Buffalo Wild Wings could add sports betting to menu

Buffalo Wild Wings is mulling an entry into the legal sports betting marketplace as it looks to attract new customers and reverse a years-long sales slump, the restaurant chain confirmed Thursday.

“As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests,” the chain said in a statement. “We are actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand.”

Buffalo Wild Wings operates more than 1,000 store locations across all 50 states. The Minnesota-based chain sold to private equity firm Roark Capital, which also owns Arby’s, for $2.9 billion in a transaction that was finalized last February.

The chain contended with declining customer traffic, weaker sales and the rising cost of chicken wings for several quarters before its sale. Former CEO Sally Smith told investors in June 2017 that declining store traffic had also impacted sales of alcohol, the chain’s most profitable segment.

ESPN and Gaming Today were first to report Buffalo Wild Wings’ interest in sports betting.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted last May to repeal a 1992 law that banned sports betting in all but four states. The repeal allows states to determine whether or not to legalize betting on a case-by-case basis. New Jersey and two other states have voted to legalize sports gambling since the repeal, and legalization efforts are underway in several others.

Buffalo Wild Wings is one of several brands exploring a way into the lucrative industry. Earlier this week, daily fantasy sports company DraftKings launched a mobile sportsbook app in New Jersey.

The NBA became the first professional sports league to establish a formal sports betting partnership, inking a multi-year deal with MGM Resorts in late July.