino customers, our business and convention customers and tourists. It’s something we can offer all our guests.”
The challenge is reaching the major population areas of Portland, Salem and Eugene along the I-5 corridor. The Mill is approximately 3 1/2 hours from Portland and around a two-hour drive from Eugene.
“Our initial marketing has been with the locals but we’re reaching out to the Eugene and Corvallis areas with digital billboards, direct mail and email blasts,” Hoppe said.
One dynamic facing The Mill is it has competition from the state itself in trying to attract customers. The Oregon Lottery controls mobile betting in the state and launched its phone betting last month. So if you want to bet without driving to Coos Bay, you can sign up for the app with the Lottery, open an account and bet with the state.
Hoppe said The Mill is OK with that.
“We are offering it as an additional opportunity for our guests,” she said. “We’re not looking to rush into anything. We have the kiosks and everyone seems pleased with those.”
Joe Bard, the director of slots for The Mill, said the sports betting kiosks not only are drawing additional customers, they’re sticking around the property longer.
“It seems to be keeping them on the floor,” he said.
Hoppe said if demand warrants it, The Mill can add additional kiosks. And if the kiosks are successful, the resort could consider a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, assuming the state would allow it.
“Right now, we’re focusing on our customer service and making sure our staff is properly trained to help with answering questions and making sure everyone has a positive experience,” she said.