As Buffalo Wild Wings rolled out its annual football promotions, the chain made a bigger splash via a new deal with MGM Resorts International.
The partnership, through MGM’s Roar Digital, will bring sports betting into Buffalo Wild Wings locations, which will also now open in MGM properties.
The rollout of the betting – on BetMGM, MGM’s mobile betting platform – won’t immediately be available and will begin testing later this year in New Jersey. The partnership, along with new football programming, falls in line with a recommitment to sports made by Buffalo Wild Wings earlier this year.
“Simply put, we are all about providing experiences that make Buffalo Wild Wings the go-to destination on game day,” said Brandon Gill, Buffalo Wild Wings director of experience and gaming. “All of our programming is about positioning B-Dubs as the great American sports bar, where we are offering experiences that fans can’t get anywhere else.
“We feel we have the unique opportunity to truly revolutionize how fans watch sports and interact with sports gaming through the BetMGM platform.”
Roar Digital is MGM’s sports betting venture, done in a 50/50 partnership with GVC Holdings.
“Our partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings is an important development in MGM and Roar’s position as the leader in sports entertainment and betting,” MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said. “With more than 1,200 sports bars across the country, Buffalo Wild Wings is firmly established as a ‘go-to’ venue for sports viewing in all of its markets. Adding access to MGM’s properties and the BetMGM mobile app will create unique customer experiences and redefine how fans enjoy sports.”
Gill said the partnership is expected to improve traffic and sales. The American Gaming Association released a survey last week that found 75% of bettors saying they’re more likely to watch a game, and 15% of the U.S. population is planning to bet on football this season.
Legislative variables will make rollouts unpredictable, but Gill said to expect the effort to expand to Nevada, New Hampshire, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa in the next 12 months or so following the New Jersey testing.
The first product from the partnership is Picks and Props, a mobile-only football game that’s free to play. It gives users the ability to compete for non-cash prizes, including a trip to Las Vegas.
BetMGM’s free-to-play game is a workaround of sorts to get consumers used to the platform for when the sports betting options are rolled out. The game is accessed through Buffalo Wild Wings’ Blazin’ Rewards app. Gill said the MGM partnership is a further expansion of participatory experiences in Buffalo Wild Wings locations, like trivia, and a reason for the Picks and Props game.
“Based on where legislation stands, the vast majority of Americans will not be able to actually gamble in a Buffalo Wild Wings sports bar,” Gill said. “However, with Picks and Props, everyone will be able to familiarize themselves with a sports gambling experience without the risk of wagering their own money, but with the reward of potentially winning fantastic prizes.”
As the two companies work out the expansion of the BetMGM platform in-restaurant, the agreement also includes at least three locations to open in MGM properties, including by the middle of next year in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino by the middle of next year.
The physical expansion is an added benefit to partnering with MGM, which offered the “best brand in the gaming business,” according to Gill. MGM is the official gaming partner of the MLB, NHL, and NBA.
Gill called the coming months a “transformational time in sports,” and the company leadership believes it can help redefine the role of retail in sports gaming.
While the MGM partnership could prove to be transformative and draw in a whole new customer base, Buffalo Wild Wings is also making sure it’s still focusing on what many come to its restaurants for – for example, it’s rolling out a new $5 menu for the football season.