Rivers Pittsburgh’s New Sportsbook Rivals The Best Vegas Has To Offer

Written By Mark Gruetze on October 1, 2019 - Last Updated on October 2, 2019

Sports bettor Matthew Friedrichs thought the temporary sportsbook at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh was the best one east of Las Vegas.

The casino’s permanent $5.5 million sportsbook, which marked its grand opening on Monday, is even better, he said.

Rivers Sportsbook rivals the best Las Vegas can offer

The new facility, which Rivers’ general manager Bill Keena described as “state-of-the-art,” encompasses 5,500 square feet, making it larger than an NBA court. It also boasts:

  • A nonsmoking seating area with unobstructed views of 24 high-definition, 86-inch monitors and two 50.5-by-7-foot monitors, all devoted to sports programming.
  • There are 42 comfortable easy chairs that rock and are equipped with side tables, electrical outlets, and USB charging ports.
  • Six conversation pit seating areas.
  • More than 30 restaurant-style tables that can be pushed together or pulled apart to accommodate various group sizes.
  • A full-service bar only steps away, plus food and beverage attendants. A kiosk for placing food and drink orders will be added soon, Keena said.
  • There are 27 self-service betting kiosks lining one side of the book, plus easy access to six betting windows. Six other sports betting kiosks are elsewhere on the casino floor.

“I’ve seen every sportsbook in Las Vegas,” said Keena, who formerly lived there. “Not one (casino) has a nicer sportsbook than this one.”

Friedrichs, a self-employed computer programmer from Wheeling, WV, agreed. He said he enjoys the parlays and other betting options that Rivers offers and other sites don’t.

Keena told PlayPennsylvania that 75%-80% of sports wagers at Rivers come from kiosks or online at the casino’s BetRivers online sportsbook. The windows for placing bets face-to-face are a short walk from the viewing area.

Rivers is about two blocks from Heinz Field, where the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals played NFL’s Monday Night Football. Keena lauded the casino’s ties with Pittsburgh’s three professional sports franchises, the Steelers, the NHL’s Penguins, and the MLB’s Pirates.

Iceburgh, the Penguins’ mascot, and Cheese Chester, one of the Pirates’ racing pierogies, participated in the opening celebration, which ended with the sound system blasting Styx’s Renegade, which is something of a Pittsburgh anthem.

The new sportsbook occupies the space that formerly housed Levels Lounge. Slot machines will be installed in the area where the temporary sportsbook was located.

The temporary sportsbook opened in December 2018, and the handle has risen steadily.

Rivers considers sports betting to be a big boon to the bottom line

In the first six months, sports bettors wagered $51 million with Rivers, and state records show that in the past three, the total is $43 million, with the NFL and NHL seasons getting underway.

Keena said the addition of sports betting helps increase revenue throughout the casino.

“We’ve seen an increase in table games play, an increase in slots, and clearly an increase in food and beverage,” he said. While the casino has added a burger restaurant called Flipt and an events center for concerts and other large gatherings, “I think the sportsbook has contributed big-time.”

More developments are in store. Andrews Steakhouse, which had been Rivers’ high-end restaurant since the casino opened in 2009, will close after the holidays, with the space being renovated for Martorano’s Prime, operated by celebrity chef Steve Martorano. Rivers expects to start construction within a few weeks on an adjacent hotel, a 219-room, $60 million project called The Landing. Online casino gaming is also in store as soon as state regulators approve an online casino skin. Rivers’ sister casino, SugarHouse in Philadelphia, already offers online gaming.

Keena said that enhancing the sportsbook and hotel will help elevate Rivers to the status of a “regional destination.”

“That’s what I’ve been telling our owners I want this to become,” Keena said. “This becomes a destination, especially when you think about the amenities the city has to offer. We’re absolutely getting people coming in from the Northeast region. Whether you’re a business traveler, or you’re coming in for sports, or to attend a convention, we’re going to be a destination for them.”

The sportsbook hours are as follows:

  • Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. – midnight
  • Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Sunday: 9 a.m. – midnight
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Mark Gruetze

Mark Gruetze of suburban Pittsburgh, a skilled recreational gambler for more than 35 years, covers casinos and gaming from a player’s perspective. He is a retired journalist and wrote the Player's Advantage gambling column for seven years.

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