SugarHouse Casino this fall will open two lounges resembling sportsbooks at the Wells Fargo Center in partnership with the Philadelphia Flyers, the latest marriage involving professional athletics and the fast-growing world of legalized sports betting.
The SugarHouse lounges will aim to recreate the look and feel of the casino’s sportsbook, including scores of television screens showing sporting events and betting odds. There will be no anonymous cash betting kiosks or tellers, as there are at the casino. But SugarHouse ambassadors will coach patrons on downloading the casino’s sports-betting software and encourage them to wager on mobile devices.
“With Pennsylvania on the forefront of legalized sports gaming, we and our SugarHouse partners are excited to elevate the game-day experience at the Wells Fargo Center in a unique way,” Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, said in a statement.
The partnership between the Flyers, the arena, and the Fishtown casino is the latest union between legal gambling interests and professional sports, worlds that were once separated by walls that have crumbled since last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting.
Now betting operators are clamoring to strike deals with professional sports outlets to share in the synergies between gamblers and fans. So many deals are in play that some teams, professional leagues, media outlets, and sports venues may have multiple deals with competing betting operators.
SugarHouse — which is rebranding itself as Rivers Casino Philadelphia later this year — will become the official sportsbook of the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center. The National Hockey League has entered into partnerships with MGM Resorts, sports-betting operator William Hill, and daily fantasy sports operator FanDuel.
Another Wells Fargo tenant — the NBA’s 76ers — last year entered into a marketing deal with Caesars Entertainment, operator of Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack. Caesars will have a presence at Sixers games through advertising placements that now will compete with the permanent SugarHouse lounges for the attention of basketball fans.
Adding a media element to the competition, a national partnership between Fox Sports and the Stars Group has rebranded its New Jersey sports-betting operation, BetStars, as Fox Bet. Several Fox Sports on-air personalities are featured in the Fox Bet.
Fox Bet announced Thursday that it was also conducting a “soft launch” in Pennsylvania, where it is the sportsbook operator for the Mt. Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos. Once it gets final state regulatory approval, it would become the fifth online Pennsylvania sportsbook, along with PlaySugarHouse, BetRivers, Parx and FanDuel. FanDuel is associated with the Valley Forge Casino Resort.
SugarHouse’s agreement with the Wells Fargo Center includes a marketing partnership that covers advertising inside the arena’s bowl and throughout the concourse as well as radio, billboards, and digital media placements.
“This is much more than just the lounges, even though they’re a big part of it,” said Mattias Stetz, chief operating officer of Rush Street Interactive, the operator of SugarHouse in-casino and online sportsbooks. “We have radio spots, ads on TV on the concourses, and around the suites. It’s a pretty big deal.”
The SugarHouse lounges, open to all ticket-holders, are part of the larger, $265 million transformation underway at the Wells Fargo Center, including a massive new scoreboard, an all-inclusive event-level VIP club, and complete redesigns of the main concourse and the arena’s top level, the two levels housing the sportsbook-style lounges.
The SugarHouse 5,680-square-foot lounge on the south end of the arena’s main concourse level includes video screens, seating, and odds boards. Its 6,500-square-foot lounge at the top level will face the bowl so fans can watch the live action, while also watching an eight-foot-tall LED video wall. Both lounges include bars and food service, generating revenue for the arena.
“Fans can sit and watch a college football game on TV, and turn their heads slightly and see the ice or the basketball arena below," said Stetz.
The lounges will be open for all Flyers and Sixers games and may be open during some other sporting events, but not necessarily during concerts or entertainment events, such as Disney on Ice.
This story was updated Thursday to include Fox Bet’s announcement of its Pennsylvania launch.