Dave & Buster’s Launches Arcade Betting as Wagers Gain Popularity


With the proliferation of betting apps bringing gambling into more parts of consumers’ lives, now even Skee-Ball is getting the Las Vegas treatment.

Restaurant and entertainment center chain Dave & Buster’s has partnered with gaming technology firm Lucra to add “gamification software” to its app for loyalty program members.

“This new partnership gives our loyalty members real-time, unrivaled gaming experiences, and reinforces our commitment to continuing to elevate our customer experience through innovative, cutting-edge technology,” Dave and Buster’s SVP of Entertainment and Attractions Simon Murray said in a news release.

A CNBC report notes that the news release from Lucra avoids the language of betting and wagering, preferring to call it “real-money contests or challenges” (per COO Michael Madding), operating under different regulations than a gambling operator.

By offering betting opportunities such as these, and especially by making them exclusive to rewards program members, companies can keep consumers financially engaged, driving spending and loyalty.

“You’re going to see a lot more incentives to move your money around in an ecosystem. I’m at the table, I win money, it goes in my app, I can then bet on the game while I’m at dinner, then I can come back and move it back to the table. I see that as a trend,” Drew Edwards, CEO of Ingo Payments, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster in an interview last year.

While sports betting has always been big business in the U.S. — though confined to off-track establishments, bookies or casinos — it has entered the mainstream market due to in large part several states’ legalization of online sportsbooks and in turn to its extension to more parts of consumers’ lives.

With the rise of online betting platforms and mobile apps, betting has become more accessible to a broader audience. People can now place bets from their smartphones or computers, eliminating the need to visit physical betting locations.

For many consumers, betting is not just about winning money but also about entertainment. Placing bets adds excitement and suspense to watching events unfold, whether it’s a pro sports game or, in this case, a Hot Shots arcade basketball game.

With betting options now reaching beyond traditional sports betting into new categories, more consumers who may not be interested in putting money on the big game are getting into this risky endeavor. Consumers are wagering on outcomes ranging from political events to entertainment awards to even reality television shows or weather patterns.

One study from betting app Sparket found that 60% of Gen Z respondents would wager on reality television, while just 50% would bet on traditional sports. That said, the study’s sample size only included 81 respondents.

“People will place a bet on ‘Will we have rainfall?’, or ‘How much snow will a certain place get?’, or ‘What will be the first day of snowfall?’” sports policy expert John Holden, JD/PhD, associate professor at Oklahoma State University, told Fox 5 NY last year.

As more states legalize online sportsbooks, the scale of sports betting is likely to continue increasing, according to last year’s report, the “Disbursements Satisfaction Report 2023: Instant Payouts Reach an Inflection Point,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Ingo Payments collaboration.