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Buffalo Wild Wings And BetMGM Announce Sports Betting Partnership

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • BetMGM and Buffalo Wild Wings have announced a partnership for an ‘exclusive sports betting experience’.
  • Geolocation will create a ‘custom experience’ when the BetMGM app is used in a Buffalo Wild Wings location.
  • Players will enjoy ‘custom promotions and bet types’ exclusive to Buffalo Wild Wings.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings and BetMGM initially announced a partnership in September 2019.

At the time of their original partnership announcement in September 2019 no one thought much of the collaboration between BetMGM and Buffalo Wild Wings. Buffalo Wild Wings had expressed interest in getting on the sports betting gravy train before that–not long after PASPA was struck down by the US Supreme Court they were among the first businesses of any type to publicly commit. Here’s what a Buffalo Wild Wings spokesperson said in August 2018:

“As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests.”

In light of that declaration, most dismissed the September 2019 announcement of a ‘landmark sports gambling partnership’ with BetMGM as a hyperbolic way to describe a garden variety co-promotional relationship. After all, BetMGM–the sports betting and interactive gaming division of MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM)– has inked this type of deal with a wide range of businesses from pro sports teams and leagues, streaming networks like DAZN and other businesses such as Topgolf. It made sense from that perspective but ‘landmark’?

The BetMGM/Buffalo Wild Wings mashup got a lot more interesting late last week with a press release announcing what is described as a ‘unique sports betting experience’ when placing bets hit the wires. In what they described as ‘a first in the industry’ (and on this scale it definitely is) players that wager on their BetMGM app inside a Buffalo Wild Wings location get access to ‘custom promotions and bet types’. They’ve already got the geolocation technology to make sure that bets are placed only within approved jurisdictions so it’s a clever way to repurpose this capability.

The plot thickens with this description of the collaboration from Rita Patel, Chief Marketing Officer, Buffalo Wild Wings, which suggests that bettors will have access to more favorable odds on ‘select bets’ if they munch on some wings during the wagering process:

“Fans wagering on sports inside Buffalo Wild Wings can now win bigger on select bets thanks to our innovative partnership with BetMGM. As sports betting continues to grow throughout the country, we look forward to further expanding our footprint in the space and activating our partnership with BetMGM in ways that make the experience at our sports bars second to none.”

Matt Prevost, Chief Revenue Officer, BetMGM, added some more context and boasted of the ‘incredible innovation’ of the partnership:

“Our partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings is incredibly innovative and allows BetMGM to redefine how fans enjoy sports. The introduction of geolocation technology to offer bettors a customized experience in a Buffalo Wild Wings location is a great example of what we’re able to activate through this groundbreaking relationship.”

But wait–there’s more. Buffalo Wild Wings has launched an in-store channel called OT Odds Powered by BetMGMfrom the description it sounds like it’ll air more or less nationwide:

Buffalo Wild Wings has also launched an in-bar channel called OT Odds Powered by BetMGM. The network will air on select screens throughout participating sports bars nationwide and will deliver sports betting content such as live game odds as well as fantasy and betting advice. In states where mobile sports betting is legal, curated boosts, bets, and parlays in the form of a new and exclusive Blazin’ Bets offered within the BetMGM app are now available through a customer’s personal device.

In addition, Buffalo Wild Wings’ Picks and Props free to play game–available inside the company’s mobile app–has been upgraded with a parlay style gameplay and ‘new BetMGM elements’. Major prizes are in the offing and select winners will ‘be inducted into the newly created BWW Hall of Fame’ which I’m sure will be a once in a lifetime honor.

So here’s what the games component of the app looks like. I’m in South Carolina at the moment so obviously I won’t have access to the ‘BetMGM’ promotions. In fact, the app helpfully explains that while I’m in a backwards state like South Carolina I’m screwed from that standpoint:

The BetMGM promotions screen in the Buffalo Wild Wings app.

The ‘stay tuned for updates in your state’ part is brilliant. Interesting that Nevada isn’t on the list of approved states–I’m not sure why. I can’t imagine that this type of promotion would be illegal there. Sports betting and gaming promotions have been going on in restaurants and bars since the beginning of time. I’ll check into this and report back. On a macro level, this doesn’t look much different than the relationship that William Hill has with the ubiquitous PT’s Pub chain in Nevada that allows you to fund your wagering account there. Then again, the ignorance of Nevada gaming regulators knows no bounds when it comes to keeping the Silver State sportsbooks non-competitive against the offerings in other states like, say New Jersey and Colorado.

This screen is the home page for the ‘free to play’ games. Since I’m writing this in the middle of the night there’s nothing on the board at the moment:

The free to play parlay game screen in the Buffalo Wild Wings app complete with BetMGM branding.

Even in states where they don’t have a mobile or retail betting presence BetMGM gets a nice branding opportunity. They also get to compile a mailing list that they can use to their advantage in a number of ways. How effective is this? According to the press release ‘more than 500,000 users have participated in Buffalo Wild Wings/BetMGM free to play games. Every one of them gave up not only a verified email address but a phone number–your BWW account is tied to your phone number. I can’t imagine BetMGM would be dumb enough to involve themselves in old fashioned telemarketing but I’m almost certain they’ve got a way to leverage these numbers for texting campaigns of one type or another. There’s nothing more obtrusive than an unsolicited spam text message. A text from a company that you’ve got a relationship with is another thing entirely. I just bought a suitcase from Timbuk2 because they texted me to let me know they were on sale. Typically, if I like the company I have no problem opting in for text messages. Not sure what the numbers are on this industrywide but I have to think that people are getting more comfortable with it.

The trivia game screen in the BWW app. And there’s the BetMGM branding again.

Finally, we’ve got the page for poor saps like me (at the moment) that are in states without sports betting. I enjoy a good sports trivia game as much as the next red blooded American male but if I know that chicken wing aficionados in other states have access to free to play parlay games and even actual sports betting trivia just doesn’t sound as fun anymore.

I’m of the opinion that in the long term this type of state to state ‘peer pressure’ will result in significant improvement of sports betting rights nationwide. If I’m in a backwards state like South Carolina or Alabama, or in a state with horrible sports betting like Oregon or Tennessee I’m going to start wondering why we can’t have nice things like the citizens of Colorado or New Jersey. Every perceived ‘perk’ of living in a sport with a decent regulatory framework for sports betting will just intensify this effect.

On a macro level, the mainstreaming of sports betting is also very important. Just the display of betting odds in BWW’s 1,300 or so stores is something I thought I’d never see. The more comfortable the mainstream becomes with odds and sports betting the greater the benefit to the industry as a whole.

There’s just any number of implications specific to this deal and in more general terms to other deals like this. Look for a full analysis in the coming week. Also, I’ll be back out in Colorado in early April and I’ll give you a first hand look at the ‘unique sports betting experience’ that BetMGM and Buffalo Wild Wings is serving up.

The latest edition of the MGM Minute video update has coverage of the BetMGM/BWW collaboration:

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