- Caesars Entertainment & William Hill are now an official sports betting partner of the Indianapolis Colts.
- Caesars is awaiting a formal shareholder vote by William Hill stockholders after their £2.7 billion takeover offer was approved by the company’s board of directors.
- William Hill recently took over operation of Caesars Entertainment’s Nevada sportsbooks.
William Hill continues to benefit from their close relationship with Caesars Entertainment. For now at least, they remain two separate companies with Caesars £2.7 billion takeover bid having been approved by the William Hill board and pending a full shareholder vote. The official status of the iconic UK bookmaking company is ‘exclusive sports betting partner’, a designation they had with Eldorado Resorts prior to to their merger with Caesars Entertainment. The expectation is that William Hill shareholders will approve Caesars’ offer which is presumably why they’re now making joint sponsorship deals.
More specifically, William Hill & Caesars Entertainment are now an official sports betting partner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. It is the first joint NFL sponsorship by the two companies and continues the trend of professional teams and leagues lending their imprimatur to sportsbooks in exchange for financial remuneration. For the NFL, their newfound enthusiasm for sports betting is a dramatic change from their long history of opposing it in the United States. When they realized that sports betitng was inevitable in the United States they initially tried the ‘strongarm’ approach by seeking ‘integrity fees’ and lobbying states to require that ‘official league data’ be used by bookmakers. After that approach met with negligible success they finally ‘read the writing on the wall’ and took a more collaborative approach.
Roger VanDerSnick, Colts Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, spoke for the team about the deal with Caesars/William Hill in a press release announcing the arrangement. The party line among NFL teams is that they’re establishing promotional relationships with sportsbooks to ‘increase engagement and connection’ with their fanbase. The term ‘cash grab’ is seldom mentioned or even alluded to obliquely:
“In the digital age, and particularly this virtual world in which we find ourselves now, finding new ways to engage with our fans, partners and community is one of our top priorities. This partnership with Caesars Entertainment and William Hill will help us better connect with Colts fans everywhere as we navigate this very unique season in 2020 and offer a greater fan experience well into the future.”
Extra credit points for alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic as partial justification for making the deal. Part of the deal includes something that has been used elsewhere by other sportsbooks as part of team sponsorship deals, a free to play parlay game with weekly and season-long prizes:
As part of the agreement, Caesars Rewards, the largest customer loyalty program in the industry, will sponsor a free-to-play “Pick 6 Predictor” game on the Colts Mobile App. The Pick 6 Predictor generates a series of questions, that fans predict the outcome of, before the upcoming games. Correct picks are rewarded with weekly prizes, and all participants are entered into a chance to win a trip to Las Vegas to stay at a Caesars Entertainment property.
This paragraph is pretty vague, but it sounds like the Colts will directly market to William Hill’s clients within the actual mobile betting app:
Pending regulatory approval, the Caesars Indiana mobile sports betting app “Caesars Sports Book by William Hill” will integrate into the franchise’s media and marketing efforts, bringing exclusive offers and promotions directly to fans through the newly branded sports betting app.
Until the Caesars acquisition of William Hill is finalized it looks we’ll get ‘two press release quotes for the price of one’. Chris Holdren, Co-President of Sports and Online Gaming for Caesars Entertainment, gets the party started for the gaming companies:
“Our company has deep roots in Indiana. This expanded partnership with William Hill and our long relationship with the Indianapolis Colts deepens our strong ties within the community. Combined, both will provide an exciting entertainment experience – on gamedays and beyond.”
Next up, Sharon Otterman, Chief Marketing Officer of William Hill, continued the ‘Indiana roots’ theme:
“William Hill Sports Book entered the Indiana market last year and has seen tremendous success. This latest partnership between William Hill, Caesars Entertainment and the Indianapolis Colts brings together three industry-leaders that are reshaping the way fans engage with sports during unprecedented times. We’re excited to be revolutionizing the way fans connect with their hometown team in Indianapolis and look forward to all that’s in store for this football season.”
Like every professional sports league the NFL is scrambling to find revenue streams as the COVID-19 pandemic has largely kept fans from attending games live. Don’t be surprised if the team sponsorships we’re seeing this year is something of a trial run for official NFL sponsorship and promotional deals at the league level. This has always looked inevitable and with the current market conditions you could see it as soon as the 2021 season.