Rivers Casino unveils $5M lounge with 360 degrees of TV screens for sports gambling
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.”
Casino GM Bill Keena tapped #Pens mascot Iceburgh & Mrs. T’s Pierogi to ring the bell and celebrate the new sportsbook to a shower of confetti followed by Styx’s “Renegade.” pic.twitter.com/Wia4ZrgMrK
— Natasha Lindstrom (@NewsNatasha) September 30, 2019
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 .