Half the battle for sports betting supremacy in a state is brand recognition. Well, maybe not half. But a big chunk.
If they can, sportsbooks will often try to partner with spokespeople uniquely qualified to promote their sports betting platform in a new state. It could be an athlete, a celebrity, a well-known media figure. Anybody, really, who can help motivate residents to download one app over another.
We see this happening right now in Massachusetts. And we’ll continue to see it through launch and beyond. Expect more athletes and celebrities to endorse sportsbooks as the six apps launching March 10 try to hog as much of the MA online sports betting market as possible.
So, who is promoting which sportsbook in Massachusetts? Who might become the top brand ambassadors?
Here’s a rundown.
David Ortiz, Zdeno Chara, Aly Raisman, Brian Scalabrine
DraftKings is counting on the star power of Massachusetts sports legends to bolster its marketing campaigns. During the Super Bowl, the Boston-based company spent a pretty penny to air a star-studded commercial that included comedian Kevin Hart and Red Sox legend David “Big Papi” Ortiz.
DraftKings also shot an ad in January at TD Garden that features Ortiz, former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, Needham-native and retired gymnast Aly Raisman, and Boston Celtics TV analyst and former player Brian Scalabrine.
That commercial hasn’t aired yet. Perhaps it will on launch day. And we’ll see if it begins a sustained relationship with Ortiz, Chara, Raisman, and Scalabrine. That brand ambassador group would be hard to beat.
MORE INFO: DraftKings Sportsbook MA Review
Rob Gronkowski, Adam Vinatieri
FanDuel also spared no expense in Super Bowl marketing with an ad that featured former New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski attempting to kick a field goal. His “coach” in the promos leading up to the game-day ad was former NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri, who spent 10 seasons with the Patriots. Gronkowski is also a regular on FanDuel TV.
As the company rolls out its promotions to Massachusetts residents, be on the lookout for Gronk in online and TV ads. He is already the face of the FanDuel Massachusetts pre-launch promo of $100 in bonus bets.
Perhaps Vinatieri will make more appearances as well.
And … could Gronk convince former teammate Tom Brady to get in on the FanDuel promotion? It seems unlikely, as FOX is going to make Brady the face of its sports product — including, one would think, FOX Bet. But we’ll see.
READ MORE: FanDuel Massachusetts Review
With a long list of celebrity athletes on its marketing roster, Caesars Sportsbook outpaces the competition in the brand ambassador department. Although it still hasn’t made public ties with a Massachusetts celebrity.
Notable names featured in TV commercials and online ads for the sportsbook include the entire Manning football dynasty: Archie, Eli, Peyton, and Cooper. The Mannings are official Caesars Sportsbook brand ambassadors and participate in live events for the operator. Other entertainers on Caesar’s roster include actors J.B. Smoove and Patton Oswalt.
MORE: Caesars Sportsbook MA Review
MGM Springfield’s retail and online sports betting partner, BetMGM, is owned by the casino’s corporate parent, MGM Resorts. Former Boston Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque placed a ceremonial first bet when the casino’s retail sportsbook opened on Jan. 31.
Nationally, entertainer Jamie Foxx is the face of BetMGM and greets bettors on the sportsbook’s website and app when they log in. So, Commonwealth bettors will see a lot of Foxx’s face as they navigate BetMGM’s sports betting options online.
But the main draw is former Celtics star Kevin Garnett. Think it’s any coincidence we’ve seen more of Garnett’s face in BetMGM ads ahead of the Massachusetts launch? Expect to see much more of the Big Ticket.
MORE INFO: BetMGM MA Review
Shaq, Julian Edelman, Johnny Damon
With his famous luxurious locks, Red Sox legend Johnny Damon was on hand at Encore Boston Harbor when WynnBET opened its retail sportsbook doors at the state’s largest casino. We’ll see if WynnBET works out an ambassador relationship with Damon, one of the most beloved former athletes in Boston.
Former Patriots star Julian Edelman already is partnered with WynnBET, so that’s already a big win for the app in MA.
Plus, Shaquille O’Neal is the face of WynnBET. And … remember the 2010-11 season? Remember he was a Celtic for a year? We wouldn’t be surprised to see WynnBET pay Shaq to heavily promote its product in Massachusetts.
READ MORE: WynnBET Massachusetts Review
Social media personality and boxer Jake Paul is one of the founders of the microbetting platform Betr. Paul wears Betr-branded gear during fights and is a walking ad for the brand. Paul and other Betr personalities are featured in the operator’s social media promotional ads, including viral sports on TikTok.
Given his social media reach with millions of followers across several platforms, Betr has the leg up on other sportsbooks when it comes to social media. A Feb. 28 Betr TikTok video predicted that the Boston Celtics would win the 2023 NBA Championship and power forward Jayson Tatum will win Finals MVP.
Betr won’t launch March 10. It expects to go live in late March or April.
READ MORE: Betr Sportsbook MA Review
Dave Portnoy, Rob Ninkovich
The opening of a Barstool Sportsbook outlet at Plainridge Park Casino included a first wager made by Patriots legend Rob Ninkovich. Could Barstool keep him on as a brand ambassador?
Barstool Sports has a roster of media talent who produce podcasts, videos, and other content highlighting picks, odds, and predictions. They are included in the sportsbook’s social media channels as well.
Barstool founder Dave Portnoy is a Massachusetts native from Swampscott. The company released a video detailing its history in the Commonwealth featuring Portnoy discussing Barstool activity in the state. The tagline of the video: “Massachusetts we will see you on Mar. 10”
MORE: Barstool Sportsbook Massachusetts Review
Not every sportsbook that received approval from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission will go live as soon as possible.
Online operators Fanatics Sportsbook and Bally Bet will open in Massachusetts in May. Betway is set to launch in January 2024.