Dangerous Gaming: Dave & Buster's introduces betting on arcade games 

May 2, 2024

A new company has entered the sports betting space. Dave and Buster’s offers an arcade, laser tag, and bowling in more than 200 locations across North America, but shortly, you will also be able to bet at their locations. Not on sporting events though, just the arcade games that you are playing at Dave and Buster’s. Soon, you will be able to wager a friendly $5 bet with friends while playing a Hot Shots basketball game, a skeeball game, or a different arcade game. There’s a lot to understand about this unprecedented announcement, so let’s break it down. 

How is Dave & Buster’s allowed to facilitate betting on arcade games?

First and foremost, Dave and Buster’s will tell you this new gameplay is not betting. That’s because there are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to gambling on games of chance. However, there are far fewer rules when you’re putting money on the line in skill-based games. For example, having a bet with a friend over a skeeball game is different from sports betting on a Major League Baseball game from a legal standpoint. At Dave and Buster’s, it won’t be betting, wagering, or gambling on games of chance, it will be “real-money contests or challenges”, says Lucra (CNBC). 

In just a few months, Dave and Buster’s users will be able to bet against friends or family on several different arcade games through the Dave and Buster’s app. This new development of the company comes from a partnership with Lucra, a gamification software company. Michael Madding, the CEO of Lucra, said this about his vision within Dave and Buster’s customers, “We’re getting them to engage in a new way and spend more time and money” (NBC Philadelphia).

What are the age restrictions for betting at Dave & Buster’s?

Only Dave and Buster’s customers who are 18 and older will be able to participate in the real-money contests (CNBC). This is slightly younger than what most states require a person to be to gamble on sports, which is 21. Betting at Dave and Buster’s will also only be available in 44 states.

As of right now, there has not been a limit set for how much you can bet at Dave and Buster's. However, Dave and Buster’s has announced that there will be one in the coming months. For context, Lucra stated that across the history of the company, the average size of a bet has been $10 (NBC Philadelphia).

Potential dangers of betting at Dave & Buster’s

Contributing to increases in Gambling Addiction 

While Dave and Buster’s see this as a business opportunity, a lot of Americans are seeing this as a step in a very dangerous direction. One person on X even said, “I'm not sure there is a better sign that America is headed toward a gambling problem than Dave & Buster's offering its customers the ability to bet real money on pop-a-shot and skeeball games” (X). In the span of about seven years, sports gambling has launched in more than three-quarters of the country, TV commercials are filled with sportsbook advertisements, and now people will be able to wager money at Dave and Buster’s. Sports gambling is being pushed on Americans, whether they like it or not.

The growing opportunities to gamble have led to a big problem. Sports gambling addiction rates are soaring across the country, and states are not prepared to handle it. Although states offer gambling addiction hotlines and help services, they are already overrun with calls and are in desperate need of help. This announcement of betting at Dave and Buster’s may introduce some people to gambling that had never before. That translates to more people who could develop a gambling addiction. 

Violence and other issues resulting from betting availability

One danger that arises from in-person betting is the possibility of violence. At casinos, there is plenty of security to prevent people from acting out and starting violence. This will be something that Dave and Buster’s will need to consider since they will now offer betting in the arcade. Plus, plenty of Dave and Buster’s around the country have a restaurant and bar in the location. Alcohol and gambling are usually a poor mix and have led to violence in the past. Dave and Buster’s will need to assess these variables as they introduce friendly wagering in their arcade.

Sources:

Dave & Buster's to allow customers to bet on arcade games

Dave & Buster's to allow customers to bet on arcade games

https://x.com/JoePompliano/status/1785294429924073849 

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