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    Sunday, June 16, 2024

    Foxwoods' permanent sportsbook opening Saturday

    Jason Guyot, left, CEO and president of Foxwoods Resort Casino, stops to talk with Dave and Mary Audet of Dartmouth, Mass., after they paused to look in the entrance of the new DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Mashantucket — Not so long ago, a small room with a couple of taps, a wall-mounted TV set and a display of bowling trophies constituted a sports bar.

    How far we’ve come.

    The new DraftKings Sportsbook at Foxwoods Resort Casino — “softly” opening to the public Saturday — features more than 12,000 square feet of space on two floors; a 50-by-30-foot LED monitor; an additional 300 linear feet of wall-hugging TV screens; two full bars and kitchen service on both levels; plush furniture; and two-dozen beers on tap.

    And, oh yeah, you can wager on sports, either with a cashier at a betting window or at a self-service kiosk.

    “We wanted to do something here that no one can match,” Jason Guyot, Foxwoods’ president and chief executive officer, told reporters Friday. “That LED screen is like something you’d see at Gillette Stadium" in Foxborough, Mass.

    Earlier in the week, Foxwoods invited the media to Friday’s “sneak preview” of the sportsbook but waited until Friday morning to announce the location would open to the public at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

    Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, southeastern Connecticut's tribal casinos, opened temporary sportsbooks Sept. 30.

    Foxwoods, whose temporary sportsbook was in its original race book, closed that site for future "repurposing," shifting all of its off-track betting to the new DraftKings Sportsbook. Built in space formerly occupied by the Stony Brook Brewery, a brewpub that opened in 2018 and closed when COVID-19 broke out in 2020, the new sportsbook will anchor a high-traffic area in the Grand Pequot Casino. Its immediate neighbors are the Sugar Factory, the Scorpion Bar and the Play Arena gaming area.

    Guyot said the location's soft opening was a bit ahead of schedule despite supply-chain issues that delayed the delivery of materials during construction. He said sports-betting activity at the temporary site “has exceeded expectations,” but no official revenue figures that would bear that out have yet been released.

    In addition to the casinos’ sportsbooks, retail sports betting in the state is being offered by the Connecticut Lottery Corp., which so far has opened six locations. Fifteen lottery locations have been authorized, none of which can be within 25 miles of the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan reservations that are home to the casinos. Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun and the lottery also are providing online sports betting.

    Guyot said the DraftKings sportsbook opening comes as Foxwoods still is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic’s effects. He said the casino has hired 55 new employees to staff the sportsbook and still has another 300 to 350 openings to fill throughout the property.

    “It’s been a tough 18 months, having to lay off so many people and now trying to replace them,” he said. “We compare ourselves to 2019, pre-pandemic, and we’re still not back to those levels.”

    Foxwoods is planning an official ribbon-cutting for the DraftKings Sportsbook on Dec. 8.

    Jeff Hamilton, Mohegan Sun’s president and general manager, said Friday his casino expects to open its permanent FanDuel Sportsbook by the Super Bowl, which is scheduled for Feb. 13, 2022.

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

    DraftKings retail technical manager Joel Soukup, from the Boston headquarters, installs gaming hardware Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, at the betting and cashier counter of DraftKings Sportsbook before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    The video wall and bar area at the DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    The bar with video wall and a few video poker slot machines on the bar counter at the DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Sports betting kiosks against a video wall at DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, before its opening Saturday at Foxwoods Resort Casino. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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