NORTHWOOD — The Diamond Jo Worth casino near Northwood opened its sports gambling operation Thursday afternoon. The FanDuel Sportsbook includes three betting windows, six video displays including a large video wall, 11 self-service betting kiosks and one sports ticker.
FanDuel started a decade ago as a daily fantasy sports provider but last year got into the sports gambling business. FanDuel Midwest regional manager Jeff Hoose says they are partnering with the Diamond Jo’s parent company Boyd Gaming to open sports betting operations at their Iowa properties in Northwood and Dubuque as well as two more in Indiana. “We’re very excited about it. It’s legal here in the Midwest and FanDuel is on the vanguard of that. FanDuel is about fun and excitement and changing the way you watch games, and now we can do that. Now the people here in North Iowa can come down, walk up right to the counter, and bet on their local team tonight.”
Hoose says when you walk into the sports betting area and try to place a bet, you may feel a little intimidated. He says the staff is ready to help explain how sports wagering works. “There’s a lot of lights and numbers up there. It can be confusing if you haven’t done it before. The good news is, we’re here to walk you through it. We love doing this, it’s what we do. We’re meeting people every day who are going to be making their bet for the first time. We’ve got live people back there, I’ve got four people behind the counter right now and I’ve got other people wandering the floor. They’re going to walk you through it, they’re going to tell you everything you need to know to make sure you are a seasoned pro by the time you get to that window.”
While the Iowa Legislature approved sports gambling this past session on the heels of the United States Supreme Court’s decision last year that legalized sports gaming across the nation, bills to legalize sports gambing stalled in the Minnesota legislature this year. A number of Minnesotans crossed the border for yesterday’s opening day, including one man who drove over 400 miles from International Falls to Worth County. Hoose says FanDuel knows they for now will be able to tap into the Minnesota market. “Diamond Jo has always drawn a lot of people from Minnesota and now this should only amplify that.”
Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle John Randle placed the opening bet. He says he expects a lot of people will travel down I-35 from the Twin Cities to take advantage of the sports betting operation. “I definitely do. I think Minnesotans are always looking for a new experience and FanDuel is a new experience and I think it brings people in from all over the country. Right now we’ve got the State Fair going on. I think once the State Fair is over, it definitely is going to bring an opportunity, and it’s a new way of fans get involved with sports. Being here in Iowa, which is closest to the Cities, it definitely will.”
Randle wagered $93 for the Minnesota Twins to win yesterday. Randle wore 93 when he played for the Vikings. The FanDuel Sportsbook is located between the main cashier’s cage and the Big Wheel Bar.
== Video of ribbon cutting ceremony
== Video interview —- FanDuel Midwest regional manager Jeff Hoose
== Video interview — Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer John Randle