Super Bowl 2023 is a special one for the Canadian market. It marks the first edition of the biggest sporting event in North America in which people in Ontario can legally bet on the Big Game with regulated private operators.
There has been plenty of work going on behind the scenes at sportsbooks across the province to take advantage of the Super Bowl as a race will be on to attract new users on an event set to be a record breaker.
RGC data recently found that 49% of Ontarians who bet on sports are planning to place a wager on the game, with 19% of those planning to bet $100 or more.
But in Ontario, where marketing practices have come under the spotlight more and more in recent weeks following the Fifth Estate inquisition into sportsbook practices, posing questions about marketing activities.
So, to help understand how sportsbooks are approaching the Super Bowl, Canadian Gaming Business caught up with Aubrey Levy, Head of Marketing at theScore Bet, to see how the Toronto-based company is advertising ahead of Super Bowl 57.
Taking the temperature of Super Bowl fever
Levy set out his stall by noting there is ample excitement in Ontario from a bettors perspective going into this weekend’s game, given they can legally wager on the event for the first time.
He explained: “There’s tremendous excitement from the Ontario market going into it. It’s the marquee sporting event of the year and the first Super Bowl for the regulated Ontario market. So generally speaking, we tend to believe media attention and excitement within sports lead to gaming attention and excitement.
“If that holds true, I would expect Super Bowl is going to be a pretty big weekend for both media consumption and gaming.”
Like any major sporting event, the Super Bowl evokes big competition between operators which are aiming to take advantage of the sporting excitement.
Twinned with the fact it is the first Super Bowl post-Ontario launch, theScore is working tirelessly on ‘plans, contingencies and support’ to ensure a successful weekend – not just in marketing, but risk, trading and ops, too.
But, of course, hockey rules in Canada, so CGB asked Levy where the big game sits in the hierarchy of the sporting calendar.
“Hockey, obviously, is huge in a way that it just isn’t in the US but NFL is still dominant in Canada,” Levy noted. “It’s still massive. Super Bowl 57 will without question be a massive event this year, and I expect it on an ongoing basis.
“We see this in our media business NFL has a huge demand. So the Super Bowl is not a little sister event to the Stanley Cup. The Super Bowl is a monster event in and of itself.”
Marketing operations and leveraging media
theScore’s core competence is its multi-purpose app which combines sports media and sports betting in one location, so naturally this takes center stage in the PENN Entertainment brand’s marketing strategy.
Encompassing media consumption and betting engagement is essential for theScore Bet to help it attract new users, and Levy explained how this competence is being communicated to players.
“The tagline for the media side is ‘The Big Game Starts Here’ and that largely ties back to the fact that we’ve been servicing the big game, not just as a gaming operator, but as a media organization for years and years,” he said. “We know how to give a great game day and leading up to game week experience for media, for our sports media fans.
“It’s everything from a deep well of original content and reporting, we have guys literally on the ground in Arizona, covering the event all week long, which supports our in-app editorial strategy or social strategy, we’re going to have a host of betting content rolling out around it. We’re going to be explaining a lot of the wagering markets that we have available. So it’s, going to be a kind of full breadth of editorial and multimedia content to satiate you first as a sports fan.”
The firm has rolled out a wide variety of custom betting markets including lines and game props for individual drives, each quarter and half, and an array of player props, many of which can be combined into one wager through the Parlay+ same game parlay feature.
Levy noted that providing betting options provides something for everyone. “We’ll bring in a lot of both experienced betting behavior and a lot of new betters to feel like you have something for everybody that is important. That means a ton of specials and deep in-play markets. There’s a ton of storylines to cover so we have over 400 markets available.”
With such a wide array of betting options, the firm aims to offer a breadth of personalized options in an attempt to offer ‘something for everyone’.
It aims to leverage the experience it has from its media division to transfer that approach to its betting offering.
For such a big event like the Super Bowl, this is as important as ever, as Levy explained: “Part of what makes our media products as strong as it feels highly personalized to you. There’s so much information that you can come in and have a really personal experience, which is the same as how we’re covering this game.
“We have content and guides out for casuals, new users, like betting one on one guides for the Super Bowl, and we’re gonna have really deep coverage and analysis and original reporting.”
Ontario macro trends
Another strand of theScore’s Super Bowl marketing is a ‘Betting 101’ guide, aiming to educate less experienced bettors on the game itself and the different times of bets available.
This is a very important strand of the firm’s marketing output, but with the Ontario market now approaching one year old, theScore’s advertising lead explained that overall, bettors in the province are becoming smarter.
He detailed: “Ontario is an educated market, relatively speaking to other new markets, and is pretty sophisticated. A lot of users are already aware and familiar and have long-standing betting histories.
“That still doesn’t mean there’s not a whole whack of new users who are new to the market, who are now seeing a lot of this regulated gaming taking place, and who feel a lot more safe and secure and willing to participate.
“I think Ontario’s is a really interesting market in that you have this incredibly educated, sophisticated betting audience, and you still have new users introduced into this industry every day.”
As outlined earlier, Ontario’s marketing standards have come under fire in recent weeks after The Fifth Estate aired a program investigating problem gambling and operators’ adverts across the province.
However, the AGCO standards on advertising are well-known as strict, with limits and restrictions in place on what can be said about offers and inducements.
For Levy, though, this is not detrimental to theScore’s marketing strategy, as it wants to place emphasis on its product, rather than spending frivolously to acquire new users.
On marketing limitations, he noted: “I’ve always had this perspective, even in states where you could offer inducements publicly. Effective marketing for sports betting has to be beyond how much of a financial incentive you’re giving people.
“I think that plays in our favor because it’s never been our strategy to be the loudest and most aggressive marketers shouting at the top of our lungs about signup offers and the biggest promotion, and taking them running it across television.”
Instead, the firm aims to place the value of its product and experience front and center of its marketing material, such as the previously mentioned betting guides and media integration.
Levy concluded: “I think as we have hopefully proven out throughout our first year in Ontario, the brand and how we talked our users and how we cover events, is going to bring you if you can do that, well, you should be able to attract an audience without just having to throw financial incentives in their face.”
“Marketing should be bigger than just here’s my promotion and slapping that on a billboard. How does that differentiate my sports book offering versus yours versus anybody else’s? Then we’re just in a race to the bottom of who’s going to shout the loudest with the biggest offer.”