It was not that long ago here in the United States that the idea of professional sports teams partnering with casinos, sportsbooks or online betting sites would seem as likely as seeing a dog and cat dancing the Merengue together. Part of the reason was the Federal ban on sports wagering and of course the fear by the sports leagues that relationships with gaming houses would somehow taint their sport and cast a shady image on them. But wow, what a difference a Supreme Court ruling can make.
Though it was years in the making and purely a by-product of the nationwide acceptance of gaming as an everyday form of recreation that the pall and image of gambling being a back room, mob run shady operation was lifted. That lift of the social stigma fostered a change of image for gambling and probably as much as the facts of law inspired the Supreme Court to recognize and overturn the federal ban on sports wagering. While the Court’s ruling returned certain state’s rights of self-determination, it also helped tip national acceptance of wagering as a legitimate business and made it very possible for professional sports teams and gambling houses to engage in various types of marketing relationships.
Trail blazing those relationships in the United States was the Dallas Cowboys and the Winstar Casino in Oklahoma, which was almost immediately followed by announced deals between NHL teams and other betting operations. Though advertising deals and various event sponsorships had existed for years, we are now seeing the evolution of more prominent, long-term deals and are probably well on the way to emulating the type of co-marketing and advertising arrangements found in various Common Wealth and European countries.
Pause for a moment and think about any British soccer game you may have noticed on TV. You may recall, among all the traditional brand and marketing sponsors there was almost equal space given to casinos and online sports betting operations on jerseys and reader boards.
As we are immersed from almost all angles with advertising it is very practical to ask why pro sports teams and gaming companies would bother to partner up for marketing. After all, amid all the other messaging would not the gaming companies get lost in a crowd? Well, it depends on how well the team and gambling operation match each other’s demographics and how truly intertwined the relationship will be.
As a non-gaming example, Rolex sponsors a number of golf, sailing, tennis and equestrian events and usually requires all the publicly seen official time keeping has the Rolex name and logo prominently displayed on the clocks; and often their watches are also given to the winners as part of the prize. Rolexes are expensive and marketed to affluent people; affluent people play and follow tennis, golf, sailing and equestrian events (such as show jumping and high-end horse races) and it makes perfect sense for those events to partner with Rolex. For Rolex, they are subtly in front of their customers and re-enforce their brand image.
So too will the partnering of Winstar Casino of Oklahoma and the Dallas Cowboys enjoy certain subtle and overt benefits. Though the details of the deal have not been fully disclosed, they have announced certain Cowboys events will be held at Winstar. Winstar enjoys a great deal of patronage from Texas, which likely means their recognizable players will be at Winstar from time to time and the more that happens the more likely Winstar customers will rub elbows and get selfies. As that happens, it adds to the Winstar customer’s experience, adds to publicity events and passively as well as overtly enhances the buzz, popularity and stature of the casino, creating an advantage over competitors in attracting customer from certain Texas cities. Conversely if the Cowboys are paid or get free or deeply discounted prices for services they would otherwise pay for, they benefit as well while bonding further with parts of their fan base. A win-win benefit for both sides.
Good marketing partnerships result in the mutual uplifting of brand image and brand awareness that results in compelling customer behaviors, which, after all, is the sought for “Holy Grail” of marketing.