What brands should consider before they place their bets on sports gambling

Strategies to help you navigate the brave new world of legalized sports betting.

This week, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on sports betting, setting off a frenzy among leagues, teams, athletes, and gaming organizations attempting to make sense of what this means for them in the short and long terms. With the floodgates open and the "this is really happening" moment behind us, brands and sports sponsors have entered the conversation and are among the many who are trying to figure out how best to navigate this new reality.

There has been no precedent set in other parts of the world where we’ve seen betting abruptly introduced to such a mature sports market. The two have typically grown together, which makes it even more difficult for brands and marketers to properly assess the opportunity or weigh the risks in front of them. With that said, our team has been counseling clients to consider the following as they establish their position and consider how they might get in the game.

Know your audience
Marketplace testing, research, and learning is crucial. Without that footing, the margin for error drastically increases. Some questions to consider: where does your audience associate sports betting on a moral scale? Where might your competitors fall in this space? Sports betting just might not make sense for your audience - and that’s OK.

Align yourself with the right partners
As we saw it with daily fantasy, the competition amongst gambling providers will be fierce. The winners will be those who invest in mass awareness while delivering a great product and experience.

Be open to new forms of content born from this ruling
The rise of fantasy sports completely changed the way we consumed content, and we can expect this to spark the content evolution in the sports media world. Every game becomes meaningful and sports ratings will see uptick. Innovation in media and short-form based content will drive new revenues and sponsorship opportunities. Brands that are open to these new channels will benefit early.

Think outside of the bet
It’s not far-fetched to predict that this move will attract fans and non-fans into the stadiums for in-arena betting. Brands have a real opportunity to stand out leveraging the renewed interest in live events by creating world-class experiences for consumers. 

Be prepared for the ‘what ifs?’
This is unchartered territory for everyone involved. Don’t underestimate the value of a strong crisis plan and playbook.

Let the play develop
The space will seem chaotic as first with brands employing a wait-and-see approach. As various states determine how to proceed, brands that are early adopters should steal a page from the tech world and apply a test-and-learn strategy before pushing all of their chips to the middle of the table.

The net-net? As marketers, we’ve always known that fans and spectators are interested in much more than what happens on the field. Adding a way for them to be invested, both emotionally and now financially, in the outcome of a game will only create more opportunity for brands to have a role in gameday.

Ted Fragulis is SVP at Catalyst Public Relations, a division of Endeavor Global Marketing.

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