Why Some Kroger Locations May Soon Allow Gambling
Grocery stores used to be solely for grocery shopping. You could cruise in, grab a pound of radicchio, splurge on a camembert brick, and peel out of the parking lot onto the next thing. But, those times are long gone and, since then, grocery stores in the U.S. have emerged as a one-stop-shop for a million different services. These days, you can get your photos developed at Walmart. At Midwest grocery chain Giant Eagle, shoppers can take their kids to the Eagle's Nest — a child care service that watches little ones while adults get the shopping done — for free. Some grocery stores have introduced hot bar food buffets, and many have even been successful enough to draw traffic away from restaurants, says RetailWire.
In fact, the word grocery originally meant a place people went to drink and socialize. It's the kitschy reason why many fashionable bars and restaurants across New York City have adopted the word into their names, like low-lit venue Arlene's Grocery in the Lower East Side or Jeffrey's Grocery in Greenwich Village. Now, it looks like there might be a new sheriff in supermarket town, and its name is gambling. (Yes, really.) Here's why some Kroger locations may soon allow it.
Sports gambling kiosks are here (almost)
According to Cleveland.com, Kroger has applied for gambling licenses in order to add sports gambling to its list of offerings across select Ohio locations. Grocery chain Acme Fresh Market has already received approval for a gambling license in its Parma, Ohio store. Instead of sit-down tables, these grocers are applying for the installation of sports gambling kiosks, and Kroger has reportedly been pre-approved for 42 of them across Ohio. More than 1,1000 different businesses have already been pre-approved to install these kiosks in their stores. If all goes to plan, Kroger shoppers will be able to place bets starting January 1, 2023.
If sports gambling kiosks seem like an odd addition to your local supermarket, consider the advent of the grocery store bar. New York grocer DeCiccio & Sons was the first to build an in-store bar 13 years ago. His customers may have been excited, but competing grocers thought the idea was absurd, reports Grocery Dive. Yet, now, grocery store bars have become largely commonplace and they promote sales in a big way. The Wall Street Journal says grocery store bars invite customers to stick around for longer, calling the enterprise "the latest step in efforts by supermarkets, a famously low-margin business, to make more money by keeping shoppers in their stores longer and getting them to spend more while they are there." The same could be presumed of these gambling kiosks.
VinePair points out that grocery store bars are also a huge opportunity for drawing shoppers back to in-store grocery shopping and away from the competition of delivery apps and subscription-based seasonal meal kits. A recent Coresight Research survey found that nearly 60% of U.S. shoppers utilized online grocery services in 2020 and 2021, a dramatic increase from just 36.8% in 2019, per Supermarket News. Sports gambling kiosks could promote in-store shopping in the same way.
John Nehring, owner of two Wisconsin grocery stores, says grocery bars are a great move for fostering an atmosphere of social closeness. "In the early 1900s, the store is where people met," Nehring tells Wisconsin news outlet OnMilwaukee. "This whole neighborhood is so much about community, and putting this bar in here really brings it together." This sentiment might extend to in-store gambling, as well; the kiosks could take grocery stores from a get-in and get-out shopping trip to an opportunity to slow down and chat with a stranger.