Sportbooks say pre-Super Bowl push for new customers scored

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FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, a man makes a sports bet at Resorts casino in Atlantic City, N.J. Sports books say the blitz of advertising they launched in the run up to the 2021 Super Bowl, while costly, paid off in terms of attracting new customers to the fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Scuba divers or astronauts on the International Space Station may be the only humans who avoided a barrage of advertisements over the last two weeks enticing them to bet on the Super Bowl.

But the expensive, ubiquitous come-ons succeeded in driving new customers to many of the nation’s largest sportsbooks, boding well for the fast-growing legal sports betting industry in the U.S.

The gambling companies won't reveal exactly how many new customers they gained in the run-up to Sunday's Super Bowl, saying that is closely held proprietary information. But in general terms, they say the barrage of ads — many of which offered easy-to-win bets reserved for new players — succeeded in gaining them new customers they hope will continue to bet with them.

Larry Faller of Sterling Heights, Michigan, was among those bombarded with Super Bowl betting ads. He chose BetRivers.com, operated by Rush Street Interactive, which offered an eventual $500 match on his first $100 deposit.

“It seemed like a nice offer, so I took it,” said Faller, a 67-year-old retired newspaper pressman.

Signing up four hours before kickoff of the NFL's title game, he used his money to place bets on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl outright and to beat a point spread. (Tampa Bay beat the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.)

Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive, said customer acquisition costs in the sports betting industry are expensive and likely to become more so as the industry grows. He said the company has seen “strong returns” on such spending, including its pre-Super Bowl push.

Keith Gormley, head of U.S. marketing for Tipico, agreed. His sportsbook originated in Europe and recently began taking bets in New Jersey and Colorado.