Vanna White, ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Co-Host, Breaks iGaming Ground With BetMGM

Vanna White began turning letters more than 40 years ago on the “Wheel of Fortune” game show. As of April 17, her newest job is to turn online gamblers into fans of the Wheel of Fortune Online Casino. That’s when BetMGM announced White would become the face of the ad campaign for its newest online casino, which is already taking bets in New Jersey.

Bonus requested more information yesterday from BetMGM about why the brand chose White. However, a spokeswoman declined to comment on those queries today.

The questions from Bonus included:

  • Did BetMGM pick White as its celebrity influencer over her co-host, Pat Sajak, because online slots are more popular with women than men?
  • Was White, 66, the clear choice because she’s synonymous with the game show born in 1975?

In yesterday’s press release, BetMGM CRO Matt Prevost did mention White’s status as a synonym but didn’t say why the brand chose her over Sajak.

Indeed, picking Sajak, 76, would fit with the current trends of mostly male, older celebrity influencers who are employed by online gambling operators. However, doing so might’ve been as tone-deaf as using a male voiceover actor in online casino commercials targeting women.

Plus, Sajak is pretty controversial right now. For quite a few reasons.

Meanwhile, Katie Kohler, an iGaming communications manager with BetMGM, wrote on LinkedIn yesterday about White’s role with Wheel of Fortune Online Casino, “the first brand-led online casino in North America.”

Kohler said:

White will star in omnichannel advertisements promoting Wheel of Fortune Online Casino and will also appear in additional marketing materials supporting the mobile app.

On March 8, BetMGM announced its new offering.

Kohler told Bonus today:

The Wheel of Fortune game is still new, but so far reception has been great.

Today, Bonus found Wheel of Fortune Online Casino featured seven America’s Game-branded slot titles:

  • Wheel of Fortune on Tour
  • Wheel of Fortune on the Road
  • Wheel of Fortune Megaways
  • Wheel of Fortune Ruby Riches
  • Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin
  • Wheel of Fortune Winning Words Game
  • Wheel of Fortune Hawaiian Getaway

The new online casino also includes jackpot slots, table games, and several other categories of games.

This launch of Wheel of Fortune Online Casino may help BetMGM cement its historic lead as the No. 1 US online casino. The joint partnership between MGM Resorts International (MGM Resorts International 41,36 +0,80%) and Entain (Entain PLC 745,80 +3,30%) holds a 28% market share, as of Q1 2023.

Meanwhile, White may need to be absent from Ontario marketing materials. Legal Sports Report, a Catena Media publication like Bonus, says the province’s iGaming regulator is considering banning “celebrities and athletes in advertising” and is accepting comments on the topic until May 8.

Vanna White May Build on Retail Slots Success

BetMGM Casino included “Wheel of Fortune” slots before the brand launched Wheel of Fortune Online Casino.

When BetMGM announced Wheel of Fortune Triple Extreme Spin on Oct. 13, 2022, the press release included existing slots with the game show’s theme – such as Wheel of Fortune on Tour. Now it houses 10.

In 2014, DoubleDown Casino debuted International Game Technology (IGT) Wheel of Fortune social slots. However, in August 2022, IGT and DoubleDown Interactive agreed to settle a class action lawsuit about the social casinos for $415 million.

Regardless, retail slot machines bearing “Wheel of Fortune” branding may be the top mental images for many gamblers.

That’s because, in 1996, IGT and Sony Pictures Television teamed up to build Wheel of Fortune Slots games.

In the March 8 announcement about Wheel of Fortune Online Casino, an IGT leader referenced those physical slots.

Enrico Drago, IGT’s digital and betting CEO, said:

IGT’s Wheel of Fortune slots have been entertaining players for decades as the most successful slot theme of all time.

Interestingly, for the land-based game’s 25th anniversary in 2021, IGT provided customer-facing metrics to demonstrate its success:

  • Wheel of Fortune Slots has minted more than 1,100 millionaires
  • Wheel of Fortune Slots has awarded more than $3.3 billion in jackpot prizes
  • IGT has developed more than 250 versions of Wheel of Fortune Slots
  • Wheel of Fortune Slots awarded a record-setting $14.4 million jackpot in 2009 to a lucky player in Biloxi, Miss.

That 2021 press release from IGT also revealed possible reason BetMGM chose White for the ad campaign.

The announcement includes this paragraph:

‘It has always been an honor to work side-by-side with the talented team at IGT in developing content for its many Wheel of Fortune Slots games,’ said Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune Hostess and Entertainment Icon. ‘When walking through casinos, I still marvel in the brilliance of the many Wheel of Fortune games and the excitement that the familiar siren of “WHEEL-OF-FORTUNE!” creates.’

The capitalization and exclamation point in the quote are written as IGT published them. They’re used to differentiate Wheel of Fortune Slots from the televised game show’s branding.

About the Author

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is Lead Writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She specializes in breaking news, legislative coverage, and gambling marketing strategy overviews. To reach Heather with a news tip, email [email protected].
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