Grand Falls Casino opens new Betfred sportsbook, days before Super Bowl Sunday

Friday 31st January 2020

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The Betfred Sports sportsbook is shown at the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort. The casino held a grand opening celebration for the sportsbook Thursday, a few days before Super Bowl LIV.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

The Betfred Sports sportsbook is shown at the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort. The casino held a grand opening for the sportsbook Thursday, a few days before Super Bowl LIV.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

Jacari Christion of Sioux Falls places a bet at the newly opened Betfred Sports sportsbook at the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort Thursday afternoon.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort General Manager Sharon Haselhoff is shown at the new Betfred Sports sportsbook at the casino. A grand opening for the sportsbook was held Thursday.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort Sportsbook General Manager Basil Hofer, left, stands with Betfred USA Sports Chief Operating Officer Bryan Bennett Thursday at the newly opened Betfred Sports sportsbook in the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

LARCHWOOD, Iowa -- With Super Bowl LIV only a few days away, the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort celebrated the grand opening of its new Betfred Sports sportsbook Thursday.

The 3,500-square-foot, $1.5 million sportsbook, located in a renovated former stage area adjacent to the main gaming floor, had a soft open Monday, followed by the grand opening a few days later. The casino partnered with the English sports gambling operator Betfred, with Betfred in charge of the sportsbook's day-to-day operations.

Bryan Bennett, chief operating officer of Betfred USA Sports, said Grand Falls is the first casino in the country to offer sports bets through Betfred, which has operated in Great Britain since 1967. So far, he said, the company has done well in its first foray into the states.

"It's been robust, as you would think, Tuesday was bigger than Monday, Wednesday was bigger than Tuesday, today's going to be bigger," Bennett said. "And it's going to keep going, Sunday obviously culminating with the Super Bowl."

The sportsbook can accommodate wagers on an enormous variety of professional and college-level games, as well as proposition (or "prop") bets, which are placed on elements of the game other than who wins and who loses.

"For the Super Bowl alone, we have probably 1,000 props, 1,000 different things you can bet on, just for the Super Bowl alone," he said.

Betfred is planning to launch an online app to accompany the physical sportsbook in the casino, which they're hoping to have up and running before the March Madness college basketball tournament.

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Enormous screens greet visitors at the sportsbook; the gray patterned carpet, white stone tabletops, black leather seats and dark metallic wall coverings are all brand new, all intended to create a glamorous, Las Vegas-like atmosphere.

"There will be some sportsbooks in Las Vegas that this would beat," said Sharon Haselhoff, the general manager at Grand Falls.

Grand Falls became the first casino in Northwest Iowa to allow sports betting back in early September. A temporary "Elite Sportsbook" was opened in a former VIP area in the casino to accommodate sports bettors; it has since closed, and the casino is currently trying to figure out what to do with the vacated space.

Jacari Christion of Sioux Falls, who placed a bet on a William & Mary college basketball game Thursday afternoon at Betfred, said the new area is nicer than what the casino had before.

"It's a lot more interactive. Over there (at the old sportsbook) you're kind of secluded," said Christion, who said he visits the casino "a few times a month."

Iowa casinos began the race to offer sports betting shortly after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a measure last May allowing bets on sporting events. Nearly all of Iowa's casinos immediately applied for sports wagering licenses after the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved application rules in July.

Situated in the farthest Northwest corner of the state, just east of the South Dakota border and south of the Minnesota border, Grand Falls could be well-positioned to attract wagerers from its neighbors to the north and west, where sports betting remains illegal.

"When sports wagering just became legal in August, you know, we were getting calls from, not just from South Dakota or Minnesota, we actually got a call from Montana, because we were going to be the closest sportsbook to that person in Montana," Haselhoff said.

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