- Bally’s Corporation has acquired the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), the ‘premier beach volleyball organization in the United States’.
- Bally’s plans to incorporate sports betting content into beach volleyball competitions and use the league to promote customer acquisition.
- In the past year, Bally’s has been extremely active at making acquisitions to bolster their mobile sports betting operations.
In a very interesting move, Bally’s Corporation has announced the acquisition of the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP). The AVP bills itself as the ‘premier beach volleyball organization and host of the longest-running domestic beach volleyball tour in the United States’. Bally’s acquired all of the group’s assets and is hoping that as they increase the awareness and visibility of the league it’ll grow their brand recognition and boost customer acquisition.
It’s the latest salvo in what has become the hottest area of competition among sportsbooks in the US market–content creators. Granted, I didn’t expect a major US gaming corporation to announce they were getting into the beach volleyball business but there’s definitely a lot of different angles that Bally’s can work with the AVP. Earlier this year, Bally’s got into a competitive bidding battle for the World Poker Tour, the assets of which were at the time owned by Allied Esports International. They were ultimately unsuccessful in their effort and Element Partners LLC would end up buying the WPT. Ironically enough, the Element Partners LLC purchase of the World Poker Tour was completed on the same day that Bally’s announced their acquisition of AVP.
Here’s the relevant quotes from the Bally’s Corporation press release announcing the AVP purchase in which they give the broad strokes on what they plan to do with it:
Bally’s Corporation today announced that it has acquired the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP), the premier professional beach volleyball organization and host of the longest-running domestic beach volleyball tour in the United States. The acquisition represents the latest step in Bally’s ongoing omni-channel growth and diversification strategy, providing a significant opportunity for the Company to gamify and incorporate interactive content into beach volleyball, which, in turn, will drive traffic to Bally’s platforms and promote customer acquisition.
Under the terms of the transaction, Bally’s acquired all of AVP’s assets, including trademarks, AVP America promoter agreements and associated recurring membership revenue, digital photo and video assets, and all proprietary tournament and league management software. Bally’s plans to leverage AVP’s distribution channels, as well as the Sinclair-owned “Bally Sports” Regional Sports Networks (RSNs), to increase consumer engagement with, and awareness of, the league.
Translation–Bally’s is going to use the Bally Sports networks to increase the visibility of the AVP, at the same time giving them plenty of content. They’ll add a sports betting component to the AVP competitions, presumably including betting lines and related information in broadcasts. They’ll use their distribution channel to grow the visibility of the AVP and will use the AVP to drive eyeballs, build their brand and increase customer acquisition. At least that’s how I think it’ll work.
There’s another potential angle for Bally’s that might not be readily apparent. Keep in mind that an actual beach isn’t a prerequisite for ‘beach volleyball’. Case in point–only one of the upcoming three AVP events will take place at a legit beach (the Manhattan Beach Open). The other two are scheduled for Atlanta and Chicago, two cities not necessarily known for their beaches. Bally’s could hold future AVP events at some of their ‘brick and mortar’ gaming properties like Bally’s Atlantic City, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi or the recently purchased Tropicana Las Vegas. While beach volleyball might not have the same obvious demographic overlap with Bally’s core businesses as tournament poker would have the strategy they’re using for the AVP is likely very similar to what they had in mind for the WPT.
Here’s what Adi Dhandhania, Bally’s SVP Strategy and Interactive, said about the AVP acquisition:
“The AVP is an attractive asset that complements our rapidly expanding U.S. sports betting vision. Donald and the entire AVP team have done a tremendous job developing the league and transforming it into what it is today, and we look forward to exploring creative ways to amplify and gamify such a dynamic and high-growth sport, providing beach volleyball fans across the nation with unique and interactive content.”
Donald Sun, former owner and CEO of AVP, will stay on to assist with the transition. He’s excited about Bally’s involvement:
“Forming a new relationship with a trusted, forward-thinking partner like Bally’s offers the opportunity to develop a strategic roadmap that will grow the sport, expand its footprint and provide new resources to better elevate the game and its athletes. I look forward to being an integral part of the transition, focusing on the best interests of all AVP athletes, fans, staff and partners.”
This type of promotional synergy is nothing new–it’s an updated version of how Las Vegas casinos have used sports sponsorships for years. In the 1970s, the Showboat Hotel and Casino was synonymous with professional bowling. More recently, pro bowling events have been held at the Red Rock Resort and the South Point. As strange as it may seem now there was a time during the early 1980s that casinos were anxious to get in on the bowling action and a variety of Las Vegas properties hosted PBA events. Hunter S. Thompson famously attended the Mint 400 Motorcycle Race and although the namesake property was closed in the late 1980s the event itself lives on.