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Arcade chain Dave & Buster’s to let adult customers place a friendly bet on its games

Stephanie Hughes May 1, 2024
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Dave & Buster’s new gaming platform is not technically gambling, but rather skills-based gaming, which is more lightly regulated and taxed than gambling on games of chance. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Arcade chain Dave & Buster’s to let adult customers place a friendly bet on its games

Stephanie Hughes May 1, 2024
Heard on:
Dave & Buster’s new gaming platform is not technically gambling, but rather skills-based gaming, which is more lightly regulated and taxed than gambling on games of chance. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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How’s your Skee-Ball game? Say you’re playing a friendly game at the arcade, you know you could beat your buddy and you’d like to come away with something other than bragging rights.

Well, this week, we learned that arcade and restaurant chain Dave & Buster’s will start letting its adult customers place wagers on the outcomes of their arcade games using the company’s app.

“We allow for the ability to play for cash,” said Michael Madding, chief operating officer of Lucra Sports, which is working with Dave & Buster’s on its new gaming platform.

Lucra verifies the identities of users to make sure they’re at least 18, he said. Madding also added that this is not gambling — it’s putting your money on your own abilities. 

“We’re very conscious to not use the word ‘bet’ or ‘wager’ anywhere in our product,” he said. “We say things like ‘challenge’ or ‘competition’ or ‘contest.'”

This is known as skills-based gaming, and it’s much more lightly regulated and taxed than gambling on games of chance, noted Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross.

Having an app as an intermediary also means people will be more likely to compete with not just their friends, “but against people you really don’t know and, for example, you don’t necessarily trust to pay up if you do beat them,” he said.

And Lucra executive Michael Madding sees opportunities beyond the arcade — like competing for cash or prizes while using an exercise app. 

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