- Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady is expected to launch a retail sportsbook later this Summer.
- Hal Wafer has previously held positions with the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, Caesars Horseshoe Tunica, and BetAmerica.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – The upcoming sportsbook at Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady looks to be in good hands. In an announcement made by Rivers Casino on Wednesday, Hal Wafer (also known as Harborside Hal), will be managing the new sports betting area.
“We were immediately impressed by Hal’s depth of experience, professionalism, and understanding of what it takes to build and sustain a sportsbook that will provide our guests with a truly unique and unforgettable sports betting experience,” said Justin Moore, acting General Manager of Rivers Casino.
Wafer boasts a notable background in the US sports wagering industry. After starting his career in 1998 as the Race & Sportsbook Operations Supervisor at Coast Resorts in Las Vegas Nevada, Harborside Hal has gone on to work for several other sports betting companies.
Wafer’s most recent work experience comes as having served as the Racing and Sportsbook Supervisor at Caesars Horseshoe in Robinsonville, Mississippi.
“It is truly an honor to come to Rivers Casino and join a team that has quickly earned one of the best reputations in the industry,” Wafer commented. “Rivers Casino is focused on providing the best guest experience possible and that will be my primary focus as the new Rivers Sportsbook Manager.”
LegalSportsBetting got a chance to speak with Wafer in order to further explore his ambitions for Rivers Casino and how sports betting in New York may differ than his last positions.
One initiative unique to Rivers will be that Wafer will not only serve as the Sportsbook Manager but also as the resident personality of the sportsbook and will share insightful betting tips and provide instructional opportunities to guests who are new at this type of gaming.
“My thing is to really educate folks out there to make it more enjoyable to partake in legalized sports betting,” said Wafer.
While working in Mississippi, Wafer was able to answer questions people may have on sports wagering through a ten-minute segment three days a week on the number one rock radio station in Memphis, TN. He would explain betting terminology as well as common bets that people may overlook.
“My belief is if you’re going to bet on somebody to win the Super Bowl, you should also bet on them to win their conference because they have to win their conference before heading to the Super Bowl,” explained Wafer. “If you don’t you’re leaving money on the floor.”
However, certain bets will be off limits according to the rules set by the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC). The laws regarding sports betting vary from Mississippi to New York.
The NYSGC recently approved regulations earlier this month and are now awaiting the State Register to publish them before the Commission can begin to issue licenses.
“One thing that stood out to me is you can’t bet any in-state collegiate teams and/or collegiate events happening in the state,” said Wafer.
Betting on collegiate teams and events outside the state will still be allowed as well as placing wagers on every professional team across the country. Other rules that guests will have to follow include that only those that are 21 years old or older will be able to bet on sports in NY.
As far as wagering types go, common ones such as straight bets, parlays, totals, and in-game betting will all be debuted with the sportsbook opening. Other more complex wagering types should come in time.
“A lot of this stuff will be introduced as we go along…there is no set in stone timeline,” said Wafer.
One betting type Wafer will not have to worry about is managing mobile sports betting at Rivers Casino. Mobile betting inside casinos is offered in Mississippi. However, a recent bill which would have allowed them to do so in New York died in committee before it could be passed.
“If they do legalize it down the road so to speak to have a better handle on it…it’s definitely a good product offering or part of a product mix with land-based brick-and-mortar establishment…as long as it’s handled and set up correctly per jurisdiction,” commented Wafer on the topic of mobile wagering.
Wafer will still have his hands full with the retail sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Schenectady.
The sports betting area will stretch a little over 5,000 square feet of space, accommodate up to 80 guests, and feature a 53 feet long by 9 feet high LED video wall. There will also be 16 self-service betting kiosks and six staffed betting windows to take in any bets.
The sportsbook at Rivers Casino & Resort is expected to officially launch later this Summer and in time for the upcoming 2019 NFL season.
– In his career, Hasan has worked both local and state government positions—including the Attorney General’s Office in Florida. On top of being familiar with the legislative process, he has also been researching and writing on the legality of sports betting across the US. Outside of work you’ll most likely find him producing or playing music, playing sports, or working on creative writing projects. You’ll also catch him at Doak Campbell Stadium cheering on the Noles.