Skee-Ball, Weddings, and Betting: Hello, 2024

Sports betting has become the avocado of 2024. A lot of people think it goes with everything. But for every avocado toast, there’s an avocado pie.

Dave & Buster’s and Betting on the Wedding are the latest to gamble that a country where 40 states and jurisdictions have legal sports betting wants what they’re cooking. State politicians and regulators are finding it increasingly distasteful.

Only BOTW, devised by wedding industry veteran Stacy Tasman Stahl and her husband Greg Stahl put “betting” with real money out front. The family-centric arcade/restaurant Dave & Buster’s layers it.

At Dave & Buster’s, app-wielding rewards members would “digitally compete with each other, earn rewards, and unlock exclusive perks” on Skee-Ball and other arcade games against their adult friends.

But later in the press release announcement, it asserted that gamification software firm Lucra was enlisted as a partner to “help to destigmatize cash-based competition by evolving it into a fun, friendly, and social experience.”

Dave & Buster’s may have been emphasizing social betting initially, and with a few months until rollout, it could pivot that way after a wave of criticism from major media outlets. Many outlets coalesced around the idea of a “friendly” $5 wager after CNBC’s initial reporting although dollar figures aren’t mentioned in the initial press release.

Gaming Today has asked the company to clarify its project.

In a press release, Dave & Buster’s SVP of Entertainment and Attractions Simon Murray said: “This new partnership gives our loyalty members real-time, unrivaled gaming experiences, and reinforces our commitment to continuing to elevate our customer experience through innovative, cutting-edge technology.”

Both projects seem to fall within the peer-to-peer skill-game “betting” spectrum, which has in the past not alarmed state gambling regulators, even in states where sports betting wasn’t legal. Regulators in Ohio, however, seem alarmed.

A spokesperson for the Ohio Casino Control Commission expressed “serious concerns” about Dave & Buster’s plan to Legal Sports Report because it “appears to violate Ohio law.”

The spokesperson told Gaming Today of BOTW: “It appears unlikely this would be permitted in Ohio, as without more information it’s difficult to tell how it fits into state gambling laws.”

Last week Illinois Rep. Dan Didech filed House Bill 5832, which would “prohibit a family amusement establishment from facilitating wagering on amusement games” and “prohibit a family amusement establishment from engaging in advertising that promotes wagering on amusement games.” The bill has nearly 30 co-sponsors.

Have Americans Been Groomed to Bet on Weddings?

There’s no vagueness at BOTW, where attendees would also be required to download an app, deposit, and between all the marriage activity, find a moment to steal a glance at a phone. According to a press release, attendees “bet on the most fun and sentimental moments at a wedding, like guessing the first dance song or betting on whether or not the groom will cry when the bride walks down the aisle.” Players can customize the bets before the ceremony and proceeds will go to the honeymoon if a handle plateau is reached.

BOTW cites two weddings as case studies of success. The Stahls claim they had run nuptial wedding rings by hand previously at friends’ weddings.

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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