Philadelphia Eagles Writing the Playbook On Sports Betting and iGaming Partnerships

The 2021 offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles is filled with plenty of on-field personnel questions.

  • Will Jalen Hurts be the starting quarterback or will the Birds select a QB with their No. 6 pick in the NFL Draft?
  • Based on current projections, the Eagles are $49 million over the salary cap. What players will be on the move to alleviate the cap hit?
  • Who is going to fill the glaring holes at wide receiver, offensive line and linebacker?

Off the field, when it comes to sports betting partnerships, the Eagles have a solid roster. It’s due in large part to the work of Catherine Carlson, the Eagles’ Senior VP of Revenue and Strategy. Prior to landing with the Eagles, Carlson worked for Disney, the Orlando Magic, and Australian sports organizations.

Carlson develops new revenue streams for the Eagles through sponsorship and media. She has tapped into multiple veins of the sports betting industry as the Eagles have partnerships with DraftKings, Unibet and Fox Bet and a new deal with Esports Entertainment Group, a betting platform for esports.

Pro teams capitalize on iGaming and sportsbook partnerships

Carlson and Jim Van Stone, President of Business Operations & Chief Commercial Officer at Monumental Sports Entertainment provided their insights this week during the webinar “Securing the Right Sportsbook Partner” presented by G2E and the American Gaming Association.

The Eagles are among the many professional teams that are capitalizing on legal sports betting to create partnerships with operators. As Carlson explained:

“The sportsbook partnership category has evolved significantly over the past few years. Research showed our Philly fans like to gamble.

“For us and other teams, we are taking a non-exclusive approach to the category. We have three sportsbook partners. It may sound like a lot but we are very thoughtful on maintaining a meaningful share of voice and how we execute it is by providing different platforms and different opportunities for our partners. Each one also has different objectives and different KPIs. The overarching objective for all of them to partner with us is to build their customer base and make money.”

Here is a look at the Philadelphia Eagles partnerships:

Team Partner Date What’s it for?
Philadelphia Eagles Unibet Oct. 2019 Official casino partner
Philadelphia Eagles Fox Bet Sept. 2020 Lounge and production studio at Lincoln Financial Field
Philadelphia Eagles DraftKings Oct. 2020 Official DFS partner and official sports betting partner
Philadelphia Eagles Unibet Oct. 2020 Official sportsbook partner

Statistics on sports betting

Washington, D.C. fans like to gamble too. Monumental Sports & Entertainment owns the Washington Wizards, Washington Capitals and the Capital One Arena, home to the first legal sportsbook in a pro sports venue in the US.

Van Stone pointed to research Monumental Sports conducted on the sports betting landscape and Washington D.C. fans and found:

  • Fans were 2X more likely compared to the general marketplace to place a bet on sports
  • 12x more likely to be interested in DFS
  • 67% more likely to place a bet online
  • 34% more likely to bet at least $500 on an annual basis.

“We thought this was a huge opportunity from a fan engagement standpoint,” said Van Stone. “Sports betting provides a great opportunity to enhance the overall experience for fans in venues. We’ve been bullish on it.”

Eagles and Unibet

The Eagles’ first foray into iGaming and sportsbook partnerships was with Unibet. In Oct. 2019, the Birds and Unibet announced a multiyear partnership that made Unibet an official casino partner.

As part of the deal, Unibet received permanent branding presence on Lincoln Financial Field‘s Northwest Suites located on the main concourse. Unibet signage is prominently displayed on the “Eagles Nest Tower,” the stadium’s digital billboard.

Carlson commented on Unibet, which is part of the European-based Kindred Group:

“Their focus was on building brand awareness and credibility in the marketplace because people weren’t familiar with the brand in the United States.”

Now-former Eagles head coach Doug Pederson once-innovative play calling went stagnant in 2020 but that wasn’t the case off the field. Carlson said the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Eagles to be more creative and innovative with their partners.

Perhaps the best example of that is launching Eagles-branded Blackjack and an online slot at Unibet online casino. They are the first casino games with professional sports branding. Carlson said it’s been “tremendously successful” for Unibet.

“Working with them to create the co-branded online casino games was a great way for us to extend our brand. It demonstrated the power of the Eagles brand and that we could drive value whether there are games being played at our stadium or not.”

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Eagles and Fox Bet

The Eagles and Fox Bet bonded with a multiyear partnership in Oct. 2020. The biggest part of the deal is a 4,000-square-foot Fox Bet lounge and production studio at Lincoln Financial Field.

Other aspects of the Fox Bet and Eagles partnership include:

  • Broadcast, digital and social media advertising on team channels.
  • Custom promotions and a branding presence on game days.
  • Prominent messaging on the stadium’s LED board and end zone boards, and signage on concourse levels.
  • The presenting sponsor of the Eagles Tailgate Crew, tailgating pods featuring Eagles Entertainment groups that will interact with Eagles fans, when they return, in the parking lots on game days.

She called the Fox Bet Lounge her “pandemic project.”

The Eagles only got to host 5,000 fans for three games at the Linc during the 2020 season. The Flyers, Phillies, and Sixers have recently put in requests to have limited capacity for home games.

With vaccination distribution picking up and COVID rates falling in PA, it’s a safe bet the Eagles will follow suit. On the Eagles website, they are touting season membership to the Fox Bet Lounge for the 2021 season for Eagles Season Ticket Members, Suite Holders, and Partners.

Membership benefits of the Fox Bet Lounge include:

  • Private entrance to Lincoln Financial field and preferred parking
  • Witness Eagles players arrival on game day
  • See visiting team walk on the field
  • View post-game press conferences
  • All-inclusive food and beverage offerings from pre-game through one-hour post-game

Eagles and DraftKings

Also in Oct. 2020, the Eagles added DraftKings to their roster of partners by making them their official daily fantasy sports partner and official sports betting partner.

DraftKings got exclusive naming rights to the field club at Lincoln Financial Field. The premium lounge, the DraftKings Field Club is “a true VIP experience.” Some features of the lounge are exclusive game-day access featuring an on-field viewing area in the north end zone and hospitality arrangements in the private club space.

DraftKings branding is integrated throughout the Eagles’ social media channels, practice livestreams and Eagles-affiliated broadcasts. Also, it will have sponsorship activations included in the team’s annual NFL Draft Party.

Eagles Stat Showdown, a free-to-play game from DraftKings, gives fans the opportunity to win weekly prizes throughout the NFL season.

Carlson on the DraftKings partnership:

“We are focused with them on customer acquisition and fan engagement through the free-to-play games and tapping into some of our fan favorite assets such as live-streaming practice. I feel like we have had a very successful model creating truly meaningful value with multiple partners.”

The NFL and responsible gaming

Carlson noted that the NFL and the teams have taken a “thoughtful approach” to not advertise sports betting to a young audience. For example, the Eagles avoid betting and online casino-related advertising in situations that may be intended for minors.

There is no signage for Unibet, DraftKings or Fox Bet in the stadium’s lower bowl because it is TV visible. The Fox Bet Lounge does have tickers with odds; however, it is only for fans over the age of 18.

“The NFL has provided us with guardrails to ensure we are being responsible in our relationships with sportsbooks,” said Carlson. “They have a gambling policy and the guardrails protect the integrity of the game as the No. 1 priority.”

What’s next

Carlson said on-site activation at Lincoln Financial Field is a “pipe dream” right now.

“We aren’t committed to jumping into that quite yet.”

Van Stone pointed to the opportunities around legalization and partnerships:

“I think there is going to be a huge lift in new opportunities and programming. One of the things I’m excited about is the tech companies that arise out of the approved sports betting landscape. There is going to be a huge opportunity for new ideas and innovation. The rules and regulations, even over the last 18 months have changed dramatically. It’s going to be a fast-moving train.”

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola

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