U.S. popular sports bar chain Hooters is seeking to become a destination for sports betting as a new guest draw. The franchise is looking to leverage its status as a popular choice for watching sporting events to expand its presence within the burgeoning gambling space.
The company expects that, by aligning itself with sports betting, the move will bring more people into its restaurants while also making them stay longer and order more products. “Our benefit is, again, already being a leader in the sports bar world being able to add to the experience for the consumer,” said Sal Melilli, CEO of Hooters of America, according to Restaurant Business.
In order to expand its presence within the betting space, the chain has forged partnerships with some industry heavyweights, including sportsbooks PointsBet and DraftKings, reaching deals to promote the platforms in its venues. Additionally, the company’s restaurants, typically known for featuring many TVs, now dedicate more space to gambling content.
“They'll do two things—one is the offer or the incentive in terms of placing the bet through our particular place," Melilli told FSR Magazine in a recent interview, in regards to the sportsbooks. "And then the second piece is the creative and the point of sale that then we can use from an exterior standpoint to market to our consumer, social media, and the likes, and then internally when they come in.”
Hooters is currently promoting gambling in 27 of its restaurants across five states: the chain has a total of 80 venues in markets where gambling is now legal. It has also reached a partnership with BettorView, a service that allows restaurants to display betting odds and promotions on their TVs, and now features gaming machines in some Georgia locations.
“I would say we're definitely in the early innings of sports betting, right? And for our particular case, on the Hooters’ side, we're such a destination place, and we're such an experience that really it lent itself to be a natural fit for us and for sports betting partners,” Melilli further told FSR Magazine.
While Hooters won’t derive revenue directly from sports betting, the franchise is set to still make a profit from related consumption. The company’s CEO expects guests to sit in the restaurant longer and order more food as they wait to see if their bets pay off. “It's really just a natural add-on for our customer experience,” he explained.
The executive sees it a little too early to tell whether the bet on sports gaming will pay out, but Melilli says that Super Bowl and March Madness already showed promising results in terms of more customers coming into the venues. However, the upcoming NFL season will be the true test of whether these efforts are worth the company’s attention.
“The biggest opportunity is definitely more states coming online. That's really where it's at. We've already got the model built, our franchisees are already on board. So we have a mix today of corporate and franchisees,” the executive noted in the interview. “So as more states come on, that's just nothing but opportunity.”