The Seneca County casino's first NFL season with legal betting is underway

TYRE — Officials at Del Lago Casino welcomed bettors to their new Draft Kings Sports Book Lounge this week for the first NFL game of the season.

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers faced off on NBC Thursday night. There were people betting on both teams.

"I’m going with the Bears," Eric Milton of Geneva said. "I’m going to take the Bears and under $20 two team."

Milton is excited to legally place bets on his favorite teams.

“I think it’s real good," Milton said. "This is the first time we can bet legally and not have to worry about going to jail."

The lounge opened in August at the Seneca County venue after New York became the 10th state to allow gambling on sports, with restrictions. Online betting is illegal in New York, and bets on New York universities are also prohibited.

Gavin Mercado, Sports Book manager at Del Lago, says the experience in the sports lounge includes big-screen televisions that people can see from all the entrances, plus good and beverages.

“You’re watching it basically front row," Mercado said. "You basically feel like you’re in the stadium without being in the stadium."

Officials at Del Lago hope sports betting will bring in more bodies to help the casino's bottom line.

"I think it’s great for our repeat guests that come in here every day because at the end of the day this is a new amenity that we can offer something special," Mercado said. "Then also it drives in new guests as well as people that may not have come here before."

Some people are already planning repeat trips. Thursday didn't end up going Milton's way — Green Bay beat the Bears, 10-3 — but he said he'll be back, regularly.

“I’ll be back here every week putting in bets for the NBA, NFL and even soccer when that comes," Milton said.

The Draft Kings Sports Book is the closest location near Rochester and Buffalo where people can place sports bets.