BetRivers, Hall of Fame Village Apparently Punt Retail Sportsbook

If placing a legal wager at a sportsbook within punting distance of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was on your bucket list, well, that’s a little odd, but it’s going to remain on the list for the foreseeable future.

Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment’s plan to open a retail sportsbook in conjunction with BetRivers at Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio, won’t happen in time for Week 1 of the NFL season, and perhaps never. A spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission told Gaming Today that HOFV and BetRivers’ parent company Rush Street Interactive are believed to be “no longer partnered for a retail sportsbook.” The spokesperson added that HOFV would need to find another management services provider and “meet several other regulatory requirements.”

Spokespersons for HOFV have not responded to requests for information from Gaming Today and a BetRivers representative said there were no updates to share.

HOFV Expansion Included Sports Betting From Outset

HOFV announced a 10-year deal with RSI in December of 2021 touting the company’s “outstanding reputation, impressive sportsbook results in other markets, and the quality and experience of its team.” BetRivers sportsbooks are open in 10 states.

Of course, sports bettors can make wagers anywhere in Ohio through mobile apps. But Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company president and CEO Michael Crawford envisioned a sportsbook as part of an ambitious plan to add entertainment options including a waterpark and upscale restaurants to a footprint that houses the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, scene of the first NFL preseason game of each season.

Micro-betting site Betr gained its online access to Ohio through a partnership with HOFV as state law allows for sports venues to ally for both online and retail operations.

Crawford was enthusiastic about what a HOFV sportsbook experience could entail in a 2022 interview with Gaming Today:

“For us as a destination. we’re going to couple sports betting with virtual reality gaming, Topgolf swing suites, one-of-a-kind food and beverage concepts, outdoor rides, and attractions. … You must have programming and you have to pulse people through for different reasons. And we all know sports gives them a reason to come back over and over whether it’s basketball season, baseball, hockey, whatever the case may be, and, of course, for us being a destination already with the pro hall of fame.”

Crawford told Axios before the most recent Hall of Fame inductions that the 120-acre, $600 million project is 80% complete, and readying for a third phase.

Recession Blamed for Downturn in HOFV Economics

The project showed signs of blooming with the opening of a Don Shula steakhouse, Benson Stadium hosting USFL games, and a ground-breaking in December for a $117 million football-themed indoor waterpark. But financial problems blamed on the recession have beset the operation.

  • In April, Crawford agreed to a $50,000 pay reduction over the next four years amid layoffs.
  • HOFV president Michael Levy left the company effective May 5.
  • Last year investors approved a reverse split of stock because it was in jeopardy of being removed from the Nasdaq for hovering less than $1 for much of 2022.

About the Author
Brant James

Brant James

Senior Writer
Brant James is a senior writer who covers the sports betting industry and legislation at Gaming Today. An alum of the Tampa Bay Times, ESPN.com, espnW, SI.com, and USA Today, he's covered motorsports and the NHL as beats. He also once made a tail-hook landing on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rode to the top of Mt. Washington with Travis Pastrana. John Tortorella has yelled at him numerous times.

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