Dave & Buster’s To Offer Betting Option At Texas Arcades

Written By Adam Hensley on May 3, 2024
Three skee ball lanes. Dave and Buster's will allow players to bet each other over arcade-style games

If you’re facing off against one of your friends in skeeball at a Dave & Buster’s in Texas, you can soon turn that friendly competition into an actual wager. And no, this isn’t with a handshake agreement.

Dave & Buster’s plans to create a social platform in which customers can bet against each other on a number of arcade games.

Here’s a closer look at the company’s plans to give Texans a new gambling option.

How Will the Dave and Buster’s Betting System Work?

Besides playing the Texas Lottery or visiting a cardroom, Texans have very few legal options to gamble. Texas online casinos are illegal, and there are no state-regulated casinos in the Lone Star State. Likewise, Texas sports betting remains off-limits.

So, how can Dave & Buster’s offer a betting option at its arcades? Well, supposedly, it’s perfectly legal, according to the company. The argument being that this falls under the umbrella of skill-based gaming and not sports betting.

It’s not clear how that will satisfy Texas law enforcement, which has cracked down on game rooms in the state. The so-called fuzzy animal exception allows game rooms to offer non-cash prizes to players as long as their value is less than $5, or the price of a fuzzy animal. What Dave & Buster’s is planning doesn’t seem to fall in line with even this gray area.

Lucra Technology will create the platform for Dave & Buster’s

Dave & Buster’s is using technology from Lucra, a gaming software organization, on its platform for customers to bet against each other.

Using the Dave & Buster’s app, loyalty rewards members can compete with each other while also earning rewards and unlocking exclusive perks, explained Dave & Buster’s SVP of Entertainment and Attractions Simon Murray.

“We’re thrilled to work with Lucra to bring this exciting new gaming platform to our customers. This new partnership gives our loyalty member real-time, unrivaled gaming experiences, and reinforce our commitment to continuing to elevate our customer experience through innovative, cutting-edge technology.”

To engage in betting, users must be at least 18 years old.

In an interview with Fortune, Lucra Chief Operating Officer Michael Madding said wagers will be bets of $5 or $10 – nothing astronomical. He also shared that customers can have the option to stake double-or-nothing bets and rematch each other.

“This is about small dollars and playing with your friends and, hopefully, having a little skin in the game and making that game of basketball or darts a little bit more interesting.”

Texas residents will be able to compete at a number of locations. There are 15 Dave & Buster’s in Texas, the second most in a US state, according to Statista.

Madding did not give a date when the company plans to launch the betting option. He did say it would be soon.

Questions Around Younger Population Being Introduced to Gambling

The betting option at Dave & Buster’s does raise questions about children and teenagers being introduced to gambling at a young age. While you must be at least 18 to bet on games, you don’t need to be 18 to enter and play arcade games at a Dave & Buster’s.

The entertainment center is advertised as a place for adults to eat, drink and play games against each other. But parents frequently bring their children. It’s not uncommon to watch seas of kids running about, going from game to game.

With the introduction of a betting element, not only does Dave & Buster’s put gambling content up close and personal to kids. It also exposes anyone old enough to have a Venmo or CashApp account to the fact that they can participate in this kind of arcade betting whenever they want.

The company has not said whether there will be guardrails in place to discourage gambling by teenagers and children, or how it will address problem gambling.

Will Other Companies Follow Suit?

It’s not off base to interpret this move by Dave & Buster’s as just a first step into the gambling sector. Lucra, the company behind the technology, doesn’t consider itself a gambling entity, rather a skills-based game platform.

In fact, Madding told Fortune the company would rather call these bets “challenges” or “contests” instead of “wagers.”

Should the betting option prove popular, one could expect other businesses to follow suit. Especially with sports betting and other forms of gambling expanding and becoming less taboo.

It will also be interesting to see how Texas lawmakers respond to Dave & Buster’s foray into the gambling world.

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, who covers the legal sports betting and iGaming industry. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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