Could Buffalo Wild Wings add betting to its menu? According to a statement per CNN Money and ESPN, the 1,200-unit chain is “actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners,” to take advantage of a Supreme Court call that opened the door for states to legalize sports wagering.
"As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests," a company spokesperson said, adding that the company was evaluating “the next steps for our brand.” The news was first reported by Las Vegas publication Gaming Today.
The U.S. Supreme Court removed a federal law in May that restricted legal sports betting to primarily Nevada for the last 26 years. Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi have started offering sports betting since the end of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. West Virginia said it plans to offer betting by the start of the NFL season, with many more states expected to follow.
How would this look for Buffalo Wild Wings? Licensing requirements to offer sports betting vary by state, meaning the brand might, as it mentioned, best be suited to link up with a gaming operator.
Per CNN Money, John Decree, head of North America equity for Union Gaming, said: "We're still waiting for state legislatures and regulators to hash out licensing rules, so it's unclear how they'll [Buffalo Wild Wings] have opportunity to participate.”
He added that Buffalo Wild Wings would likely partner with an established casino or other sports betting entity, rather than try to license on its own. "It'll be hard for them to try to get licensed in every state that allows it. There's a lot of legal costs and time involved," he added in the article.
The notion Buffalo Wild Wings could allow betting guests to put money on their account in the restaurant would “generate a ton of foot traffic.” The brand announced in November it was entering a definitive merger agreement with Arby’s Restaurant Group in a deal valued at about $2.9 billion. The deal closed in February and signaled the start of Inspire Brands Inc., which would be led by chief executive Paul Brown.
Buffalo Wild Wings was founded in 1982 and went public in 2003. The company had 220 units at the time and has since grown to more than 1,200 locations worldwide.
The chain has faced its share of challenges in recent quarters. In the third last year, the company reported a net earnings decrease of nearly 20 percent as its cost of sales rose to 30.8 percent of restaurant sales from 28.9 percent during the same quarter last year. Buffalo Wild Wings posted adjusted earnings per share of $1.36. Same-store sales decreased 2.3 percent at company-owned restaurants and fell by 3.2 percent at franchise locations. Overall sales rose by 0.5 percent to $473 million while revenue also increased 0.5 percent to $496.7 million.