Use Sports Betting to Drive Higher Traffic and Spend

Showing the biggest games and promoting food and drink specials is all par for the course for sports bars—especially during the NFL season—but have you considered how sports betting can help your bottom line?

As of October 2022, more than half of U.S. states have legalized some form of sports betting, whether online or in-person. And big states like California and Texas are currently considering legalizing sports betting.

According to Forbes, in 2021, Americans wagered a record $57.22 billion on sports, up 165% from 2020. This brought sports betting to an all-time high of $4.29 billion in revenue.

A Sure Bet

While bars/restaurants can’t cash in on the commission from these bets, there’s no reason they can’t take advantage of the popularity of the trend—and its wider attraction.

In fact, a report from CGA by NielsenIQ titled “Sports Betting: exploring the US On Premise opportunity,” has found that all demographics are interested in sports. 91% of the 21-34 age group and 89% of the 35-54 age group report they watch sports at bars and restaurants. In comparison, those aged 55+ have slightly less consumers in this segment, but 63% are still visiting the on-premise to drink and watch sports.

Customers who frequent sports bars have a higher likelihood of visiting the on-premise each week compared to the average U.S. consumer, according to that same CGA report. What’s more, these same consumers are also spending more during their visits, which can lead to bigger checks and bigger profits for venues.

sports betting sports bar
(Photo by ELEVATE, Pexels)

Dwell time is also increased as guests stay longer and order more. “There’s a huge value gain opportunity for venues who offer sports betting versus a sports bar/other bar that doesn’t, showing just how valuable sports betting can be for suppliers,” said Ben Tilton, associate client solutions manager for CGA. “Patrons that watch the games they bet on are more likely to spend more in the on-premise, bringing check value averages up and increasing revenue and tips for staff.”

Big Chains, Big Betting Partnerships

Some sports bar chains are directly partnering up with top online sports betting companies like FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, and DraftKings Sportsbook.

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW) teamed up with BetMGM back in 2019 to provide sports bettors with an in-restaurant experience where they could consume every game across a multi-screen experience, view live BetMGM odds feeds, enjoy free games on the BWW app, and take advantage of an exclusive BetMGM weekly offer of a $25 risk-free bet.

At Hooters, sports betting programming includes a partnership with BettorView, a service that allows restaurants to display betting odds and promotions on their TVs. The chain is also working with DraftKings to promote the online sports betting platform in its restaurants. Currently, Hooters guests receive special offers via a QR code or can visit the DraftKings site and use a promo code. The chain has also added gaming machines in some Georgia locations.

Room for Independents as Well

Independent bars and restaurants may not have the power to partner with online betting companies to offer exclusive deals. However, with consumers expecting more of an experience when they go out, they are well positioned to entice guests to come in by providing things they can’t get at home—large screens, the ability to view all the games, food and drink specials, and the camaraderie of viewing a game with other fans.

CGA’s Sports Betting report found that across all age groups, nearly half of consumers say they would participate or have participated in sports betting in a neighborhood/local bar.

Plan Your Sports Experience

The CGA Sports Betting report also had plenty to say about consumer behaviors once they’re in the bar/restaurant, which can prove useful to owners planning their sports-oriented experience.

1. Beer is King

beer with foam on a bar counter

At 41%, beer is the most popular drinks category when watching sports across all demographics.

But it’s important to know your customer. Solo customers prefer single drafts or bottles/cans. For groups out to watch a game, “group friendly” serves like draft pitchers or bucket deals for bottles are popular—especially among the 55+ category age group, where draft pours are preferred over bottles/cans.

2. Cocktails Still Matter

Beer may crown the list of drinks for watching sports, but cocktails are also popular. According to the CGA report, nearly one third of sports bar visitors drink cocktails.

If you’re wondering what spirits to serve, tequila is always a sure bet as it remains one of the most popular spirits globally and a top three performer in the U.S. on-premise spirits sector, according to CGA’s report titled “Tequila: Dominating growth in the Spirits sector in 2022.” The margarita is also the number-one cocktail across categories as reported by CGA’s OPUS survey.

3. Diversify Your Sports

Unsurprisingly, CGA’s Sports Betting report finds that NFL football is the most popular sport amongst consumers for betting, across all ages and genders.

But that doesn’t mean your bar shouldn’t consider showing other sports—especially since the regular NFL season is only about 18 weeks a year.

NBA games come in a close second or rival the popularity of NFL games—especially amongst the younger demographic of 21-34-year-olds. Soccer is also big with this group, with about a third saying they would or had bet on games.

Things diversify even more with the older demographics. For the 35-54-year-olds, boxing is a major interest with about a third saying they would bet on matches.

The 55-plus age group prefer other sports such as baseball and horse racing.

“CGA’s research highlights the importance of understanding variances amongst key demographics—essential for venues looking to boost check value and visitation levels across different sporting occasions,” said Andrew Hummel, client solutions director, Americas, CGA.

Overall, the Nielsen report concludes that screening a variety of sports for betting purposes can help bars/restaurants drive higher levels of traffic and spend.


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