St. Croix Casinos opened two new sportsbooks at its Turtle Lake and Danbury properties in Wisconsin. The openings took place Friday and Saturday, with traditional ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and bettors waiting in line to wager for the first time at the properties.
The first official bet at Turtle Lake was placed by Georgia Cobenais, a member of the Turtle Lake Tribal Council, who commented on the road that led to the opening of the sportsbook and described it as “nerve-wrecking, exciting, but we had a great team all the way around and everybody worked together”, Fox9 reported.
Even though Wisconsin legalized sports betting at its tribal casinos in 2021, St. Croix Casino still had to go through the final approvals to set-up with the federal agencies. And despite the fact that the process is known to take a couple of months, Jeff Merrill, the sportsbook’s manager stated they “made it into about a five-month process. So the biggest hurdle was clearing the hurdles at the federal government level”.
At Danbury, four betting kiosks, a bar, a lounge and seven TVs are now open to the public, after a project that cost the casino roughly $80,000 to build.
As reported by CBS 3 Duluth, Loren Benjamin, general manager of the casino, expressed: “It’s another form of entertainment. It’s another reason for people to visit. And I think it’s going to bring a new crowd, a new age group,” said Loren Benjamin, general manager of the casino.
Benjamin added that access to the new betting system should provide an economic boost to their casino, and others across the state.
Legal sports betting has now opened so close to the Twin Cities, the expectations are now on Minnesota to follow suit. Bills to legalize sports betting at the state’s tribal casinos have more momentum at the Capitol this session as tribal leaders have now expressed their support.
Sports betting is now legal in 30 states, including those surrounding Minnesota. According to Merrill, whether the state will legalize it is no longer a matter of “if” but “when”.
“I would think it’s inevitable. And my thought is that, good luck, because it’s competition. It’s just business and competition makes it good for everybody”.
“We’re all in tribal gaming, so we’ve got to support all our people in all our tribes across the nation, so yeah, good luck. I think there’s enough to go around”, Cobenais agreed.
Wisconsin started taking sports bets in November at the Oneida Nation’s main casino in Green Bay, after the signing of a compact that was later followed by the St. Croix Chippewa Indians.
The sports betting market went live in late November through Oneida Nation’s sportsbook inside the tribe’s main casino, near Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport. It became the first location in the state where people could legally wager on professional and college sporting events, except those featuring Wisconsin-based colleges.