- BetMGM has announced the signing of former US National Soccer team goaltender Tim Howard.
- Howard will be the public face of a $250,000 USD bracket challenge for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
- In addition to his run with the USMNT Howard played extensively in the English Premier League (EPL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar will begin on Sunday as the host team meets Ecuador in the traditional opening format. The action will seriously get underway on Monday with the start of Group B play with legit contenders England and Netherlands beginning play along with the USA. The World Cup is a massive betting event internationally and this time around will include the nascent US sports betting market. The American Gaming Association (AGA)–an organization with the credibility and integrity of the FTX crypto exchange balance sheet–suggests that $1.8 billion USD will be wagered at regulated US sportsbooks. That sounds a bit high, but it’ll no doubt be a major betting event in the US as in the rest of the world.
That means that the major North American bookmaking companies will be looking to capitalize on the popularity of the World Cup–as well as the unique scheduling that has it being played in November and December. If you guessed that will mean sportsbooks will be trotting out ‘brand ambassadors’ with a soccer connection, go to the head of the class. BetMGM loves their ‘brand ambassadors’ and unlike some of their competitors they’ve brought in celebrity promoters that aren’t completely pointless. Their most recent announcement has actually played in the World Cup–former US National Team goaltender Tim Howard.
According to the BetMGM press release, Howard will be the public face of a $250,000 USD World Cup bracket challenge as well as other free-to-play games, promotions and ‘other activations’. Add ‘activations’ to your North American sports betting buzzword list. Howard sounds like an old pro at giving press release quotes, even working in a bit of a pun involving the word ‘pitch’ (a common synonym for ‘soccer field’, particularly in Europe):
“America’s excitement for soccer is at a fever pitch and I can’t wait to take it to the next level with BetMGM, offering new ways for fans to get engaged in the game. BetMGM is at the forefront of the sports betting industry and I’m proud to be part of the team ahead of the greatest tournament in all of sports.”
At least I *think* it was a pun. ‘Fever pitch’ is otherwise something of an overstatement. In a typical World Cup cycle it takes place in the summer when soccer is an interesting diversion during the slowest sports months of the year. This year, they’ll be competing with….uh….every sport *except* baseball. It’s not easy to time the scheduling so they’ll be up against the NHL, NBA, NFL, college football and college hoops. At least horse racing is in the post Breeders’ Cup lull. Soccer is legitimately becoming more popular in the US, so it’ll get a sizable audience–and betting handle–but ‘fever pitch’ and ‘1.8 billion USD of betting handle’ is a bit hyperbolic.
In our next article, we’ll look at BetMGM’s plans for the World Cup and new spokesman Tim Howard.