Six weeks after its initial UK launch, BetMGM has unveiled Chris Rock as its first overseas ambassador.
With a nod to the brand’s Vegas and Hollywood connections, the first ad spot features Rock sailing through the Bellagio Fountain to the River Thames in a gold speedboat—with a majestic, yet docile, lion in tow.
Over hip-hop-style horns, Rock, in his recognizable tone, delivers a short monologue:
We’re BetMGM, and we know how to put on a show. That means we don’t just get a boat. We get a gold boat with a lion in the Bellagio fountain! And we’re here in the UK to make every game an occasion with tools to help you play safe.
Get ready for the golden era in sports and casino. BetMGM—It’s Showtime!
BetMGM Leverages Vegas Heritage in UK Push
According to the release accompanying the ad, the campaign aims to drive awareness of BetMGM UK and its “golden” offers.
As part of the deal, Rock will share details and updates on boosts, bonuses, and one of the largest jackpots in the UK (£15.4 million or US $18,787,615). Rock will also promote BetMGM UK’s free-to-play Golden Goals, which pays £2 million (US $2,439,950) for six correct premier league scores and other exclusive BetMGM content.
BetMGM is “incredibly excited” to launch in the United Kingdom, said UK Director Sam Behar in the release.
In an email to Bonus, a company spokesperson added:
The newly launched advertising campaign starring Chris Rock travelling in a gold speedboat from the Bellagio Fountains to the Thames is all about bringing entertainment to the UK betting industry, and introducing a new golden era in sports and online casino. As a certified gold standard Hollywood icon, Chris Rock and this campaign clearly demonstrates BetMGM’s commitment to bringing a fresh and entertaining approach to the market.
It’s no surprise BetMGM chose to lean into its Americaness™ for its UK debut.
Importing its larger-than-life than life Vegas-vibe is likely the brand’s only chance of success in the UK’s mature market, said Bonus Managing News Editor Alex Weldon:
The UK has had legal betting for much longer than the US, so it’s not a fast-growing market or one that’s easy to penetrate for new brands. BetMGM will have a hard time either way, but they have little chance if they’re trying to blend in. Their best bet is to emphasize their connection to the US and Las Vegas and hope to find a niche of players who prefer that to a local brand. Choosing an American as their brand ambassador is a part of that.
BetMGM UK Launch Signals Shift in Entain Relationship
While the why of choosing an American ambassador makes sense, the reasoning for picking Rock over current US Ambassador Jamie Foxx may be unclear.
At 58 (Rock) and 55, the Hollywood stars likely appeal to a similar demographic.
But, while Rock is undoubtedly a familiar face to many in the UK, US-facing BetMGM has a long history with Foxx, who recently returned to spokesperson duties after being hospitalized with a mysterious illness.
However, the addition of Rock to BetMGM’s team of ambassadors has more to do with the companies behind the UK operation than anything else.
While MGM Resorts International partnered with Entain to power its US and Canadian business, BetMGM depends on its recently acquired Leo Vegas tech in the UK. Kambi provides BetMGM UK’s sportsbook capabilities.
BetMGM confirmed the joint venture with Entain is limited to North America and that MGM Resorts wholly owns the brand. Acquiring Leo Vegas Group’s technology allowed MGM to launch market-leading products anywhere. BetMGM UK is the first brand to launch using the new tech.
Certainly, it’s unlikely Entain, which owns Bwin, Ladbrokes, PartyPoker, and other UK-facing gambling brands, would want Foxx repping BetMGM (now a competitor) on UK soil.
When MGM Resorts launched BetMGM UK in August, an Entain spokesperson confirmed that MGM couldn’t use its platform outside North America.
Entain also showed little concern over BetMGM’s UK entry:
The UK market is a highly competitive, well-regulated market where many brands operate and where leadership is gained through brand familiarity and high quality, in-house technology.
Entain operates a well-known portfolio of respected brands as well as an established online and retail presence. We do not consider that this new launch will make any impact to our business or indeed the market.
In addition to the Rock-led hero campaign developed with London-based agency Recipe, BetMGM UK produced a responsible gambling ad dedicated to keeping play safe.