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A New Age of Sponsorship in the Sports Betting Space

A New Age of Sponsorship in the Sports Betting Space

8 Minute Read

  • The Canadian government passed Bill C-218 in August, which officially legalized single-event sports betting in Canada

  • Sports betting operators have been actively seeking new sports partners to add attention, excitement, and build engagement to their brand

  • The four sponsorship approaches operators are taking is partnering with sports properties, with retired athletes, with sports broadcasters, and adult recreational leagues

Single event sports betting is coming to Canada, and it could be launching in Ontario as early as this month, leading to a flurry of investments and sponsorships by sports betting operators.

This August, the Canadian government enacted Bill C-218, giving provincial governments discretion to conduct and manage single-event sports betting in their respective provinces. Ontario is now the first province to accept applications for registration from prospective sports betting operators, with operators from Canada and abroad vying for a piece of the pie—projected at $25 billion annually across Canada.

With many sports betting operators wanting a piece of the action, MKTG examines four sponsorship approaches sports betting operators are taking to build their brand and connect with Canadians.

Mass Reach with National Property Partnership

One of the most common and effective tactics sportsbooks have been using is partnerships with well-known national sports properties. With high brand visibility nationwide, these partnerships enable sportsbooks to drive bettors to their platform nationwide—anticipating operations in other provinces as they open up—instead of partnering with regional properties that reaches mainly local markets. Ahead of the 2021 CFL season, the league announced that BetRegal, a Canadian-founded sportsbook, signed a multi-year deal to become their official gaming partner. This partnership aligns with BetRegal’s plans to build relationships with ‘iconic’ Canadian sports brands and help them promote CFL fans on a national level.

theScore Bet, a sports betting app owned by theScore, recently became the Official Gaming Partner of Golf Canada and the Official Betting Operator of the PGA TOUR across the United States and Canada. Connecting with the Canadian golf community and gaining access to marquee professional men’s and women’s golf events can help the sportsbook reach both male and female audience. Based on data from MKTG’s 2021 DECODING study, Canadian female sports bettors are more likely to place wager on golf than other sports, which can help theScore Bet app reach higher product appeal to both genders.

When The Stars Align

To add a face to sports betting products that has a personal appeal with the audience, sportsbook operators have been collaborating with brand ambassadors that fit their marketing initiatives. In Canada, sportsbooks are partnering up with retired athletes who have immediate recognition to their sport and their athletic achievements to capture fans of the athlete and the sport. Often, their personality can humanize a sportsbook, lending a positive association that can increase brand affinity to engage with the public. 
When BET99 teamed up with Georges St-Pierre, the online sportsbook objective was to leverage St-Pierre’s sports achievements in mixed martial arts to convey that their sportsbook is a competitive betting platform that users can also achieve great returns on. The partnership doesn’t only appeal to MMA or UFC bettors but have also focused on marketing to the Francophone community, something that BET99 has done particularly better than other sportsbooks.   

Sportsbooks in the US betting market are also partnering with pro athletes currently active in individual playing sports; notably, Draft Kings’ partnership with Bryson DeChambeau and Fan Duel’s partnership with Jordan Spieth. This tactic is considered somewhat controversial as—unlike retired athletes—active athletes can be linked to insider trading on their performance predictions. However, both deals outlines that they are driven by marketing purposes only meaning that both golfers will not be sharing their gambling experiences or their playing odds to win tournaments. For DeChambeau, the DraftKings will have him produce data-based golf content and other sports. Spieth has become FanDuel’s face for their golf products and added golf content for the sportsbook’s social media. While this strategy may currently work for individual sports, team sports may continue to cause mixed reactions as a conflict of interest from sporting organizations in the broader public.

Betting Resources with Content Creators and Sports Broadcasters

Most sports bettors wouldn’t blindly place their money on a team or player without doing some research and reviewing data. The thrill of betting is that individuals can take calculated risks by going through various analytics that are trustworthy to provide them with the highest chance of winning. This is where partnerships with knowledgeable content creators and broadcasters can help communicate this to existing and new bettors.

To this end, ComeOn Sports headed into the podcast route; by partnering with former TSN anchor, Natasha Staniszewski, to provide weekly sports picks and bring on special guests in the Canadian sports world to share their insights.Marketers with brands that hope to cater to a younger audience maybe more likely to allocate higher media investments into the audio space as listeners have a median age of 34, younger than broadcasting radio (47) and network television (57).

But don’t write off Canadian sports broadcasting networks just yet – they are in the drawing room building out ways to provide exclusive sports betting content and finding the appropriate partners to connect with their audience. As the presenting partner of Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s show, Inside The Lines, Sports Interaction is able to attach themselves to one of Canada’s top sports radio stations along with three Sportsnet hosts and sports betting analysts – George Rusic, David Bastl, and Steven Rapp - as the face of the daily segment. This partnership allows the host to cross-collaborate their odds, picks, and promotional marketing initiatives on Sportsnet’s radio, and to Sports Interaction’s social media channels. In addition, Bastl also writes and contributes to the operator’s sports betting editorial section, SIA Insights, that produces daily sports betting previews and in-depth features to support users’ wager decisions. Ultimately, this partnership helps convey Sports Interaction as the one-stop shop for sports betting research and wagering products.      

Building Relations with Adult Recreational Leagues

Taking a different approach, some sportsbooks have bypassed professional sports altogether, and instead have met bettors in the locker rooms. theScore Bet recently introduced their partnership with Canadian recreational provider Canlan Sports to introduce their betting products across the country.  The partnership includes tournament title sponsorships for theScore Bet of Canlan’s adult rec hockey league (ASHL) tournaments, which boasts one of the world’s largest recreational hockey league player base of more than 65,000 players annually. These marketing assets allows theScore to be the top-of-mind sportsbook for adult sports fan and within recreational hockey which is ingrained to Canada’s passion and culture.

To bring a younger audience to try their sportsbook, BET99 teamed up with Canadian campus sport league and lifestyle community, LUG, to offer competitive betting games to university students and young professionals.  The league has over 10,000 students each year participating in several sports including eSports, Spikeball, and Softball. The sportsbooks integrated themselves by creating a Player of the Month program for a team to win $20 site credit on their online gaming platform every month. These incentives can encourage league members to feel out the sportsbook for free before committing to it and can influence their decision to continue to place bets.

As the New Year approaches, MKTG Canada is looking forward to seeing how sports betting operators will invest their sponsorship to further appeal their products to Canadians. The current landscape is competitive in Canada with existing and new operators working overtime to build positive associations with sports properties, retired athletes, content creators, and/or recreational league. By positioning themselves with sports partners that aligns to their brand objectives, it can lead to a big future payout with the targeted sports bettors, with curious gamblers, and with the overall sports audience.


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