The Big Game Gives Online Sportsbooks Another Big Opportunity for Customer Acquisition

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JMP Securities, an investment banking firm, is forecasting around $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in legal wagering on this year’s Super Bowl via retail and online sportsbooks.


Last Updated:
Jan 30, 2024 1:38 PM ET

Read Time: 3 min

If you’re wondering why you’re seeing a lot more Rob Gronkowski lately, don’t worry, it’s just that time of year again. 

The ongoing expansion of legal sports betting means this year’s Super Bowl will likely be one of the most wagered-upon championship games in the history of the National Football League — if not THE most wagered-upon. 

Furthermore, online sportsbooks will not let the opportunity pass without trying to sign up as many new bettors as possible, which means increased Gronk exposure and various other attempts to attract another wave of customers to wagering platforms.

“As San Francisco and Kansas City descend into Las Vegas, NV for the Super Bowl in less than two weeks, operators turn their focus to customer acquisition in the time leading up to the game,” said Jordan Bender, analyst at JMP Securities, in a note to clients on Monday. “Players acquired during this period are often not the highest quality, but the 500k downloads on Super Bowl Sunday last year represent 2x any other day during the year.”

Big game, big handle, big spend

JMP, an investment banking firm, is forecasting around $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in legal wagering on this year’s Super Bowl via retail and online sportsbooks. 

Those numbers reflect that this will be the first Super Bowl where online sports betting is legal in states such as Kentucky, Florida, and Massachusetts. That could attract another wave of bettors to licensed bookmakers in those states, as there are players who may make the Super Bowl their only wager of the year. 

There are also newer entrants into the online sports betting scene seeking to win market share from the incumbents. PENN Entertainment, the operator of ESPN BET, is expecting losses in its digital division to reach their high-water mark in and around the Super Bowl as it spends cash to acquire bettors.

“Because you’re going to be launching, you’ve got a lot of first-time deposit match promo dollars running through the system,” PENN CEO Jay Snowden said in November apropos of losses peaking between the fourth quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2024. “And you sort of capture not just NFL, but you’re going to capture NBA, you’re going to capture NHL. And then when you get into Q1, you’re going to capture college basketball, you’re going to have the college football championship and Super Bowl.” 

Viva Las Vegas

Another possible tailwind for operators is that this year’s Super Bowl may be the most gambling-friendly one in the history of the Big Game. It is, after all, happening in Las Vegas, the longtime capital of sports betting in the U.S. 

Fans flocking to Vegas may return home with a taste for legal sports betting. 

The record in Nevada for Super Bowl wagering is the $179.8 million bet for the 2022 matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams. Handle for the 2023 edition of the Big Game fell short of the record, attracting $153.2 million in wagering in Las Vegas and other parts of the state.

This time, though, the presence of a California-based team in the NFL championship game could bolster handle. So, too, could the presence of thousands of additional people in the city for the game and scene. 

“When you have the next-door neighbor [the 49ers] coming in for the Super Bowl and the game being in Las Vegas, it’s safe to expect records might be set handle-wise this year,” said Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, in a recent statement.

Michael Lawton, senior economic analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said in an email that the regulator does not have any projections yet for the Super Bowl.

“However,” he added, “I would assume with the matchup and the game being played in Las Vegas, the wagering activity on the game will be at record levels or higher.”

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