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USA online betting and sports sponsorship Q&A for SBC Americas

With three casino/sports team tie-ups already, do you think we're just seeing the start of a rush of betting/gaming sponsorships and US sports?

Inevitably yes – for better or worse this land grab for eyeballs happens every time a new market regulates with cash rich/ subtlety poor operators clamouring to spend their marketing Dollars in any way possible to simply generate brand noise above and beyond their competitors. There’s still a mistaken belief that a logo and URL repeated a million times is a marketing strategy when in fact it should be part of a diverse and collaborative channel marketing effort.

Will the market differ significantly from the UK/European experience? Will shirt sponsorships be less of a factor? What works currently for sponsors in the US?

Without knowing the intricacies of State by State advertising and sponsorship law over there, it’s hard to say how closely it’ll replicate the European football (sorry, soccer) model. It’s likely that as soon as the legal sponsorship real estate is defined a series of bidding wars will determine who gets the cream off the top. You can’t forget some gaming marketers are creative types so expect blimps, guerrilla tactics, logos in the bottom of beer mugs and related silliness to follow. If the NHL doesn’t have a sponsored gaming chip puck by next year I think we’ll all feel a bit let down.

What are the lessons from the UK/European experience? Will the sponsorships - as with most EPL deals - be relatively short-lived?

Good sports sponsorship deals are long-term relationships with neat strategic fit and perfect execution. The short termers will either be operators who have overspent/ gone bust or those who have realised brand building is a long road to customer acquisition. They’ll pile into direct response leaving the major players battling their franchise teams against each other.

What does the EPL experience with Asian-facing brands tell us? Is this a phenomenon that only occurs in the UK?

The Asian Handicap books like the EPL for one reason only – it gets their logo and URL in front of a few hundred million Chinese bettors back home every weekend, which is incredibly hard to do whilst Google and Xi Jinping/ the PRC are in a huff with each other. In the USA the Asian books will find it harder to get a toe hold on a license, but the behaviours of regulated operators will likely be similar.

Finally, is it likely the AGA is overstating the amounts here? Where might there be too much optimism?

A cursory look at the AGA’s website might offer a clue here: - “The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $261 billion U.S. casino industry”. First, they like talking about big dollar figures. Second, their purpose is to promote big gaming. Their message is clear in their research – ‘regulated gaming is good for America’s favourite sporting franchises, we like supporting them so please, like us back’.

There are going to be telephone numbers spent, for sure, but how much is anyone’s guess.

Harry Lang (@MrHarryLang) is the founder of Brand Architects, a brand and integrated marketing consultancy. You can contact him at or via LinkedIn.

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