Should sports betting be served up in grocery aisles?

Photo: Getty Images/nd3000
Aug 17, 2022

Kroger, Giant Eagle and Acme Fresh Market have applied for licenses to install sports gaming kiosks at Ohio locations as the state gets set to legalize sports betting at the start of 2023.

Ohio’s Casino Control Commission has granted preapproval for the kiosks at 62 Giant Eagle locations, 42 Kroger locations and nine Acme Fresh Market stores. Final approval comes from the commission.

Sports betting only became legal outside of Nevada in 2018. It’s now allowed in more than two dozen states and set to expand to others. Sports betting has since been seeing exponential growth, driven by casinos and online sites such as Fanduel and Draftkings.

Delaware has been the only other state to allow sports betting at restaurants, bars, food establishments and retailers, including grocers and c-stores, that act as lottery agents. In Delaware, it’s restricted to football parlay bets, involving multiple games on one bet.

In Ohio, lottery officials prequalified 1,254 businesses interested in hosting sports betting kiosks through Friday, August 12, with the majority consisting of bars and restaurants, according to In Ohio, the gaming kiosks will offer a variety of betting activities, including spreading wagers, over-under wagers, money line wagers and parlay wagers.

Establishments in Ohio applying for sports betting licenses must have liquor licenses and lottery sales capabilities. As with lottery tickets, a primary benefit of adding sports gambling kiosks at retailers is foot traffic.

Matt Schoch, content manager at PlayOhio, part of the PlayUSA network of websites covering gambling news, told Columbus Business First, “Now, while you’re picking up snacks and drinks for the game, you can also bet on the Buckeyes, Browns or Bengals. Any reason to get more folks in the store is worth a shot.”

Grocers and other retailers would be exposing themselves to risks of gambling losses and addiction. Ken Davis of Fairborn, OH, told WHIO-TV, “There’s going to be a lot of broke people; wives will be mad at them.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see adding sports gaming kiosks as an acceptable extension of lottery sales and a promising foot traffic driver for stores? Do the upsides outweigh the potential risks?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"This is one of the oldest tactics in retail. Find something that’s selling well someplace else and start selling it in your store. "
"If there is a buck to be made, retailers will do it."
"Grocers need to implement socially responsible practices to proactively manage potential addiction issues."

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17 Comments on "Should sports betting be served up in grocery aisles?"

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Mark Ryski

Gambling is becoming ubiquitous, and so extending gaming kiosks in stores seems to be a reasonable extension to lottery gaming. But how much more traffic is this really going to create? I doubt that it will deliver much incremental traffic. Furthermore, it’s remarkable to me what retailers will do to drive foot traffic. If retailers spent their time focused on converting the traffic they already have in their stores instead of just focusing on driving more traffic, I believe they would deliver better results.

Gary Sankary

Absolutely not. Full stop. I’m ambivalent about selling lottery tickets in convenience stores and at the service counters in grocery stores. My personal opinion is that the lottery probably isn’t all that attractive to most gamblers. Still I’m sure there are plenty of examples of lives ruined by lottery gaming, and I just don’t see it.
Sports betting on the other hand? I have to believe it is the “drug of choice” for problem gamblers. There are, or will be, plenty of ways for sports betting fanatics to get their fix. Between sports bars and mobile apps, I don’t think the people interested in making a wager will have trouble finding a way to do it. And when you put a kiosk in a grocery store, I don’t think the controls will be in place to keep high school kids from developing a bad habit. We don’t need to have it in every public gathering space.

Ken Morris

Who needs end caps when you can have slot machines there instead? “Honey, I’m going to the store again. We’re almost out of, um, over-unders.” Perhaps we should keep gambling out of retail. Who wants to wait for the person in front of them while they’re trying to figure out if they can beat the spread on the Patriots-Steelers game? This is a bad idea squared or cubed. Everyone needs to watch the movie Idiocracy again. This is where we’re headed, folks.

Ron Margulis

The drug store industry was very upset when supermarkets started to add pharmacies. The supermarket industry was very upset when drug stores added food. The restaurant industry was very upset when supermarkets started to add prepared foods. The convenience store industry was very upset when supermarkets added gas stations. And every retailer was very upset when Amazon started selling whatever they sold. This is one of the oldest tactics in retail. Find something that’s selling well someplace else and start selling it in your store. Like all those other instances of hijacking a product or service, sports gaming kiosks will work in some places (certainly Vegas!) and not in others.

Richard Hernandez
Richard Hernandez
Merchant Director
5 months 21 days ago

This reminds me of when there was a game room (a space where they had a bank of game machines) in many stores. They realized that the income did not compensate for the lack of sales that it brought into the store. Same for this. I just can’t see this generating enough income to compensate for it not bringing in sales.

Lisa Goller

As sports betting booms, adding gaming kiosks could attract new grocery shoppers and get them into the habit of buying big baskets while they bet.

Grocers need to implement socially responsible practices to proactively manage potential addiction issues.

Lee Peterson

The old-schooler in me thinks this is SO wrong, really. Getting people, especially young people, to gamble is such a huge mistake, something we’ll pay for later. And for retailers to participate in the demise of someone’s wallet in this manner is also wrong, at least to me. I don’t know if you watch ESPN or any sports shows at all, but the ad push to gamble is pervasive enough, let alone having it in your face when you go to a store of any kind. Again, that’s the old-school in me. The other side of me sees it as being like the ads that glorify liquor. It’s “wrong” to instigate crimes, but OK to drink and gamble: fall of the Roman Empire, my friends.

Jeff Weidauer

This move puts supermarkets in the position of dealing with behaviors they are not prepared for. The fact that it’s even being considered demonstrates a clear lack of direction for grocery stores and what market they truly serve.

Joel Rubinson

If there is a buck to be made, retailers will do it. People can gamble right from their phones while shopping too, so I’m not sure it’s changing societal behaviors to offer this or not offer it. Today online betting sites are big advertisers on sports TV and who would have predicted that 20 years ago?

David Spear

OK, maybe there’s a traffic driver piece to this, but long-term, I don’t see real value being created for grocery retailers. If anything, it could generate unintended consequences, where core, local shoppers react negatively to the kiosks and begin to shop elsewhere.

Scott Norris

On a different discussion board yesterday, someone brought up the perpetual promise of all the jobs, tourism, and economic development a new casino would bring – and then pointed to all the impoverished towns in Louisiana with their own casinos. If you think gambling is what’s going to save your store, better work on your exit plan instead.

Tara Kirkpatrick

Sports gaming kiosks will not bring in more foot traffic. At Apptopia we have seen sports betting mobile app engagement is seasonal, with the huge spike between the Super Bowl and NCAA championships then a drop off for the rest of the year. (Monthly active users among the top apps dropped 30 percent from April, in July). Grocery stores see a lot of volume the day of Super Bowl parties as it is – the only thing kiosks will drive is additional lines in the store, so I hope they are strategically placed away from cash registers for those few days when sports betting is hyped to the masses.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

Aren’t grocery stores crowded enough with Instacart pickers? Don’t clog up the aisles with more non-shoppers – why not focus on optimizing experience and sales from existing shoppers instead of adding kiosks that don’t cater to core shoppers?

Steve Montgomery

Bad Idea. End of discussion.

Craig Sundstrom

I find this easy to answer, since I don’t see any upside; It’s just a pointless distraction.

Shep Hyken

Lottery tickets are one thing, but moving into true gambling — sports betting, blackjack and poker games, etc. — takes the concept of gambling to another level. I’m not against the idea, but retailers beware. There could be backlash from customers who might not be so open-minded. That said, take a look at how Las Vegas grocery stores, convenience stores, airports, restaurants, and more have done it successfully. It works there, but gambling is part of the Vegas culture. I’d want to get more insights from customer focus-groups before making any definitive statements.

Brad Halverson

Being in the food retail business means you decide if you want your brand to be known as the best at what you do, or simply be all things to all people.

Food focused grocers work back from the customer and use available space for either additional product variety/selection, improving service, or making the customer experience better.

"This is one of the oldest tactics in retail. Find something that’s selling well someplace else and start selling it in your store. "
"If there is a buck to be made, retailers will do it."
"Grocers need to implement socially responsible practices to proactively manage potential addiction issues."

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