Ask the Experts: Sports Betting in Indian Country


This month, Indian Gaming magazine spoke with a number of leading sports betting operators about their current operations, the demographics attracted to their properties, challenges and opportunities, and how they predict sports betting will evolve in the coming years. Here is what they had to say…

Brad Bryant

Brad Bryant, General Manager of Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook
Mohegan Sun – Uncasville, CT

OPERATIONS: Mohegan Sun is partnered with FanDuel and this collaboration produced the beautiful 11,000 sq. ft. Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook, located in Casino of the Earth. The sportsbook is home to a 140-ft. video wall, the largest in the Northeast, and 30+ betting kiosks that are available 24/7. A knowledgeable and hard-working staff are also available behind six cashier windows and throughout the sportsbook. Guests can also place sports bets anywhere in Connecticut using the FanDuel mobile app, which is America’s #1 sportsbook app. Our sports betting products allow for guests 21+ to bet on all major U.S. sports. The Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook also has a unique mezzanine level, with its own bar and available for private party buy-outs. The main floor of the sportsbook consists of more than 220 luxury seating options, as well as a full bar and dining menu.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: Since our launch of the Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook in 2022, it has helped attract a younger demographic to Mohegan Sun. We really enjoy hosting watch parties and big promotions for major UFC fights, as well as for sporting events like the Super Bowl, March Madness and the Kentucky Derby. We are able to get the word out about these special events through our own marketing inside Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook, as well as through Mohegan Sun’s robust marketing communications team, which is a huge benefit. Through social media alone, we are able to spotlight our latest and greatest event, or the big parlay win that a guest had on social media, which certainly helps gain the interest of younger audiences.   

Mohegan Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: The biggest challenge is the balancing of the wants and needs of each guest. Many sportsbook players are visiting the property for an experience with another group of friends/players. These guests want the complete experience, which is to wager, watch all the games on a 140-ft. video wall, enjoy great food and drinks, and take in special meet and greets with UFC stars. Additionally, we want to make sure to roll out programming that involves regular watch parties for our loyal guests and those are built around exciting events across boxing, major horse racing like the Kentucky Derby, NFL draft parties, March Madness and much more. As a huge entertainment destination, the Mohegan Sun FanDuel Sportsbook must always be on top of what events are coming up so that we can provide a complete and memorable experience every time. On the opposite side, we must have available a full menu of betting options for the players who prefer wagering versus having an experience.

EVOLUTION: This is a hard question to answer as I believe legal sports wagering is still in its infancy stages. There are still many states that have not yet approved sports wagering and when/if they do, will it be retail, online, casino or a combination of the three? Due to this, I believe sports wagering will continue to evolve over the long-term, especially regarding the number of third-party wagering providers. 

Frizzell Frizzell

Frizzell J. Frizzell Jr., COO
Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino; Casino Apache Travel Center – Mescalero, NM

Sportsbook at the Inn / Casino Apache Sportsbook

OPERATIONS: The Mescalero Apache Tribe opened Sportsbook at the Inn in the summer of 2019 and the Sportsbook at Casino Apache Travel Center in 2021. We have since endeavored every day to make it a premier destination for both regional and local bettors. Powered by Caesars Sportsbook technology, the Sportsbook at both of our casinos boasts all of the amenities fans would expect from a world-class casino resort with NFL Sunday Ticket and UFC Fight Pass, an expansive LED viewing wall at both properties and convenient access to the casino’s best-in-class restaurants and entertainment options. At the Inn of the Mountain Gods, the Sportsbook is located adjacent to the Big Game Sports Bar with three betting kiosks located directly on the gaming floor allowing our customers to have a seamless experience in both areas.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: We have definitely seen a significant increase in younger bettors making the trip to the property, especially during the football season. To continue to attract the new generation of players, we’ve made our Sportsbook approachable and streamlined for all skill levels. Bettors can access kiosks and InPlay wagering menus, and we’ve also implemented on-property promotions like March Madness Final Four ticket giveaways to encourage making the trip to our beautiful resort. We have also seen this younger demographic’s sports betting play transfer to other areas in the casino simply because we offer sports betting.

Inn of the Mountain Gods Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: While operating a sportsbook certainly has its challenges, being one of the first Native-owned and operated casinos to open a sportsbook in the State of New Mexico was an enormous honor. The opportunity to engage a new group of players who had never been to Inn of the Mountain Gods before we opened the sportsbook and watch them return and create new memories with friends and family is well worth the challenges. Some of the biggest challenges of running a sports betting operation include managing risks associated with odds-making and unexpected outcomes. On the other hand, opportunities include capitalizing on the growing popularity of sports betting, leveraging data analytics for better odds-making, and customer targeting and innovating with technology to enhance the overall betting experience.

EVOLUTION: In the coming years, sports betting is likely to become more mainstream, with more states and countries legalizing it. Technology advancements may lead to increased online betting options, personalized betting experiences, and potentially more integration with live sports broadcasts for interactive betting opportunities. Additionally, there may be a focus on responsible gambling measures and regulations to ensure consumer protection. We at Inn of the Mountain Gods and Casino Apache look forward in the future to being able to offer products such as off-track horse betting, in addition to making sure all of our offerings are being used with the latest technology.

Bryan Hayes

Bryan Hayes, Senior Vice President of Gaming Operations
Foxwoods Resort Casino – Mashantucket, CT
DraftKings Sportsbook

OPERATIONS: Foxwoods’ DraftKings Sportsbook is approximately 12,000 sq. ft. across two levels and hosts two full-service bars and two VIP areas – one that hosts 12 people, and another larger VIP area that is sectioned into three areas that serves delicious sports bar fare. On the gaming side, the sportsbook has six betting windows, 24 self-service betting kiosks and 11 bar top slots, making it a very large sports betting facility. What makes the space even more exciting is the technology within – the Sportsbook has wall-to-wall televisions anchored by one of the largest LED screens in the industry at 50 ft. by 30 ft., and is located right in the middle of the property, making it an ideal location for visitors and guests to enjoy any sport.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: When we opened the Sportsbook, we saw a strong correlation with our 21 to 34-year-old demographic and have seen the most crossover with sports betting with both traditional table and electronic table games, as well as poker. In combination with our partners at DraftKings, we have hosted several events within the Sportsbook itself with athletes, coaches and other notable celebrities in sports, which is usually centered around the bigger sporting events – March Madness, MMA, the Super Bowl and the like.

Foxwoods Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: Being able to work with a great partner like DraftKings certainly made things easier for us when we introduced our Sportsbook originally. From an operational perspective, there was a learning curve for us – while everyone knows what sports betting is, our challenges initially lied in understanding the world of sports betting from a more in-depth, granular perspective, and really understanding all of the different components of managing the leagues, odds, limits and overall risk profile. We also experienced the normal challenges of managing the day-to-day aspects of a sportsbook from both a guest and team member perspective, but after the first few months, our great team here at Foxwoods was in a place where the operation was seamless.

EVOLUTION: The sports betting industry is still evolving, with the continued legalization of sports betting in some of the other jurisdictions. As it continues to be legalized in other states, we’ll see more evolution when it comes to the convergence of wagering and technology with companies looking to leverage social tools as well as AI, AR and VR. While it will be easier from a mobile perspective, I think it will also translate into brick-and-mortar as well. Whether it be prop bets or parlay bets, or even in-game wagering, we will continue to see an evolution and growth in the market – and as that market continues to grow, the overarching sports betting industry will also shift. The continued growth of eSports has seen a lot of conversation over the years, marking an even bigger area of interest. I also think we will continue to see more regulatory, responsible gaming and guest focused initiatives come from the property level as the industry continues to grow and mature. In terms of Foxwoods, I believe we have one of the best sports betting spaces in the industry. Whether you want to come with a group, or just want to come by yourself, we have something available for everyone. I remain excited to see what is in store for sports betting in the future and am proud for all that our team has done to be a pioneer in the space.

Jason Kriegel

Jason Kriegel, Slots / Sportsbook Director
Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel – Tama, IA
Meskwaki Sportsbook

OPERATIONS: Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel has a retail sports betting lounge that is approximately 2,000 sq. ft. and is staffed with two writers for full service and four self-serve kiosks where guests can enjoy the option of laying down a wager any time of the day/night. The Sportsbook lounge has four video walls, 20 TVs and 30 seats for bettors to enjoy their favorite game.

DEMOGRAPHIC: We have had a mixed group of guests place bets at Meskwaki Sportsbook. I would say we lean a little to the older demographic, which is what our casino demographic is as a whole. I feel like the younger generation prefers the mobile aspect of sports betting and the older generation tends to lean towards the retail aspect of the book.

Meskwaki Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: One of our biggest challenges at Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel is the fact that we are unable to offer the mobile capabilities yet for our players to place bets. I feel that when/if that was to take place, we would really branch out and attract much more business in the future. Some opportunities that we will be taking advantage of are having meet and greets with former players of the games that we offer betting on. Our marketing team has been very active in trying to get the right people in the door to do these meet and greet events and we hope to keep that going in the future.

EVOLUTION: I do not see the sports betting train stopping anytime soon. It is very fun to place bets on your favorite teams, and we can only hope to improve on our second year of having sports betting opportunities for our players.

Lauren Pittman

Laurel Pittman, Director of Sports Betting, Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise
Desert Diamond Casinos – Tucson, Sahuarita, West Valley and Why, AZ
Desert Diamond Sportsbook

OPERATIONS: At Desert Diamond Casino, we have something for everyone in the Phoenix and Tucson markets. You can come to an inviting sportsbook and bar at our Tucson, Sahuarita, and West Valley locations. We also offer sports betting kiosks throughout our casino floors to place bets anytime, 24/7. You can also bet on the go with our Desert Diamond Sports mobile app, available throughout Arizona. Our world-class mobile operation was honored at the 2023 SBC Awards North America as the Industry Rising Star of the Year and the Tribal Gaming Operator of the Year.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: Sports betting has brought in a younger and tech-savvy demographic, which is adding to Desert Diamond Casino’s already strong following. We have a diverse range of gaming options for our guests, and the sportsbook operations have expanded those options even further. This area also follows our overall strategy for guest experience for all our properties.

Desert Diamond Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: As Arizona’s leader in gaming, we see sports betting as an opportunity to expand our gaming experience. Our commitment to staying ahead of the curve has won us awards, but more importantly, it has earned us a strong and loyal following from our guests. There is added competition from large commercial operators in this space. That is why Desert Diamond Casino is focused on offering a better product, so that we can continue to stand out and generate additional revenues for the Tohono O’odham Nation, but also provide opportunities in Indian Country while being true to who we are as a tribal casino operator.

EVOLUTION: It is an exciting time in this industry. Legal sports wagering is in its infancy in Arizona, and we are well-positioned to keep growing. As Arizona’s premier gaming operation, Desert Diamond Casino has been at the forefront of implementing new technologies and expanded gaming offerings for our guests. With sports betting, it is no different. We succeed by having the best team, providing the best guest service, and offering the best products in the marketplace.

Daniel Rivas

Daniel Rivas, Manager of Gaming Operations
Paragon Casino Resort – Marksville, LA
Betfred Sportsbook at Paragon Casino Resort

OPERATIONS: In partnership with Betfred Sports, Paragon Casino Resort boasts an 8,000 sq. ft. sports betting venue inside our sports bar and restaurant, The Draft Room. In addition to personal service at the betting counter, betting kiosks are available within the venue and on the gaming floor, so guests can conveniently place their bets, 24/7. Guests can further indulge their love of sports at two Topgolf Swing Suites.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: Sports betting attracts a broad range of age demographics depending on the sport and season. Having “skin in the game” makes watching sports more engaging, amping up the entertainment factor for guests’ viewing experience. A mix of traditional advertising mediums, direct marketing and digital are utilized to reach various demographics, informing current and potential guests that sports betting is available at Paragon Casino Resort.  

Paragon Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: The initial challenge is educating guests who have not had access to sports betting previously. Our sports betting staff is ready to assist any guest who would like to try it for the first time. The greatest opportunity of running a sports betting operation is the introduction of an exciting new gaming option to our current guests, as well as to accommodate guests who are familiar with sports betting and wish to enjoy it at our resort.

EVOLUTION: Sports betting is positioned for future growth with its expansion into more states in the U.S. as well as global markets and mobile betting options. Sports betting will continue to evolve as technology advances. Paragon Casino Resort will continue to monitor trends to continue offering our guests the latest and most desired gaming options.

Joseph Young

Joseph Young, Corporate VP of Gaming Operations
Gila River Resorts & Casinos – Vee Quiva, Lone Butte, Wild Horse Pass, Santan Mountain, AZ
BetMGM Sportsbook

OPERATIONS: Given that Gila River is the largest casino operator in the State of Arizona, we were ecstatic to partner with BetMGM and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. This partnership enabled us to bring a world-class sportsbook experience to our guests across all four of our properties, all located in the Phoenix Metro-Valley area. Each of our locations represents a modern take on the retail sportsbook – offering dynamic integration into our gaming floor, state-of-the-art LED media walls and sound systems, and the only on-reservation mobile wagering app, BetGila. Our Santan Mountain property boasts the largest and most stunning casino sportsbook in the State of Arizona, encompassing over 7,000 sq. ft.

YOUNGER DEMOGRAPHIC: For our younger demographic, we continue to focus on providing experiential events that are synergistic with property-specific activations. Think: being able to attend a craps tournament in the day, watch a UFC event live in our retail sportsbook with VIP seating, and finish your night in our premium rooftop steakhouse, Prime at Wild Horse Pass. Creating these memorable moments and visceral experiences really resonates with this demographic and builds long-term brand affinity.

Gila River Sportsbook

CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES: The biggest opportunities/ challenges in the retail sportsbook operation (after you’ve streamlined your labor model with respect to seasonality, deployed risk-mitigation, and pricing strategies) is to foster a culture of inclusion and rapport with your core demographics. With all of the impersonal mobile applications available, there is still the natural human desire to engage with a group of friendly and welcoming sports enthusiasts.  Making the sportsbook and wagering unintimidating to neophytes and experts alike, is a long-term strategy that will pay dividends across your business verticals. Gila River has a true competitive advantage due to our amazing sportsbook leaders and team.

EVOLUTION: Sports betting will continue to evolve at a rapid pace and become even more ubiquitous. In-game wagering and same game parlays will continue to grow in popularity, as it seems the public appears to have an unwavering appetite for high-volatility wagers. The current European regulatory environment gives us a potential glimpse of changes that we could soon see stateside with respect to advertising and responsible gaming.