What Can US Sports Betting Marketers Learn From The UK Industry?

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From the moment the US Supreme Court shut down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018, sports betting across the country changed forever. Gambling on sports events had occurred in the country prior to its legalisation, but saw bettors grappling with unreliable offshore accounts and cumbersome payment processes. When the landmark decision was made six years ago, the floodgates were opened for legalised sports gambling across the nation.

States swiftly began legalising sports betting in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling. Gambling advertisements became commonplace across various media platforms, rocketed by the new era of accessibility and convenience for bettors like never before. With just a few taps on their smartphones, individuals could now place bets anytime, anywhere, revolutionising the way Americans engaged with sports wagering.

As betting business continues to boom, the US has looked to the UK and Europe as benchmarks for industry standards and best practices, drawing upon their experiences for marketing sports betting. The UK has had a strong relationship with sports betting since the Betting and Gambling Act made it legal in 1960, here are some of the ways US marketers ca learn from them.

1. Use celebrity endorsements with caution

US sports betting marketers should heed the cautionary tale unfolding in the UK, where there is mounting public backlash towards excessive advertising and the use of celebrity endorsement. Former England and Arsenal football player Paul Merson has previously said it “sickens” him when he sees sportspeople appear in gambling ads.  

In October 2022, the UK placed huge curbs on the use of celebrity and influencer endorsements in gambling advertisements. The Committee for Advertising Practice banned advertisements from featuring:

  • Sportspeople popular with under-18s including those with a considerable volume of under-18 followers on social media.
  • References to video game content and gameplay popular with under-18s.
  • Stars from reality shows popular with under-18s
  • Topflight footballers and footballers with a considerable following among under-18 on social media. 

As international markets increasingly prioritise consumer welfare and regulatory oversight, US sports betting marketers must tread carefully to avoid alienating the very audience they seek to engage. Whilst the US public still seems to be receptive to these methods (you can see Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Affleck stride through casinos with their smartphones in hand), relying on them too heavily could put marketers in hot water, should the tide begin to turn.

2. Digital tactics offer a good alternative to costly sponsorships and TV

In a saturated television market, where five players control 82% of advertising slots, digital channels are the obvious alternative. The NFL limited Super Bowl viewers to just three sports betting ads for this year’s big game, Super Bowl marketing costs a pretty penny as it is, so US sports betting marketers face a battle for visibility that drives up advertising costs and narrows the field for smaller or emerging players.

Against this backdrop, digital advertising is a potent avenue for reaching target audiences with precision and efficiency. With an estimated $282 million spent on TV commercials by US sports betting companies between September 2021 and May 2022, the digital landscape offers a more cost-effective and measurable alternative. 

UK sportsbooks like Paddy Power already leverage their social media to execute hyper-engaging and cost effective marketing campaigns around big sporting events and news. Smart moves from UK players like this show how digital channels afford sports betting marketers the opportunity to engage with prospective customers gradually through retargeting strategies, fostering brand loyalty and driving conversions over time. 

3. Beware the honeymoon period of quick acquisition tactics

As the US sports betting market matures, marketers must navigate the transition from quick acquisition tactics to sustainable profitability while prioritising responsible gambling practices. While initial strategies that focus on attracting customers through freebies and bonuses are invaluable, there is now a pressing need to enhance these with more targeted and efficient advertising approaches. Marketers can start by ensuring the bonus acquisition campaigns they are running are doing so with optimal efficiency. These tactics are at risk from abuse by bad actors, and adding sports betting campaign protection across them can lead to huge reductions in wasted budget.

Marketers’ focus should shift towards precise and scalable marketing strategies that resonate with evolving customer demographics, leveraging the wealth of specialist martech for the sports betting industry


Superb examples of UK sports betting advertising include Coral’s We’re here for it campaign, which puts existing customers at the centre of the narrative. Taking a strategic multichannel approach, the ads ran on TV, video-on-demand and radio, and formed a key part of Coral’s Cheltenham Festival campaign, used through Out of Home media (OOH), print advertising and broadcast sponsorships with Racing TV and Sky Sports Racing. Coral also staged a branded takeover of Cheltenham Spa station over the four days of the Festival reaching an audience of thousands. 

There will always be value in quick acquisition tactics, but never underestimate the power of an advertising campaign with a customer-centric message.

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