Industry Profile: Rivers Sportsbook Manager & Horseplayer Hal Wafer

This weekend, the action at Rivers Sportsbook is about to get hotter with one of the busiest three-day stretches of big-time football games of the year — six NFL Wild Card playoff games over the next two days, including the Buffalo Bills’ first home postseason game since 1996, followed by the College Football Playoff championship game Monday night between Ohio State and Alabama.

Rivers Casino and Resort reopened in early September — just in time for the start of the NFL season — following months of shutdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, and the sportsbook has been busy ever since.

Rivers Sportsbook is a luxury-styled sports lounge furnished with individual VIP club chairs and table seating, including five private booths with TV monitors – each accommodating up to six people and available to reserve. Currently COVID restrictions apply.

Though capacity in the casino is limited to 25 percent of maximum, sportsbook manager Hal Wafer — nicknamed “Harborside Hal” — said the public was enthusiastic about getting back to betting on games at Rivers, one of only eight sites in the state where sports gambling is allowed.

“We’ve been busy right along, all year, since right after we came back from COVID,” Wafer said in a phone interview earlier this week. “Like we say, ‘football is king,’ and people were very excited and wanting to wager. They love wagering on football, so ever since [reopening], it’s been very busy.”