Rivers Casino unveils $5M lounge with 360 degrees of TV screens for sports gambling | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Rivers Casino unveils $5M lounge with 360 degrees of TV screens for sports gambling

Natasha Lindstrom
1745708_web1_ptr-riversportsbook2-100119
Natasha Lindstrom | Tribune-Review
Rivers Casino General Manager Bill Keena, at the podium, celebrates the grand opening of the BetRivers Sportsbook lounge on Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. The $5 million buildout amid the rising popularity of sports betting replaces what was formerly Levels Lounge.
1745708_web1_ptr-riversportsbook1-100119
Natasha Lindstrom | Tribune-Review
People began placing bets on sporting events from a new $5 million, 5,500-square-foot lounge named BetRivers Sportsbook at Rivers Casino on the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 30, 2019.
1745708_web1_ptr-riversportsbook3-100119
Natasha Lindstrom | Tribune-Review
Rivers Casino debuted its new sports betting room for Monday night’s Steelers game.

While tailgaters sweated outside Heinz Field in the muggy weather, another black-and-gold-clad crowd gathered hours before Monday night’s Steelers game in the air-conditioned comfort of River Casino’s latest addition — a 5,500-square-foot lounge for sports gambling.

People placing bets or simply checking out the new sportsbook digs relaxed in plush recliners while drink servers took their orders.

“It’s beautiful, really nice. There’s plenty of room,” said Wayne Parsons, 55, of Ellwood City as he sipped on an iced tea. “I’m down here for the game tonight, so I can make a wager on the Steelers or the Bengals, and come back and collect.”

Sporting events of all types — football, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, the UFC — splashed across a nearly 360-degree view of TVs encircling viewers — including two 50-foot-by-7-foot LED monitors and two dozen 86-inch flat screens.

“There’s no bad seat in the whole room,” Rivers Casino General Manager Bill Keena said shortly after unveiling the renovated space.

$5M renovation replaces temporary sportsbook lounge

The casino pumped more than $5 million into the new lounge, named BetRivers Sportsbook.

“I don’t think there is one casino in Las Vegas that has a nicer, more state-of-the-art sportsbook than this one,” Keena said. “It’s something I think all of Pittsburgh can be very proud of.

Chicago-based DMAC Architecture designed what the casino bills as its “ultra-luxurious sports lounge.” It can seat 195 people and features 33 self-service betting kiosks and six betting windows. “

The space was formerly occupied by Levels Lounge.

”It’s more open and there’s lots of different seating options,” said Tom Rejbicz, 59, of Pittsburgh’s Troy Hill neighborhood. “It’s better than a bookie, you bet right here.”

More “tweaks” and features are on the way, including a food kiosk with runners who will bring dishes to guests in their seats, Keena said.

“The integrated bar into this sportsbook is a very smart move that we did,” Keena said. “Some people are going to be wanting to watch games and play video poker at the bar. We’re going to add booths in the back that people can reserve. There are going to be people who want to have parties in here.”

The casino’s temporary sportsbook opened in December 2018.

Since then, the Rivers sportsbook has become one of the highest-performing in the state.

‘We didn’t go big enough’

Between November and June, the North Shore casino — with a view out its front door of Heinz Field — brought in more than $58 million from in-person and online sports betting, the second highest among the state’s eight legal sportsbooks, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reports. SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia brought in nearly $72 million over the same period.

Keena declined to provide an update Monday on the value of its betting handle or revenue reports. He said that sports betting has proved “extremely popular,” with the prior space often getting filled to standing-room only.

“In fact, I sent my CEO a text that says, ‘We didn’t go big enough,’ ” Keena said of the new lounge. “That’s how popular it’s been.”

This marks the first full NFL season with legal sports betting available across Pennsylvania and a dozen more states. That expansion beyond Nevada’s borders is expected to draw an additional 1.2 million players to sportsbooks across the country compared to last year, the American Gaming Association estimates.

Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie opened its sportsbook in July, and the Meadows Racetrack & Casino in Washington County is building one.

Some 38 million adults, or 15% of the U.S. population, plan to bet on NFL games this season, an American Gaming Association study shows. About 1 in 4 Americans said they would bet on NFL games if it was legal and convenient in their state, the study found.

Sports betting is allowed in 13 states: Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. There are 14 sportsbook online apps and 10 brick-and-mortar books in Pennsylvania.

Rivers Casino’s digital and in-casino sports wagering operator is Rush Street Interactive PA LLC, which operates BetRivers.com and PlaySugarHouse.com.

The BetRivers Sportsbook lounge will be open 10 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.