Dave & Buster's Wagering Already A Potential Bust Before Launch


Gambling and kids don’t mix. Just ask Las Vegas, which in the late ‘90s tried to turn Sin City into a fun experience for the entire family with several now-defunct amusement and water parks. Turns out gambling adults don’t want kids around.

Apparently Dave & Buster’s thought its customers would enjoy betting against their friends and family for actual money on its midway. Per the recent announcement of the chain’s partnership with gamification tech company Lucra Sports, customers will be able to wager against one another on arcade games while inside the establishment. While some adults may welcome the competition, media and political figures have been yelling “wrong” from every rooftop.

As gambling laws are a state-by-state issue, one Illinois representative, Dan Didech, who is chairman of the house gaming committee, responded to the D&B news by filing “The Family Wagering Prohibition Act.” The bill would not only prohibit “family amusement establishment(s) like Dave & Buster’s from 'facilitating' wagering on its games, it would also ban advertising of such,” according to

“It is inappropriate for family-friendly arcades to facilitate unregulated gambling on their premises. These businesses simply do not have the ability to oversee gambling activity in a safe and responsible manner,” Didech said in a statement.

Despite D&B’s midway carnival games, the chain has made it clear in filings that its demographic is adults between 21 and 39. And it appears to be doing just fine in that demo, with recently reporting that “the sports bar arcade that invites harried grown-ups to cast aside their worries and ‘unlearn adulthood,’ is thriving.”

In 2022, D&B spent $832 million to buy Main Event, a chain of entertainment complexes that explicitly caters to young families and kids. A representative from Lucra declined to comment to on whether the Main Event locations would also feature cash gaming.

It is unclear how D&B will keep kids under 21 from wagering/gambling in their establishments, or frankly if the company even WANTs kids as customers. The chain has put a heavy emphasis on happy hour and adult entrée specials in the past several months.

“I can't see how that would be good for (D&B),” commented Rembrand CMO Cory Treffiletti to QSR Insider about the chain’s moving to a customer base made up mainly of adults. audience. “If you go their [stores], they are very filled with kids.  I would think they would lose too much of their audience if they made that move, but I could be wrong.”

Social media personalities also weighed in on the controversy, with sports business expert Joe Pompliano commenting on X ,“I'm not sure there is a better sign that America is headed toward a gambling problem than Dave & Buster's offering its customers the ability to bet real money on pop-a-shot and skee-ball games.”

Dave & Buster’s did not respond for comment at press time.

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