Buffalo Wild Wings considers adding sports betting

With that form of gambling now legal across the United States, the casual chain is exploring possible partnerships with bookmakers as well as offering the amenity itself.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Buffalo Wild Wings is considering the addition of sports betting to its restaurants as a way of reinvigorating the brand, a spokesman for parent company Inspire Brands confirmed to Restaurant Business.

He did not provide specifics, saying there are “no details yet.” But the casual chain told ESPN that it is exploring potential partnerships with established betting services as well as the possibility of running a sports book itself.

Other restaurant operations may follow suit in the wake of a May Supreme Court decision that essentially permits sports betting virtually anywhere in the United States. The ruling, the result of a case brought by the state of New Jersey, overturned the law that limited that form of gambling to Nevada.

Betting on sports is already legal now in New Jersey, Mississippi and Delaware, and West Virginia says it plans to OK the wagering by the start of the pro football season.

Wall Street analysts have predicted that a majority of the 50 states will likely allow sports betting within the next five years, noting the tax benefits.

Buffalo Wild Wings’ consideration of adding a sports book to its food and beverage services comes as Inspire is exploring ways of reversing a steep decline in sales and traffic. A publicly owned franchisee, 65-unit Diversified Restaurant Holdings, reported this week that its same-store sales for the second quarter slid 6.4%, a reflection of the “headwinds” facing the brand, said CEO David Burke.

The chain’s sales are down 9.5% year to date, according to Transaction Insights, a new transaction-based sales gauge from Technomic, the research sister of Restaurant Business.

Burke told investors that Inspire is working on a number of initiatives to bolster sales and traffic, from menu changes to marketing tweaks and new purchasing approaches. But he did not reveal details on what form those measures might take.

The importance of televised sports to Buffalo Wild Wings is reflected in the casual brand’s positioning slogan: “Wings. Beer. Sports.”

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