The race to increase the profile of legal sports betting companies in the exploding US market continues. The latest move came from BetMGM who, on Wednesday announced that they are bringing on one of the most iconic sports personalities in North America, NHL legend Wayne Gretzky as brand ambassador.
The multi-year deal seems to serve a pair of purposes. Firstly, to expand the exposure of a league that MGM Resorts currently serves as an official sports betting partner of and secondly to get ahead of the possibility of the legalization of sports betting in Gretzky’s native Canada.
“Wayne is an exceptional talent who transcends the sports world and we’re proud to welcome him to the BetMGM team,” BetMGM Chief Revenue Officer Matt Prevost said in a news release. “As we look toward potential expansion into Canada, and elsewhere throughout the United States, Wayne will bring a unique ability to tell our brand story.”
The Gretzky Factor
There is no more iconic name in hockey than Wayne Gretzky, widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the NHL. Known as “The Great One”, he currently owns 61 unique NHL records, many of which will never be touched.
He is currently the NHL’s all-time leader in total points with 2,857, goals and assists. He won the league’s Most Valuable Player Award a record nine times in his 21 NHL seasons.
It was just last week, following the Edmonton Oilers’ unceremonious departure from the Stanely Cup Playoffs that he resigned his post as vice chairman of the team. He was quickly picked up as an analyst for Turner Sports – a move that will only increase his personal exposure and ultimately aid BetMGM in building on their NHL investment.
The Canada Factor
BetMGM may see the Wayne Gretzky deal as a chance to get a jump on a Canadian legal sports betting market that has been marching toward legalization. Bill C-218 which would amend Canada’s criminal code and pave the way for legal sports betting in the country has officially passed its second reading and is gaining momentum each and every day.
Having Canada’s biggest sporting icon in their corner will certainly give BetMGM a huge leg up ahead of an impending period of sportsbook customer acquisition north of the border. The potential Canadian market is being looked upon by sportsbooks as an exciting and potentially lucrative new opportunity.
“BetMGM is a terrific company and one at the forefront of the dynamic changes taking place in the sports business,” Gretzky stated in a news release on Wednesday. “I’m excited to be a part of the company’s continued expansion into new states and territories and to help tell BetMGM’s story.”
The Brand Ambassador Trend
Sportsbooks are being forced into getting creative with regard to exposure and customer acquisition within the exploding US legal sports betting space. BetMGM already has similar deals in place with Jamie Foxx, Barry Sanders, Jalen Rose and golfers Max Homa, Jason Kokrak, Harry Higgs, Kevin Na and Pat Perez.
You would be hard-pressed to not see a commercial for a sportsbook during any sports broadcast these days and brand ambassadors are designed to become the face of betting providers on a variety of media platforms – print, TV and social media.
As the mainstreaming of the legal sports betting industry continues, so too will the list of celebrities lining up to represent wagering brands. Brand ambassador deals are in relative infancy but could realistically pick up a ton of speed as more markets open up and the subject of legal sports betting becomes baked into the fabric of sports fans overall experience.