Sports Gambling Marketing Opportunities

  • As US sports leagues and tournaments resume normal operations, the sports video business is mostly back to pre-pandemic levels.
  • And sports betting, now legal in nearly half of the US, is emerging as a market opportunity for brands and broadcasters alike.

The legalization of sports betting in more than 20 US states has opened up new business opportunities and potential pitfalls for broadcasters and others


Services that aim to link betting content like fantasy leagues with live broadcasts – or at least market them separately to sports and gambling audiences.

Graph showing the increase in sports betting revenue

Legalized sports betting in the US will generate $2.1 billion in revenue this year.

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The American Gaming Association (AGA) maintains a running list of US states where sports betting is legal, as well as those where betting is legal but not yet live. It also counts states with active sports gambling legislation as well as those with no legislation or dead legislation. As of May 2021, sports betting was legal and active in 21 states plus the District of Columbia. Another six states had legalized betting but did not yet have live services, and 14 other states had active pre-filed legalization legislation. Only 9 US states had either no or dead laws at the time.

A study by research and brokerage firm Gabelli Securities and the US Census Bureau estimates that legalized sports gambling in the US will generate $2.1 billion in revenue this year and forecast growth to $10.1 billion dollars by 2028.

Other companies are forecasting even higher revenues from legalized sports betting in the US, with Morgan Stanley forecasting a market size of $15 billion by 2025 and Macquarie Research predicting $30 billion by 2030. Additionally, MGM Resorts International predicts that sports betting will generate $13.5 billion by 2025, with 38 US states participating by then.

Despite the discrepancies in these forecasts, which could arise from differences in methodology, the realization is that gaming will bring significant new revenue for sports rights holders, as well as opportunities to integrate this content with traditional broadcasts and streams.

To that end, satellite TV and vMVPD provider Dish Network and gambling app DraftKings announced a deal in March 2021 that will integrate DraftKings content into live sports games. As part of the agreement, Dish customers with a Hopper receiver can use the DraftKings app to initiate bets and then watch live games matching those bets on their TVs. The agreement also includes fantasy league content. Prior to the announcement, DraftKings ran two 15-second ads during the Super Bowl.

Another early entry into the US sports gambling business is fuboTV, a sports-focused vMVPD. The company has market access licenses in New Jersey, Indiana and Iowa and is in advanced discussions with other states, according to co-founder and CEO David Gandler.

“Video and betting are neighboring businesses and business models that work well together and use the same demographic,” he said. “We surveyed users on our platform and found that 20% of fuboTV viewers bet regularly and 22% are willing to play bets on fuboTV seamlessly.”

Jason Wiese, senior vice president and director of strategic insights at Vab (formerly the Video Advertising Bureau), is also an avid sports bettor. He said: “Personally, I am very excited about legalized sports gambling. It’s another way to attract fans and get younger adults into esports franchises and watch more esports if they play within esports.”

In another sign of the dynamism of sports betting in the US, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s 19 regional sports networks have been rebranded as Bally’s in an agreement between the broadcaster and the casino operator.

Notwithstanding these initiatives, some experts are cautious about the link between sports and gambling.

“Gaming in general is a sensitive issue for brands and advertisers,” said JoAnna Foyle, senior vice president of inventory partnerships at The Trade Desk. “Regardless of legality, it’s just not usually a place that some of the more conservative brands want to be. That’s not to say there won’t be participation or that gambling won’t attract more advertisers, but at least for the biggest brands, there are question marks.”

In late 2020, AGA attempted to address brand safety and other concerns by forming a Compliance Review Committee to enforce the Association’s Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Betting. The project was inspired in part by the experiences of European countries with sports betting, where in some cases countries introduced crackdowns on advertising in response to complaints about ads being served to underage customers or other inappropriate uses of gambling-related marketing.

It’s too early to tell how the convergence of gaming and esports will play out in the US, but early signs point to a lucrative market with potential pitfalls — much like social media companies are concerned about their financial success to weigh their content and marketing practices for suitability.

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This article was originally published on eMarketer.

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