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Par-a-Dice Betting on Sports Gaming To Draw Younger Crowds

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The head of Par-a-Dice Hotel and Casino's parent company says sports betting may be just what's needed to bring people back to a business that's steadily lost customers over the last several years as video gaming became more convenient statewide.

Keith Smith is CEO of Boyd Gaming. He says Boyd has 14 sports books in Nevada, and seven in other states.

"Those seven sports books have all shown us the same thing. A lot of new faces. A lot of younger customers. People who weren't participating with us before," he said. "They're dining at our restaurants, they're drinking at our bars, and they're playing at our table games. So it's been a great additional amenity."

Sports betting applications for Illinois casinos were posted last month. Smith says Par-a-Dice is in the process of submitting an application. 

"It wouldn't take long. The way sports betting works, we'd really like to be open for the next NFL season. That really is an important season for us, so we would focus on that," he said. 

They're partnered with online sports book FanDuel in Indiana and Pennsylvania. But Illinois' new law was crafted to avoid giving that site and their main competitor, DraftKings, a competitive edge. 

The gaming law also allows riverboat casinos like Par-a-Dice to shift to land-based operations. Smith said while it's possible the casino may move some operations to land, he doesn't think it's likely they would give up their riverboat investment easily.

Smith said Boyd also plans to upgrade their steakhouse, deli and 200 hotel rooms. He also touted the opening of the Tin Lizard, a bar, restaurant, and entertainment venue inside the casino that he said is attracting a younger crowd.