PROGRESS: Grand Falls Casino opens new sportsbook, plans new hotel wing

Monday 30th March 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 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 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.

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.

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 at the casino's newly opened Betfred Sports sportsbook.

Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

LARCHWOOD, Iowa -- A grand new sportsbook has opened at Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort, and by this summer a new wing will be added to the hotel.

The 3,500-square-foot, $1.5 million sportsbook, located in a renovated former stage area adjacent to the main gaming floor, had its grand opening in late January. 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.

Meanwhile, the hotel part of the Grand Falls complex is set to expand significantly this year.

In a phone interview, Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort General Manager Sharon Haselhoff said the hotel is adding 66 rooms in a new wing, bringing the total number of rooms to 163. "We're really excited about that."

Construction began last fall on the new wing and should be complete by late spring or early summer. The new hotel wing will have more double-queen rooms, which Haselhoff described as "one of the most requested rooms."

The new wing will have rooms on the terrace level, which allows guests to walk right out to the pool area; several rooms will offer balcony views. A new skywalk going around the outside of the building will help guests get from the new wing to the rest of the complex.

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.

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Betfred is planning to launch an online app to accompany the physical sportsbook in the casino.

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 Haselhoff.

Grand Falls became the first casino in Northwest Iowa to allow sports betting in early September. A temporary "Elite Sportsbook" was opened in a former VIP area in the casino to accommodate sports bettors.

Jacari Christion of Sioux Falls, who placed a bet on a William & Mary college basketball game at Betfred during the grand opening in January, said the new sportsbook 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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Lifestyles Reporter

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