A day after announcing a partnership with FanDuel, the Denver Broncos have rolled out a deal with U.K.-based Betfred as the team’s second sports betting operator partner.
That FanDuel deal made the Broncos the first NFL team to finalize a deal with an official sports betting partner after the league changed its policy and allowed them in February. Teams are now allowed to sell official sportsbook sponsorships within their home markets, as well as provide signage and displays for those companies in their stadiums and on their websites.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but both the FanDuel and Betfred partnerships are “big multi-year deals,” according to Brady Kellogg, Broncos senior vice president of corporate partnerships. The sports betting category is non-exclusive for the Broncos, and they could add a third partner, but only if the fit is right, he said.
“We didn’t set out to be the first, but to do the right deals with the right partners with the right structure,” Kellogg said. “They complement each other a lot. They’re used to coexisting and collectively want to build the category, but also compete aggressively for market share.”
Colorado is shaping up to be one of the most competitive markets for sports betting operators with already approximately 20 online operators licensed. Becoming a Broncos partner could be a key differentiator in a crowded market, particularly for one not yet well known in the U.S. like Betfred, said Bryan Bennett, the company’s U.S. chief operating officer.
Since 1967, the privately-owned Betfred has grown into one of the largest sportsbook operators in the U.K. with 1,500 retail locations and a robust online business. Last year, the company turned its eyes to emerging markets – starting with Spain and now the U.S. Betfred also has a long history of partnerships in the U.K., ranging from Premier League teams to darts events.
“Coming from the U.K., the vast majority of Colorado sports bettors don’t know who we are, and we need something big, aggressive, and bold to set us apart, and it doesn’t get bigger than the Broncos,” Bennett said. “We talked to all the teams but earmarked the Broncos; it was something we knew we needed to do – [it] gives us credibility and immediate name recognition.”
Sports betting was legalized in Colorado on May 1, so the state is ripe for operators to make their claims on the user base. While FanDuel is taking a national approach with its platform, Betfred is taking a more localized approach, concentrating on local markets.
Colorado is the second U.S. state Betfred is investing heavily in after launching in Iowa. It will also have a more physical presence at Empower Field at Mile High than FanDuel, with a pop-up gaming lounge outside the stadium in an area called Sports Legends Mall.
Betfred partnered with Black Hawk, Colorado-based Saratoga Casino Black Hawk for a physical sportsbook presence in the state and should have a mobile app up and running by the start of the NFL season.
For the Broncos, Kellogg said sports betting partnerships are an opportunity to build out fan engagement further – and supporting local water projects, which the state has decided to allocate tax revenue from sports betting.
“We and the league anticipate a lot of the same effects as in the daily fantasy sports space, those engaged are apt to consume more live game content, read more and interact more with digital and social,” he said. “It’s a huge opportunity for their business with the evolution of the league, but our team business, and ultimately for the league and the state governments.”
The Broncos are also in a unique position with a fan base that has heavily transitioned to mobile alongside a substantially technology-focused backbone at Empower Field. The team had the third-highest percentage of mobile ticket scans and messaged speed to help convert 20% of iOS users to concession transactions on Apple Pay by the end of last season.
Colorado is a state that allows for potential sports bettors to register and deposit all on mobile without making a stop at a physical sportsbook.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage a fan base that has been tech adopters,” Kellogg said. “Our fans have shown desire and capacity to engage in tech this way, and we have the infrastructure to support it.”
Bennett said Betfred would be active in the partnership space as it looks to build out name recognition in the U.S. It has been in talks with teams, especially in Pennsylvania, where it’s launching next. The company is also talking to events, such as golf tournaments.
“We do believe we’ll do additional deals for the same reason we thought it was important to partner with the Broncos,” he said. “We’re looking at deals in other markets we go into as we build into a household name.”