Dave & Busters Plan Busted in Nevada

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Dave & Buster’s at the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland, on September 7, 2022. Dave & Buster's announces second-quarter earnings Wednesday afternoon. Jim WATSON / AFP

Despite Dave & Buster’s initial intentions, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has made it clear that wagering won’t be part of the arcade experience in the Silver State. The company’s plans to capitalize on the growing gambling market will need to find a different avenue.

A few weeks after Dave & Buster’s announced plans to allow betting on arcade games, the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) stepped in and shut down the idea. 

The Gaming Board took a hardline stance against unlicensed gaming, emphasizing that Dave & Buster’s cannot provide such wagers for adults 18 or older in the state. This decision aligns with the NGCB’s commitment to preventing underage gambling and ensuring responsible gaming practices.

NGCB Chairman Kirk Hendrick, said, “The Nevada Gaming Control Board takes a hardline stance against any company that may be engaged in unlicensed gaming. Furthermore, the NGCB consistently opposes activities that could promote underage gambling.”

What Was Dave & Buster’s Plan?

Dave & Buster’s runs a chain of restaurants, each featuring a bar and arcade games. According to their policy, individuals under the age of 18 or 21 (depending on the location) must have a guardian who is at least 25 years old accompany them to enter the premises.

Dave & Buster’s partnered with Lucra, a software company specializing in real-money ‘gamification’ software, to develop a digital wagering platform accessible through its loyalty club app. The collaboration aimed to capitalize on the growing trend of peer-to-peer betting, but it prompted questions about its legality.

Nevada Not the Only State Pushing Back

Dave & Buster’s faces similar pushback in other states, including Pennsylvania and Ohio, where lawmakers expressed concerns about family-friendly businesses offering gambling activities. The Ohio Gaming Control Board indicated that such an offering may violate existing laws.

A bipartisan bill in Illinois aims to ban such activities in family entertainment venues to protect problem gamblers and prevent young adults from exposure to betting options. While the initial legislation, HB 5382, missed the deadline for introduction, the Illinois House Gaming Committee voted 15-0 to amend HB 394, a bill related to the Horse Racing Act. 

Gaming Committee Chairman Daniel Didech, a key supporter of the amendment, contends that arcade gambling at venues like Dave & Buster’s does not align with responsible gaming practices.

An anti-gambling group also opposes the idea, emphasizing that unlicensed and unregulated gambling is linked to increased gambling problems in both adults and youth. 

The executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, Keith Whyte said that his group will urge state gambling regulators to thoroughly assess the legal justifications and risks of ‘social’ gambling, particularly in settings that cater to young people and families. 

More Opposition is Expected

The decision in Nevada may be a sign of things to come around the country. Dave & Buster’s currently has two locations in Southern Nevada and is preparing to open a third in Reno.

The restaurant chain operates more than 160 locations in the US. California and Texas have the most locations, and neither state allows commercial casinos or legal sports betting. 

So, it appears this plan is going to continue to struggle to get off the ground. We will keep you posted.