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Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company Approved For Retail And Mobile Sports Betting

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • The Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (HOFV) has been approved for mobile and retail sports betting.
  • The Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company is the commercial arm of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
  • BetRivers will be operating the retail location while new startup Betr will power the mobile betting component.

The sports betting system in Ohio is starting to come together in advance of the January 1, 2023 launch date. Earlier today, a couple of interesting developments emerged around the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company (HOFV). HOFV is a company ‘leveraging the power and popularity of professional football and its legendary players’ in partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. More accurately, the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company is the commercial arm of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. HOFV owns the Hall of Fame Village, which they describe as ‘a multi-use sports, entertainment and media destination centered around the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s campus.’

Ever since the demise of PASPA opened the door to legal sports betting in the United States, HOFV has been angling to get involved. It now looks like they’ll be ready to launch in early 2023. They have announced their approval by the Ohio Casino Control Commission for retail and mobile sports betting under HB29. Here’s the relevant paragraph from their press release:

The Ohio Casino Control Commission provided the required authorization for HOFV to gain licensing for a physical sports operation – called a sportsbook – as well as an online betting platform, under Ohio’s sports betting law HB29. Sports betting will become legal in Ohio on New Year’s Day, 2023, when anyone in the state that is of legal betting age will be able to place wagers.

I really hope that one day the US gaming industry will stop pretending like no one in the country is familiar with sports betting. Thanks to HOFV for patronizingly explaining to the unwashed masses what a sportsbook is. Anyway, they’ve partnered with Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers brand for the retail component. There will be a BetRivers Sportsbook location (remember, a ‘sportsbook’ is a place where physical sports betting takes place) at the Hall of Fame Village. You’ll think I’m making this next part up but I’m not–the ‘sportsbook’ (eg: a place were people bet on various sporting events) will be in the Hall of Fame Village’s ***FAN ENGAGEMENT ZONE**!! It’s all about the ‘fan engagement’:

The HOFV/RSI retail sportsbook will be named “BetRivers Sportsbook” and will be located at the Hall of Fame Village’s Fan Engagement Zone, a sports and entertainment-themed promenade. The Fan Engagement Zone will offer rooftop views of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and will be an active hub for guests to go before, during and after events to have fun, dine, and socialize. BetRivers will provide fans a new and enhanced way to interact with their favorite sports, all conveniently from the HOFV campus in Canton, Ohio.  

The term ‘fan engagement’ is officially the worst buzzword/phrase to come out of the US sports betting industry. File it away with ‘new normal’ and ‘circle back’. It’s a weasel term that professional sports teams and leagues use to try and rationalize their sports betting cash grab. It’s not that they want to take bets or profit therefrom–they just want to ‘engage with fans’. The equation is simple:

  1. People enjoy betting on sports.
  2. Bookmakers offer this service.
  3. Bookmakers receive a profit for this service.

Pretty simple, right? The good news is that BetRivers will run a professional sportsbook in the ‘Fan Engagement Zone’ (why does that remind me of ‘Demilitarized Zone’?). The mobile component is where things could potentially get interesting. HOFV is partnering with Betr for mobile betting. Betr is a company that specializes in microbetting best known for the involvement of YouTube influencer turned surprisingly good boxer Jake Paul as a co-founder. Paul gets most of the media ink, but the other co-founder is a very sharp guy with a strong rep in the sports betting industry–Simplebet co-founder Joey Levy. Simplebet is arguably the true pioneer of microbetting, which has reached actual trend status in the gaming industry.

Microbetting is here to stay and to those of us who are familiar with the industry its popularity is not a surprise. It’s just live betting taken to a more detailed iteration. A microbetting focused mobile app (which you can also call a ‘mobile sportsbook’) is inevitable and credit to Paul/Levy for ‘reading the tea leaves’ about this emerging trend. I love seeing stuff like this and as with any other industry the more innovation and new ideas the better for sports betting.

What I’m not at all sold on is Betr’s ‘micro exclusive’ strategy. Even ‘new generation’ bettors are going to want to bet sides and totals–or at least have that option. Stay tuned.

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