Last updated on April 4th, 2023 at 12:56 pm
Potawatomi Casino Hotel in Milwaukee marked the opening of the city’s first sports betting operation Friday morning.
The casino’s sportsbook includes 20 self-service kiosks, currently set up at two locations on the property – one at the former Topgolf swing suite space on the ground floor and the other off the skywalk on the second floor. The kiosks are open 24 hours a day, and both locations provide odds boards.
The temporary ground-floor space also features a full bar, lounge seating and 30 HD screens streaming all the major sporting events. The kiosks in that location will eventually be moved to Potawatomi’s permanent sportsbook venue, planned for northwest corner of the casino’s ground floor, replacing the 500-seat Northern Lights Theater and the Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill. Construction on the space will begin soon.
Once the permanent sportsbook opens later this year, it will include a full bar, eight HD televisions and one large LED screen. A poker room is also planned for that area.
To Dominic Ortiz, chief executive officer of Potawatomi Casino Hotel, the sportsbook allows the casino to sharpen its competitive edge against the fast-growing sports betting market.
“Any which direction you go, you’re going to run into sports betting, and it’s moving across the country, so being able to bring that to Potawatomi, we know it brings a different demographic,” Ortiz told BizTimes Milwakee on Friday.
“Our permanent sportsbook will be the largest in all of the region, and nobody in Illinois or Wisconsin will have an experience like what we’re setting up with the retail sportsbook,” he added. “It’s so close to the championship teams here in the city and all of the wonderful people of Wisconsin that come through Milwaukee, we want to give them a place where if they can’t be at the game or you want to come before the game or after, we’re that place for you.”
Friday’s opening celebration included a ceremonial ribbon cutting before Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson placed the new sportbook’s first bet.
“I’m no expert on sports betting but I do have confidence,” said Johnson. “I’ve got confidence in Milwaukee, I’ve got confidence in our home team, I’ve got confidence in the Milwaukee Bucks, and so I’m going to place my first bet and it’s going to be for our Milwaukee Bucks.”
Johnson praised the casino and the Forest County Potawatomi Community for its efforts in adding sports betting to Milwaukee’s array of entertainment options, giving visitors another reason to explore the city and surrounding region.
Last year, the Forest County Potawatomi Community reached a deal with the state allowing the tribe’s casinos, including its Milwaukee casino, and affiliate locations to offer event wagering on sports and non-sports events.
“This is a big day for us,” said Manny Johnson II, treasurer of Forest County Potawatomi Community.
He highlighted the impact of gaming dollars on the socioeconomic health of the tribe and surrounding community.
“It has afforded us the ability to educate our people and their families, better housing opportunities for them and jobs, of course, for the tribal members,” he said. “It doesn’t stop there for us. … We’ve always tried to be a leader in the community here and in Forest County. We try to help out with food pantries, domestic violence awareness and the list goes on and on.”
Construction of the permanent sportsbook comes in the midst of Potawatomi Casino Hotel’s $100 million renovation to its second level, expected to be completed in phases during the summer and fall of this year.
The 120,000-square-foot project will create new gaming, food and entertainment experiences, including 1,800 slot machine stations, a new bar with 28 bar-top “slot seats” (a first for Potawatomi) and an array of 4K televisions. The project will also include the addition of Rock & Brews, a restaurant co-founded by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the rock band KISS. The restaurant will be located just off the skywalk. It will also include a stage for live music performances.