Pilot Heidi Kennedy
Head of Casino Operations
Head of Casino Operations
The imminent launch of legalized sports betting in Ohio has the gears turning for operators and teams alike. The Cincinnati Bengals are getting out in front of the highly anticipated launch date by cutting a deal with Betfred to be their official sports betting partner.
Ohio’s legislature voted to legalize sports betting in December of 2021, and with the official launch on January 1 getting closer all the time the industry is already hard at work in preparation. With Ohio poised to become one of the top sports betting markets in the country, the state’s NFL teams represent a particularly lucrative opportunity as a partner. The Cincinnati Bengals are the first team to cash in on that value, signing an agreement with Betfred to make them an official sportsbook partner. The move kicks off what is sure to be a flurry of deals between online sports betting sites and the state’s pro teams.
The deal grants Betfred the rights to leverage the Bengals’ assets for promotional purposes, as well as giving them the ability to host in-person fan engagement events as well as host freeplay gaming and other promotional opportunities. With the popularity of the Bengals at its highest peak in years, the partnership is designed to benefit the Bengals with increased fan engagement and additional activities that will heighten game day excitement.
The top few online sportsbooks dominate the US market currently, making it tough for other operators to carve out a niche. Betfred is far from a novice in the field, however, having 50 years of experience operating over 1,400 betting shops in the United Kingdom. They are already operating in six US states, and they continue to push forward as one of the top US bookmakers and seek growth in the highly competitive market.
Landing this deal with potential competition from the top US-based sportsbooks was a win for the company, and Betfred Group Chief Operating Officer Mark Stebbings expressing his optimism by giving this statement in a press release: “This is an exciting opportunity to partner with the Bengals as we continue to expand Betfred across the US and into Ohio with the launch of sports betting in the near future. The Bengals are a premier franchise with a passionate fanbase and a history of innovation that aligns with our brand. We look forward to engaging with fans across the state as we introduce them to unique betting promotions and content throughout the year.”
Getting an opportunity to partner with an NFL team in the Ohio sports betting market would be a win for any sportsbook, but the fact that teams will be restricted from entering into more than two partnerships with sportsbooks make the deal especially valuable for Betfred. There are plenty of high-quality options for the state’s professional teams to choose from, and the fact that the Bengals picked Betfred is a testament to the team’s admiration of Betfred’s extensive history and impeccable reputation.
Betfred’s experience and reputation have already landed them a partnership with another NFL team, the Denver Broncos, and will serve them well as they enter into a crowded marketplace. The company will be facing stiff competition in Ohio with the likes of DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and the potential Fanatics sportsbook offering all actively working to secure licensing and prepare to meet the January 1 launch date.
As lucrative as the potential is for sportsbooks that manage to grab one of the limited professional sports team partnerships that are available, the teams know that leveraging legal sports betting is going to be essential for maintaining top notch fan engagement. Sports betting is more popular than ever, and this partnership provides a direct path for the Bengals to strengthen their connection with their fans.
Brian Sells, Bengals Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer said “The Bengals continue to look for exciting new ways to enhance the fan experience and this partnership will provide additional opportunities to engage with our fans. We look forward to working with Betfred to create fun, fan-focused activations that add to the excitement on gameday.”