Sports Books Signing Endorsement Deals At a Dizzying Pace

Sports Books Prepare For Ontario Marketplace By Signing Canadian Celebrities

   With the first of a wave of private licences expected to be issued in Ontario any week now, operators like FanDuel, DraftKings, and PointsBet are stockpiling celebrity endorsements at a dizzying pace.

   With a market set to range from teenagers to retirees, brands are inking deals with a diverse array of Canadian influencers. Everyone from household names like Georges St.-Pierre to entire leagues like the CFL are keen to get in on the action.

   PointsBet, an Australian sportsbook, is hoping to tap into some Canadian-a by inking deals with The Trailer Park Boys, and NHL Alumni Association in recent weeks. “The thing that Canadians love more than anything else is other Canadians,” said Nic Sulsky, chief commercial officer at PointsBet Canada. “We’re really dedicated to creating a brand that speaks with a genuine Canadian voice.”

   Not to be outdone, BetMGM recently signed Wayne Gretzky to a multi-year partnership for their US market. While Gretzky is well known in hockey circles Stateside, he’s essentially Canadian royalty up north. As such, the deal will likely pay dividends down the road for the company as the Northern marketplace takes shape.

   Catering to a decidedly younger crowd, other sportsbooks are banking on social media influencers to help them capture market share in the province. Everyone from TikTok stars, to YouTube creators are expected to be heavily recruited in the coming months. 

   So what’s all the fuss about? Studies have shown that in emerging sports betting markets, being first out of the gate isn’t critical but it certainly helps. Generating a large user base in the first few months is also a surefire way to keep shareholders happy. The data shows that it’s far easier to acquire a new uncommitted user than it is to try to get a user to switch platforms midstream.

   But more importantly is the sheer untapped potential of Ontario as a virgin marketplace. Conservative figures put the low end of gross revenue from the province’s online gambling market in year one at $989M. By 2026 however the number will be closer to $1.86B annually. 

   With so much money at stake, it’s no wonder why everyone from Phil Esposito, to Letterkenny actors, and Instagram influencers are being gobbled up. Large scale American operators have blueprints in place from their experiences in the States. They know what works and which marketing campaigns yield few results. Their multi-pronged approach will be no different in Canada when the time comes than it is south of the border.

   Whether it’s your mobile device, computer, TV, or favourite podcast, sportsbook ads are coming, and soon. While no firm timelines have been set for the granting of licences, Sulsky stated he believes they’ll be able to begin taking wagers as early as March.

Written by Kyle Skinner, our Canada Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can read more about our author's expertise here.

The featured image for this post was sourced on Wikimedia Commons and can be found here.