For a third straight year, DraftKings is spending big on Super Bowl ads. Prices for a 30-second slot during the big game have gone up again this year to about $7 million. To get the most out of its investment, the online gambling operator is betting big on viewers’ love for celebrities, including comedian Kevin Hart. Hart also features in Hart-Race Hold’em, a new game the company recently added to its online casino.
In a star-filled ad, viewers will see Hart interacting with the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith, MLB star David “Big Papi” Ortiz, rapper Ludacris, skater Tony Hawk, and others. Hart promotes DraftKings’ latest promotion in a game of words that showcases his high-energy persona.
DraftKings has also teamed up with brewer Molson Coors to create a unique marketing strategy. Beer ads tend to be in heavy rotation during the Super Bowl. They’ve also produced some of the more memorable spots over the years. Who’s old enough to remember 1995’s Budweiser Frogs? The Molson Coors-DraftsKings team-up will allow fans to bet on the details of a Molson Coors ad that will run during the second half of the game.
DraftKings paid out over $175 million in bets on last year’s Super Bowl. Many expect that Super Bowl LVII will surpass that. Catena Media’s Lead Analyst, Eric Ramsey, who projects $1.1 billion in total betting at regulated sportsbooks, agrees that DraftKings should see more betting activity. However, he cautions that payouts – or operator revenue – depend on bet outcomes and are impossible to predict.
(Catena Media owns both Bonus and PlayUSA, where that estimate was published.)
Sportsbooks Partner With Celebrities To Reach Wider Audience
Heavy marketing investments have been a driver of DraftKings’ revenue growth, alongside the continuous expansion of legal sports betting across the U.S.
Kevin Hart is becoming a familiar face for online gamblers. He’s teamed up with DraftKings for multiple promotions already and previously served as an ambassador for PokerStars and Partypoker.
Outside of Super Bowl advertising, Hart is primarily involved with the DraftKings Casino vertical. In its quest for brand differentiation, DraftKings Casino recently developed original games featuring Hart and fellow comedian Andrew Dice Clay. Players can play a form of online poker against Kevin Hart or shoot craps with Clay serving as the dealer.
DraftKings’s top rival FanDuel has also teamed up with a celebrity for this year’s Super Bowl. It plans to award $10 million in free bets for a promotion called the Kick of Destiny. It will feature Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (formerly of the New England Patriots) attempting to kick a field goal.
Many other sportsbooks have teamed up with celebrities to attract new customers. Aside from sports stars, stand-up comedians appear to be a popular choice. Caesars Sportsbook is another operator to have teamed up with such a comedian, J.B. Smoove. On the sports side of things, Caesars’ Super Bowl ad last year featured the Manning family. It’s unknown whether they will return this year.
Other notable comedian or actor partnerships include BetMGM Sportsbook with Jamie Foxx and TheScore with John Lovitz.
Super Bowl: a Critical Moment for Online Gambling Operators
Ramsey’s $1.1 billion estimate covers only traditional sports bets in the regulated U.S. market. The American Gaming Association (AGA) provides a much larger estimate, covering all forms of wagering, including illegal offshore bets, informal office pools, etc.
By the AGA’s reckoning, 50.4 million, or 20% of U.S. adults, will bet on Super Bowl LVII in some fashion, with a total of 16 billion on the line. That would be a 61% increase in bettors and more than double the amount of wagering the organization projected last year. 34% of NFL fans responding to the AGA’s survey said that access to legal sports betting has made the game more exciting for them.
(Editor’s note: The AGA’s estimate for betting outside the regulated market is based on an online survey and should be taken with a grain of salt. However, its estimate for conventional betting with regulated operators is only slightly higher than Ramsey’s.)
GeoComply, which provides geolocation services to the industry, also reports a rising activity level. The company processed about 550 million location checks during this year’s playoffs, up 50% from 2022. Last year, GeoComply processed 80 million such checks during the Super Bowl, a 226% increase from 2021.
In part, that’s because the market itself has expanded. Since the last Super Bowl, Kansas, Maryland, and Ohio have launched online sports betting. About 44% of the U.S. population now has access to legal sports betting. Ohio alone is expected to provide a substantial boost Super Bowl LVII. Having launched just over a month ago on Jan 1, it quickly established itself among the top U.S. markets, with 11 million bets over the first two days.