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British bookmaker BetFred has managed to snag one of the last available sports betting slots in Pennsylvania by securing a partnership with Wind Creek Casino.
PA sports betting and online gambling must be done in partnership with one of the state’s land-based casinos. Almost all are either already spoken-for or elected not to apply for standalone licenses, so options are nearly exhausted for any future operators hoping to enter the market.
It’s a big deal, then, for BetFred to have struck this deal.
It remains to be seen if the partnership will extend to other verticals or remain sports-only. In the latter case, Wind Creek could still select a second partner for its online casino/poker products.
BetFred is one of the old-school High Street bookmakers.
It has been in the retail sports betting business since 1967 when it was founded by brothers Peter and Fred Done, with the business taking its name from the latter. The two had worked as runners for their father’s betting company, placing a big bet of their own on England to win the 1966 World Cup and using used their winnings to start their own shop.
That business has grown steadily over the ensuing fifty-plus years into what BetFred is today.
The company now operates over 1,600 retail locations in Europe, making it the world’s largest privately-owned retail sports betting operation. It has more recently expanded into the online realm too, using the OptimaMGS platform.
The Wind Creek Casino property was known as Sands Bethlehem until last summer.
Las Vegas Sands began construction on the property in 2007, completed it in 2009, and operated it until 2019. Last May, though, Sands sold the casino to Wind Creek Hospitality for $1.3 billion. The latter is a tribal organization, teh gaming entity of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.
Wind Creek is one of the state’s larger gambling venues. The casino itself is only slightly smaller than Parx, with 139,000 square feet of gaming area and over 3,000 slots. The property also includes a 302-room hotel, eight sit-down restaurants plus a food court, and three nightclubs.
Online gambling was probably at least one consideration contributing to the sale. Las Vegas Sands was founded and is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the most notorious opponent of online gambling. When Pennsylvania passed its online gambling legislation, it left a big question mark hanging over Sands Bethlehem.
On the one hand, if Adelson had gone ahead with online gambling at Sands, his hypocrisy would have undermined his lobbying efforts. On the other hand, for a casino the size of Sands to sit out would have amounted to leaving a small fortune on the table.
Considering the options, selling the property to a third party with no qualms about online gambling might have seemed like the most logical Plan C.