Mar 2, 2021 - Economy & Business

Casinos throw cash at sports betting media

a football with headphones over it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Casinos are investing millions on sports betting content to lure bettors to their online and in-person sportsbooks.

Why it matters: It’s a mini gold rush for some sports media companies that were struggling in the pandemic.

  • Amid the pandemic, audio has become a strong tool to engage consumers.
  • "The difference in audio and video is audio can live with you in a lot of different spaces as a consumer," says J.D. Crowley, the chief digital officer at audio giant Entercom.

Driving the news: Wynn Resorts is the latest casino to invest in sports content, spending $3.5 million to build a dedicated studio at its Las Vegas resort in conjunction with sports podcast company Blue Wire.

How it works: Media companies make money by referring customers to sportsbooks, Axios sports editor Kendall Baker and I write.

  • Wynn Resorts' deal with Blue Wire is meant to help lure potential sports betters to the casino's online betting arm WynnBET. Blue Wire focuses on long-form sports narrative and conversational podcasts.
  • ESPN's sports betting analyst Doug Kezirian relocated to Las Vegas to host "Daily Wager" from ESPN’s new studio at The LINQ Hotel + Experience. Kezirian also hosts ESPN's "Behind the Bets" podcast from the venue.
  • VSIN, a sports betting network that produces audio and video content from its studios inside five U.S. sportsbooks, struck a deal last year to produce content at "the world's largest sportsbook" at Circa in Las Vegas.
  • Entercom launched a six-year audio partnership with FanDuel last year to co-produce audio betting content. The radio giant acquired the QL Gaming Group for $32 million last year, which includes the sports betting app BetQL.
  • Action Network, a subscription sports betting media company, works with several sportsbooks, many of whom sponsor its video and podcast products.

Media companies with their own branded sportsbooks, like Fox Bet and Yahoo Sports, use content integrations to keep fans hooked.

  • Penn National, a casino operator, kicked off this trend by investing $163 million in Barstool Sports last year.
  • Barstool produces hours of daily betting-centric audio and video. In 2020, the company launched its own branded sportsbook which Penn National says will be live in at least 10 states by year's end.

Be smart: "You're seeing a real lane for sport gaming-related content but it's not just transactional content, such as how lines are moving or what sides to take. Rather, it's entertainment content that revolves around personalities," says Crowley.

The bottom line: "It's a land grab for operators to acquire customers as more states go legal," says Action Network CEO Patrick Keane.

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