'Right-sizing' the spend
Marketing spending surged in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a federal ban on sports betting in 2018. Sportsbook brands shelled out millions on ads and promotions to lure gamblers every time a new state sanctioned sports betting. Sports betting is now live in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and legal but not yet live in six others, according to the American Gaming Association. New York’s massive sports gambling market came online in January.
But as each state’s betting market gets more mature, sportsbook execs are hopeful they won't have to spend as much on ads and promos. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins on an Aug. 5 earnings call expressed a desire to “dial back on promotions and marketing spend and continue to see user growth” in states where it has operated for a while.
Any sportsbook pullback would be bad news for TV networks and digital publishers, which have enjoyed new sources of revenue from the burgeoning industry as brands battle for market share. DraftKings and Caesars both shelled out major money for Super Bowl ads earlier this year, for instance.
Still, one expert projects brands will still spend big, especially during football season.
“I think we'll see some pretty sizable marketing spend around the start of NFL season from some if not all of the major sportsbook brands,” said Dustin Gouker, an analyst at legalsportsreport.com, which covers regulated sports betting. “The start of the NFL season is one of the best acquisition points for new customers, as there's increased interest in betting during Week 1,” he added, noting that “you also have the dynamic of this being the first full NFL season for New York, which should have the dynamic of creating a sizable bump or 'secondary launch' for the market.”
Another windfall for ad sellers could come if California legalizes sports betting; Proposition 27 on the November ballot, if passed would allow tribes or gambling companies to offer online sports betting in the Golden State.