Whenever NBC displayed betting odds for Sunday night’s NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, it showed a different package of graphics than it had the week before. Instead of odds coming courtesy of PointsBet, they were supplied by BetMGM.
Most viewers might not even have noticed the fine print, but for a major network to change a gambling partnership in mid-season is unusual and raises questions about PointsBet’s strategy in North America.
According to Bill King of the Sports Business Journal, the switch — which he reported just minutes before kickoff — was due to PointsBet no longer being an authorized sportsbook operator for the NFL. Only authorized operators can buy sports betting ads during games or related shows or provide content for those broadcasts. WynnBET also has dropped out as an authorized operator for the NFL, leaving BetMGM and FOX Bet.
BetMGM strengthens its NFL presence
The move could strengthen BetMGM as an asset for its parent company, MGM Resorts International. More than 43% of MGM Rewards sign-ups were from BetMGM in the second quarter, according to CEO Bill Hornbuckle on a recent earnings call. A heightened profile from being featured on a national broadcast could bump those numbers up.
It also increases the company’s engagement with NFL fans, the most lucrative segment of the sports betting market in the country. BetMGM recently announced a partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs to be official sports betting partner and also opened a retail sportsbook near the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium in Glendale. In addition, BetMGM extended its agreement to be an official sportsbook partner of NFL Canada.
Signals shift for PointsBet’s strategy
PointsBet signed a five-year marketing agreement with NBC Universal in 2020, which included almost $400 million in marketing spend. NBC Universal also received a 4.9% stake in PointsBet, an Australian-based operator. According to King, the remainder of the marketing spend will be used for ads on local NBC stations, regional sports networks, and digital platforms.
PointsBet seems to be narrowing its focus, with an eye toward profitability and the maximization of its current customer base rather than on marketing spend and sign-up promotions for new customers, something other operators have also been doing as the U.S. sports betting market matures in some states. PointsBet operates in 12 states, the latest being Kansas, and will begin operating in Ohio and Maryland in coming months.