By the time you are reading this, chances are you heard about it already, as the news has made national headlines. But, we can still discuss it from an operator perspective – Dave & Busters is going to allow their loyalty members to place small bets on the outcomes of different games.

Dave & Busters Goes Betting

The story was published this morning by CNBC, and its made the rounds enough that even political comedy shows are bringing it up. To quote the gist of it from the article:

Customers can soon make a friendly $5 wager on a Hot Shots basketball game, a bet on a Skee-Ball competition or on another arcade game. The betting function, expected to launch in the next few months, will work through the company’s app.

The story notes that there are five million loyalty members, but that it will be available in “44 states” – likely excluding the six US states where gambling is illegal. The company helping D&B pull this off is called Lucra; the story also gets into the massive amounts of money that sports betting generates.

Considering the angles

Reactions that I’ve seen on this so far, at least from within the arcade community, have been mostly negative – I haven’t ventured into gambling circles though to see what they think about it. I imagine if its a success, then we’ll see other grown-up chains adopt their own things, or an app to allow independent arcades to take a crack at it. If that happens though, it seems to me that we’ll be entering into a little bit of a minefield though – I’m not sure that the term “Family Entertainment Center” can really apply to a place that promotes an activity reserved for adults. Then again, many FECs also serve alcohol, so maybe I’m overthinking it.

I recall there was some hype on skill-based casino games, where you could get regular video games at a casino, they just feature some betting options. A quick search seems to indicate that those have been a moderate success, although they haven’t completely replaced your typical luck-based options.

One thing that comes to mind is I know a few people in the industry who get rather upset if anyone uses the term “kiddie casinos” when referring to arcades. Although it is only used to refer to places with redemption, given that 98% of the arcades out there have some redemption of some kind in place, it does tend to lump in the super minority too.

In that regard, could this end up backfiring in a litigious way? I recall efforts to sue Chuck E. Cheeses in places like California over their redemption, levying the “kiddie casino” accusation against them. That’s never held water, but when you have a major chain actively promoting gambling, perhaps it suddenly could. I don’t imagine that we’ll be seeing CECs embrace this though, unless they decide to see if the grown-ups want to start betting on how a kids game of skeeball goes.

That would be a really bad idea though, given how often adults already start getting into mass brawls over tickets already. Would we see that at D&Bs? Probably not. The issue at CEC probably stems from emotions running high because kids are in the mix and people get hyper-defensive whenever they are slighted in that kind of situation.

What do you think? Could this be a good or a bad thing for our industry? Could I be overthinking it and we won’t see much of a change, or any negative worries I have are unfounded? If its successful, will more arcade developers start including betting modes in the games?

About the author: arcadehero View all posts by

I’m a lifelong fan of video games and I have been operating my own arcade, Arcade Galactic in West Valley City, Utah since 2008. Soft spots in my heart for Atari, Sega, and Nintendo.




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