Buffalo Wild Wings will serve as a vendor for Tennessee’s sports betting market under its relationship with BetMGM. On Monday in Nashville, the Tennessee Lottery approved BWW’s application for involvement.
The relationship gave regulators a moment of pause, however, as Tennessee’s 2019 Sports Gaming Act doesn’t allow retail sportsbooks. There aren’t any casinos in the state.
BWW is not seeking to offer retail sports betting, and the locations cannot offer visitors any sort of device for gambling. Sports bettors must use their own cellphones, tablets, or even computers to place their wagers. BWW can’t provide a device.
The BWW-BetMGM relationship for sports betting dates back to late 2019.
“As the largest sports bar in the country, Buffalo Wild Wings has the opportunity to pioneer sports gaming experiences for fans, and we are taking the first critical step on that journey through our partnership with BetMGM,” Buffalo Wild Wings President Lyle Tick said at the time. “This is a landmark relationship between two preeminent experience brands that puts us in a position to innovate the current sports watching experience to bring the best of sports gaming to our guests.”
The sports bar chain has dozens of locations sprinkled around Tennessee. Some of the locations are near the state lines of neighboring states, giving BetMGM an ability to bring in bettors from states where online sports betting isn’t yet available, such as Georgia and Alabama.
The relationship was first tested in New Jersey before being implemented elsewhere.
Regulators at the TEL didn’t discuss whether BWW locations will in any way try to restrict access to BetMGM rivals in the Volunteer State, which include FanDuel and DraftKings. Neither FD nor DK has a sports betting partnership with BWW.
The coronavirus pandemic put a major damper on the partnership that was forged in late 2019. With the pandemic still ongoing, the full benefits of the partnership won’t yet be realized, but BWW being approved ahead of March Madness indicates a desire to leverage the partnership as much as possible for the popular basketball tournament. Tennessee began sports betting last November.
The deal will help BetMGM acquire new customers in Tennessee. “This multi-year relationship will strengthen as states adopt sports betting regulations, with strategies already in place to drive customer adoption, engagement and loyalty,” Adam Greenblatt, CEO of Roar Digital, said in 2019.
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