Verona, N.Y. – With 17 big-screen televisions and six craft beers on tap, sports betting will open today at Turning Stone Casino Resort.
Betting will also begin today at Point Place Casino, in the Madison County town of Bridgeport. The first sports betting lounges in Central New York will allow gamblers to put money on everything from whether the Yankees win tonight to who will win the Super Bowl next February.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which runs both casinos, will hold a grand opening today of the sports betting lounge at Turning Stone, which sits just inside the main doors to the Tower Hotel. The lounge is in front of the Upstate Tavern, in the space where the buffet patio used to be.
“The Lounge with Caesar Sports will feature the most up-to-date elements in sports betting and cutting-edge technology,” said Oneida nation leader Ray Halbritter in a statement. The Oneidas also plan to open a sports betting lounge later this summer at their third casino, Yellow Brick Road Casino, in Chittenango.
All three will be operated by the Oneida nation in partnership with Nevada-based Caesar’s Entertainment. Caesar’s has 30 casinos in the U.S., including the iconic Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The company, which also runs Harrah’s resorts, has annual revenues of about $5 billion.
The sports gaming floor at Turning Stone contains a mix of high-top tables and blue leather chairs. Opposite the betting window is a long, translucent bar that offers craft beers and signature cocktails such as the “Down-the-Middle Margarita.” The menu, designed just for the sports lounge, features hamburgers, tacos and, of course, a Caesar salad.
To oversee the sports operations, the nation recruited Justin Arnett, who ran the sports booking operation for three years at the Venetian Resort Hotel in Las Vegas. Arnett, the Oneidas’ director of sportsbook operations, said sports betting at nation casinos will be user-friendly and begin at $5 a bet.
“We don’t want anyone to feel intimidated,” Arnett said.
At Turning Stone, sports fans can watch games on 17 screens, including a curved one that’s 9 feet high and 48 feet long. The nation said that screen is as sharp as the one that dominates Times Square, in New York City.
The three Oneida Nation casinos are among the eight sports betting lounges under development across Upstate New York. All eight are expected to open by fall, in time for the biggest betting season of them all.
“Football is king,” said Arnett. “Once the NFL season comes, it will be a madhouse in here – in a good way.”
Under state law, the casinos will only take bets from customers physically located within the sports lounges — there is no legal online betting.
The Oneidas hope to increase casino business and regional tourism by pulling in a new crowd of sports bettors, said spokesman Joel Barkin.
“Once we bring people to this property, they come back over and over,” Barkin said. “It will bring a high level of energy and a lot of new tourism.”
Gamblers can wager on professional and college sports, with one exception: Bets cannot be made on New York college teams, or on any collegiate event held in the state.