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After the New York State Gaming Commission gave the go-ahead for sports betting in a handful of upstate casinos this past summer, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo has been poised to offer wagering to customers.
The months-long wait is over as the casino opened its doors last Friday morning with bettors being greeted with a red carpet rollout. Among the confetti and popping champagne, Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. placed a $40 wager for the local Bills to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.
Dressed in a custom-made Buffalo Sabres sweater, Armstrong called the opening of the new sportsbook, “monumental.” Bettors will be greeted at the Seneca casino with kiosks and teller windows to take their wagers.
To streamline the betting process, the casino also offers an offline app that allows bettors to make their wagers then take it to one of the casino’s kiosks to place bets in a quick transaction.
Although online betting via mobile app is not yet available in New York, Armstrong is hopeful that legislators will soon approve legislation to jumpstart betting in the Empire State.
“Brick and mortar (betting) is going to be substantial profit, but we’re also waiting for (online betting) to come in, maybe next year through legislation,” said Armstrong on opening day.
Armstrong told the media that the Seneca Nation’s Salamanca and Niagara Falls casinos could be next in line for sports betting with windows opening over the next two weeks to accommodate customers.
Seneca Nation expects that customers will flock to experience sports betting at a local level, but declined to specify how much revenue they expect annually.
Holly Gagnon, Seneca Gaming’s CEO, told The Buffalo News, “I think we really expect for Buffalo to be much more active than some of the other markets (in the state) because Buffalo is such a great sports town.”
Seneca Nation has signed an exclusive deal as the sportsbook partner of the Buffalo Sabres, increasing its profile on a larger scale with exposure on the hockey franchise’s marketing platforms. The casino also opened a sports lounge at the Sabres’ home arena, KeyBank Center, in October.
The Sabres’ owner, Kim Pegula, said at the time that the lounge could open the doors to legal on-site betting someday if legislators allowed arena betting. Similar measures have been passed in Illinois and the district of Washington D.C. where sports stadiums and arenas are allowed to house sportsbooks for betting.
“As state law changes we look forward to partnering again with Seneca to see if there’s any ways that we can grow with them as well in the future,” Pegula told NBC 2 WGRZ at the opening of the Seneca Sports Lounge in October.
Pegula’s company, Pegula Sports and Entertainment, also owns the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the group hopes future renovations to the team’s New Era Field will include more betting-centric outlets for customers.
Lawmakers in New York will once again debate the expansion of sports betting, including possibly an online-only option, in early 2020 as the state looks for new ways to stave off a $6 billion dollar budget deficit.
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