LARCHWOOD, IOWA (KELO) – It will be a year next week since Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, Iowa opened its Betfred Sportsbook, allowing guests to wager on professional and college games in a Las Vegas-style setting . But the pandemic temporarily suspended betting when the casino closed for two and a half months. Players have since returned to sports betting and are looking forward to placing their bets on the upcoming Super Bowl. Players now have a new tool they can use to bet on their favorite teams.

He has the same name as the legendary soul singer, only this Marvin Gaye is from Sioux Falls and when it comes to betting on sports at Grand Falls Casino he knows what’s going on.

“You come here, you watch the sport, you can watch your team play and at the same time you make money betting, so that’s a good thing,” Gaye said.

Gaye comes to Betfred Sportsbook every day after work.

“It’s 50-50, sometimes I win, I lose,” said Gaye.

Gaye is part of the sports betting resurgence that kicked off at the start of the pandemic last year.

“We started sports betting with a big bang and we were ready for March Madness and then COVID and it got a little soft after that,” said Sharon Haselhoff, general manager of Grand Falls Casino.

Sports betting remained weak after Grand Falls reopened in June.

“The summer was a little slow because people were betting on table tennis,” said Haselhoff.

However, the arrival of the soccer and basketball season resulted in a strong year-end for sports betting.

“For Iowa and even Betfred here in December it was the biggest month for sport, and last weekend with the playoffs it was the biggest weekend we had here for sport, so it was really good,” said Haselhoff said.

Haselhoff expects another big hold for the Super Bowl next month. They also look forward to the March Madness of college basketball and the return of Missouri Valley Conference football delayed by the pandemic.

“We’ll be back playing football here in the spring to bet with SDSU, USD and North Dakota and I think we’ll have some fun things to do in the spring,” said Haselhoff.

Technology could play a crucial role in sports betting in the future. Starting January 1st, people will be able to place bets online using their phone or a mobile website. But you have to be in Iowa to place your bets.

“So that helps with registration and increases those online registrations, so Betfred is seeing an increase in registrations across the state, not just in this particular area but across the state, which has helped increase their online presence,” said Haselhoff.

Grand Falls is expecting large crowds in the coming weeks, although online betting negates some of the incentive for players to show up at the casino.

“Last weekend the line for the playoff games was in the middle bar, so people are still coming in, the seats for the Super Bowl Sunday are full,” said Haselhoff.

Some regulars like Gaye who don’t live in Iowa say they will handle online betting.

“If I can drive here from Sioux Falls, I’ll just come in and bet than do it online,” Gaye said.

However, betting on your mobile device is expected to generate more interest in Betfred. When the second year starts everyone who wants to bet in person or online has a sporting chance.

Betfred is based in the UK and Grand Falls was the first sports betting company in the US. Last year the presence was expanded to Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Masks are required in Grand Falls. Hand sanitizer and wipes are also found throughout the facility for guests and staff.