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How the North Country hopes to cash in on new sports betting laws

(WCAX)
Published: Dec. 26, 2019 at 5:34 PM EST
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New York passed a law this year allowing people to bet on sports at casinos. New York is the ninth state to allow bets like this. Our Kelly O'Brien headed to the only casino in the North Country to see what this could mean for you and your neighbors.

Inside the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino in Hogansburg, you'll find people testing their luck 365 days a year. There is one thing you wouldn't have seen in the casino before this summer-- sports betting kiosks.

"Much more exciting when you have a couple dollars wagered on the game to follow and root for your favorite team," said Todd Papineau, the general manager of the casino.

Papineau says with sports betting, they're aiming to tap into a new crowd that the casino wasn't seeing before.

"It's the younger crowd that we've been missing here in the casino," he said.

Papineau says other casinos in the state that have opened sports betting lounges are seeing a rise in 18- to 30-year-old men coming in to cheer on their teams.

"They're here to bet on their favorite teams and that's what they enjoy more than playing slot machines or table games," Papineau said.

The casino is opening up a new wagering lounge-- the Sticks Sportsbook and Grill-- offering food, beer and dozens of games on the big screen. The bets can be for any team playing any sport during any season.

"It's not just bet on the outcome of the game, it will be scores by quarter, there will be much more definitive betting," Papineau explained.

It is still under construction but that doesn't mean the betting comes to a halt; kiosks are spread out on the casino floor.

The casino currently employs more than 800 people, but those numbers will rise in the next month as they look for bartenders, servers and people to help place the sports bets.

As for the dollar amount this will bring in, it's still too early to tell but the casino says the experience will be worth it.

"With what we have to offer here it should be much more exciting than watching it at your local sports bar or sitting in your living room to watch," Papineau said.

Sticks Sportsbook and Grill will open Jan. 17. The casino hopes the next thing the state looks at is the internet and mobile betting.

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