Wind Creek Bethlehem And Betfred Preparing For Sports Betting Launch

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Pennsylvania will be getting a 14th retail sports betting site and 10th online sportsbook within months from Wind Creek Bethlehem casino and its partner, Betfred.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a sports betting operator license Wednesday morning for Wind Creek, which said it expects to begin construction of the now-closed casino’s sportsbook in August and complete it in November.

Kathy McCracken, the casino’s general manager, told the board in its monthly meeting held by teleconference call that Betfred’s online/mobile site will launch before the retail sportsbook opens, but she did not give a time frame for that.

A gaming board spokesman said that at this point, Betfred has not applied to test its sports betting site for the public, which will be run using a platform provided by Scientific Games.

Betfred already  in Iowa, Colorado markets

Pennsylvania will be the third U.S. state in which longtime British oddsmaker Betfred operates through its subsidiary, Las Vegas-based Betfred USA Sports. The company this year began servicing casinos in Iowa and Colorado, with plans to provide digital sportsbook sites in both states as well.

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With its new approval, Wind Creek will become the last of Pennsylvania’s sizable casinos to offer a sportsbook after having paid the state’s $10 million license fee. It leaves little Lady Luck Nemacolin as the only casino to so far opt out.

The second-largest revenue generator among Pennsylvania’s casinos, Wind Creek was purchased in May 2019 from Las Vegas Sands for $1.3 billion by Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians and its subsidiary, Wind Creek Hospitality.

McCracken said the retail sportsbook will be located within the present space of Buddy V’s Ristorante, with 79 TV monitors and 13 self-service kiosks in addition to betting windows.

“It’s something we all feel the property needed for some time, just to have an area where you can watch sports, and now we’ll have the betting on top of it,” McCracken said.

Two other online sportsbooks planned in 2020

There are nine online sportsbooks currently in Pennsylvania, but it is not clear if the new one from the Wind Creek-Betfred partnership will itself actually become the 10th. Plans are also pending from Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino and the future Philadelphia Live! Casino & Hotel to launch online wagering this year.

While it is a slow time now for sports betting considering all of the league shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the new sites presumably will want to be up and running by late summer to take advantage of the NFL’s planned season.

Wind Creek also paid the state a $10 million fee to have online casino games, but it has not indicated a time frame for when those might begin.

The casino in the Lehigh Valley has been closed since March 15 while awaiting announcement by the state that the region’s large entertainment venues can reopen under operating restrictions. It is among nine casinos in areas where the coronavirus health threat is deemed still too risky for them to reopen.

Photo provided by Shutterstock

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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