For the first time ever, basketball fans in Pennsylvania can (legally) bet on the NCAA Basketball Tournament in their own back yard. SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia is one of the many venues across the state taking March Madness bets this month and has some exciting offers to fans who want to catch the action and take some action as well.
The Delaware Avenue entertainment destination has interesting plans for the Big Dance. And fans don’t even have to bet in the sportsbook or write up paper slips.
For “March Mania”, players can dine and drink at Fishtown Hops, with some excellent specials starting with the First Four games Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The big sportsbook also has seating available but that’s going to be at a premium, which can also mean some unique experiences.
Business has been good since the first book in Philadelphia opened in December. “It’s a consistent stream of people,” said Evan Davis, Vice President and General Counsel at SugarHouse. “You really see people coming in, planning ahead, making wagers for even later that day or later in the week. It’s really amazing how consistent interest has been in the three months since we opened.”
Pints and Picks at Fishtown Hops
The consistent business has seen SugarHouse invest more in their digital kiosks. Davis noted the casino is now up to 18 self-serve digital screens to make bets.
“Now from what I’m seeing, I think people like the convenience of it,” Davis said of the kiosks. SugarHouse assisted players with explanative literature and offered “ambassadors” to help players acclimate to the machines.
Most of those are focused around the book, which helps keep the traffic moving and players satisfied. For the tournament, a couple will be moved to the biergarten Fishtown Hops. This will allow bettors to enjoy the games like they would at a sports bar and make selections without missing much action.
Food specials will be available throughout the day, from breakfast sandwiches in the morning, to chicken cheesesteaks, wings, and nachos to power through the late games. Thursday afternoon will bring extra excitement with giveaways as the tournament starts.
Plenty of cold beer on tap, including $3 Miller Lite pints and a wide selection of local craft brews. Evan’s recommendation for the bar? Salmon BLT sandwich. Yeah, Fishtown is sure changing.
What about mobile betting?
When East Coast states legalized sports betting, part of the idea was to infuse new money and interest into the flailing horse racing industry. NJ has the cash part but the rapid adoption of online betting has seen more people staying on their porches and not heading to the paddock.
Pennsylvania has tried to avoid that option. Operators want to draw patrons to live action and keep them there. While SugarHouse doesn’t have a race track like rivals Parx and Hollywood Gaming, they still have slots and table gaming.
If you want to watch tournament games at the book, it won’t be free. In lieu of charging admission (like a club or track), fans can get a club chair for a minimum bet or secure a table if they spend $50 in food and beverage per person over a four-hour span.
SugarHouse makes it easy for fans to get food and drinks delivered to tables via mobile ordering. Between beer towers and burgers, your normal tourney crew can easily meet the spending threshold. Prices are similar to downtown venues and certainly less at the arenas.
Mobile betting is now available on premises through the Bet Builder options. Players can use their SugarHouse app or go to the site, make selections, and that will create a QR code a teller can scan to print out a bet slip.
“It takes a matter of seconds rather than a matter of minutes at the window,” Davis said of the Bet Builder. He also noted it’s a great option for those who want to make in-game bets, where prices can change in seconds.
Wagers made through the Bet Builder through Sunday, March 24th are eligible for SugarHouse’s March Mania Contest. Winners get to attend the Final Four in Minneapolis, including round-trip airfare, hotel accomodations, souvenirs, and VIP Lounge access during the events.
Lead image courtesy of Jess Welman/PlayPennsylvania