BetMGM has reportedly partnered with X (formerly Twitter) to deliver sports betting stats to the social media platform, in what would be a first for the gambling industry. According to Fortune, the deal will include X adding a new feature allowing users to see live betting odds and a direct link to BetMGM Sportsbook to place bets.
The partnership news comes just weeks before this year’s Super Bowl, invariably the busiest day of the year for sports betting in the US. Exposure to millions of X users could significantly extend BetMGM’s reach. Though in tight contention with DraftKings for total online gambling revenue, BetMGM trails that brand and FanDuel in the sports betting vertical.
Engagement during live events like the Super Bowl is a strong point for X, as users flock to the platform to share their reactions. The record for the Super Bowl came in 2015, with 28.4 million tweets during the game. International sporting events draw even greater engagement, with 670 million tweets about the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the final and one of the two semi-finals each generating over 30 million tweets. While soccer is not as popular as the NFL in the US, its popularity is steadily growing on US betting apps.
As for X, it could certainly benefit from BetMGM’s marketing dollars. The platform has struggled since controversial engineering mogul Elon Musk took over in 2022. According to multiple reports, ad revenue, which is X’s primary form of monetization, dropped significantly in 2023. Musk’s personal politics and loosening of the platform’s moderation policies have caused many left-leaning users to abandon X while alienating certain advertisers.
There have been issues with the platform’s performance as well. During last year’s Super Bowl, X crashed at halftime and experienced another outage before the game. Musk has said he wants to diversify X’s income stream, and partnering with BetMGM may be part of that goal.
No details of the deal are currently available—for instance, what it’s worth to X or when it will commence.
Social Media Platforms Have Been Tentative About Gambling
By building a direct funnel to a sports betting platform on its website, X will be taking a chance its competitors have tended to shy away from. Many have loosened their policies in the years since the regulated sports betting boom. But none have embraced gambling in the way it looks as if X will.
Meta Platforms—the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—has strict rules requiring gambling companies to obtain written permission from the platforms before they can advertise. Additionally, gambling companies must provide the specific URL they intend to advertise and their target geographical location.
Google has similar policies and requires advertisers to obtain a certificate from the company. In addition, Google has other restrictions and specific rules for gambling ads. Meanwhile, Netflix does not allow gambling ads at all, nor does Apple.
Streaming platform Twitch changed its policies in 2022 to limit gambling streaming on its site. At the time, slot streaming was the seventh most viewed category. The changes didn’t affect legal online sports betting sites and casinos but illegal offshore sites like Stake.com and social casinos. That resulted in viewership decreasing. Also, the changes resulted in some popular Twitch streamers jumping ship to competitor Kick, owned by Stake.com founders.
Going back to X, one thing that Must has made clear since taking over is that he wants to do things differently. Embracing gambling at the brand level is certainly different. It may help that X is already positioned as more of an adult platform than other comparable sites.
Almost 40 states have legalized sports betting, either in person or online, and several others, like Georgia, are working towards that. The view of sports betting is shifting, too. According to a Harris Poll, 63% of US adults have a favorable opinion of sports betting, and one in four have placed a bet (including with friends) on the Super Bowl.
Deal Comes Amid Gambling-Related Lawsuits Targeting Tech Companies
The partnership between X and BetMGM isn’t without its risks. It comes at a time when several other large tech companies are facing gambling-related litigation. Several of these suits stem from the companies’ facilitation of transactions for social casino apps.
Apple, Google, and Meta are facing a lawsuit connected with free slots and social casino apps offered on their platforms. The plaintiffs argue that the defendants violate state consumer protection laws by facilitating in-app purchases. While they’re not involved with the apps, the tech companies are accused that their involvement as a “bookie” is illegal.
Another tech giant, Amazon, also faces accusations of involvement with illegal gambling. The class-action lawsuit says the company earned billions through its distribution of sweepstakes casino apps and facilitation of virtual chip sales, which amounts to “racketeering.” The complaint relies on a 2018 ruling in Washington State that states social casinos are illegal.
Unlike the social casinos, BetMGM is a regulated gambling product. On the one hand, that should keep X safe from any accusations of illegal gambling. On the other, it subjects all BetMGM-related content to a patchwork of regulations that vary from state to state. Whatever form the partnership takes, X will need to tread carefully to ensure it isn’t violating any state rules. Doing so could subject it or BetMGM to fines or other enforcement action.