With a solid product, big promotional spending and a consistent advertising presence, U.K.-based bet365 Sportsbook has managed to gain a strong foothold in Ohio’s young sports betting market.
In each of the first four months of legal sports betting in Ohio, bet365 has ranked in the top five of Ohio sportsbooks in market share and revenue.
All four months, Bet365 has also ranked in the top five in promotional spending.
That aggressive approach to promo spending — via sign-up deals with generous “bonus bet” giveaways — has been key to the sportsbook’s good showing in the state so far.
The consistently big promotional spending (as other sportsbooks pulled back on it more dramatically) is suggestive of bet365’s overall spend-and-wait strategy when it comes to the U.S. market.
Though it’s too soon to say how it will pan out in the long run, that patience appears to be paying off in Ohio so far.
Bet365 has spent big on promotions in Ohio
Like all Ohio sportsbooks, bet365 Sportsbook’s promotional spending has decreased since January’s rampant new-state promo bonanza, but not quite at the same rate as its primary competitors.
March was bet365’s biggest month of promotional spending yet. Bet365’s nearly $17 million promotional spend in March was by far the most of any sportsbook, nearly double the state’s two dominant sports betting leaders, FanDuel Sportsbook and Draftkings Sportsbook.
The Ohio Casino Control Commission’s April revenue report showed bet365 promotional spending drop 70.5% from March. Bet365’s nearly $5 million in promo spending was still the most of any sportsbook besides FanDuel and Draftkings.
April’s revenue report also showed that, for the first time since launching in Ohio, bet365’s revenue ($5,111,655) was higher than its promotional spend ($4,990,132), a big next step for the sportsbook.
In terms of competitiveness, March was bet365’s best performing month so far, ranking third among all sportsbooks in both revenue and market share.
Solid bet365 app has helped success
While some sportsbooks in Ohio have dialed back some of their more lucrative sign-up bonuses and other promos, bet365 has maintained the same “bet $1, get $200 in bonus bets” new-user offer it has had in place since January.
The heavy promotional spending helps attract new customers and, if the product is good, those patrons are more likely to return as repeat customers.
Bet365 Sportsbook’s app has been praised by users and reviewers. Gambling industry research and analysis firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming recently published its quarterly U.S. Sports Betting App Rankings Report, in which bet365’s sportsbook app remained in the No. 4 position behind only FanDuel, DraftKings and PointsBet Sportsbook.
EKG’s nationwide group of app testers “particularly liked the bet365 SGP engine and its transparent pricing,” according to the reports, and the bet365 app received higher grades than in previous quarters in the company’s five testing categories — UX, betting interface, features, core and aesthetics.
Elsewhere, bet365’s sportsbook app has been praised for its design, user-friendliness, fast payouts and wide range of markets and in-play bet options. The sportsbook also received high marks for offering good odds and steady, competitive lines, a big part of bet365’s solid global reputation.
Advertising has helped bet365 increase its name recognition
One of bet365’s biggest challenges breaking into the U.S. market is its relative lack of name recognition. DraftKings and FanDuel’s dominance among U.S. sportsbooks has made them household names, while Hard Rock Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook and Caesars Sportsbook benefit from the legacy gambling brands with which they’re connected.
But Bet365 has been doing a good job with increasing the brand’s name recognition by steadily and smartly advertising the sportsbook in Ohio.
On top of online ads, Bet365’s TV advertising campaign (starring “Breaking Bad” actor Aaron Paul) has had a consistent presence on Ohio’s television airwaves. During Cincinnati Reds broadcasts on the Bally Sports Ohio network over the past several weeks, for example, bet365’s baseball-themed commercials have been some of the more prominent sportsbook spots.
Bet365’s commercials are more subtle than some of the others that heavily advertise. The spots mostly just feature Paul numbly reciting the different markets offered, as opposed to the chaotic energy of some of the other big sportsbooks’ often over-the-top, hit-or-miss attempts at humor.
Bet365’s commercials are also shown at a reasonable rate. In the early stages of legal sports betting in Ohio it sometimes felt like the ads from the larger sportsbook companies were shown every TV commercial break, leading some Ohioans to bemoan the sudden “bombardment” of sports betting advertising.
Overall, bet365’s advertising approach has largely avoided being annoying, an almost sneaky way to stand out from its competitors.
Bet365 recently went live in fifth state, Iowa
While bet365 has a long way to go to catch up with FanDuel and DraftKings, in Ohio it has stood tall against — and often surpassed — the efforts of second-tier sportsbooks like Barstool Sportsbook, Caesars and BetMGM.
That’s impressive for a relative newcomer to the U.S. sports betting market.
While a leading gaming force in the U.K. and other global markets, bet365 first came to the U.S. in 2019, when it went live in New Jersey.
It wasn’t until 2022 that bet365 launched in its second U.S. state, Colorado. In January 2023, bet365’s sportsbook came to Ohio (Jan. 1) and Virginia (Jan. 31).
Bet365 added its fifth state, Iowa, on June 5.
Company’s financial situation allows for patient strategy
That gradual growth shows the benefits of bet365’s patient approach.
The company can afford to spend a lot and be patient strategically thanks to its financial situation. Due to its massive success all over the world, bet365 has deep pockets, allowing it to be patient as other companies potentially overspend or, in the case of some newer, smaller sportsbooks, disappear altogether.
Bet365 is also a privately held company, owned by the billionaire Coates family. That means bet365 isn’t beholden to shareholders who might not be so comfortable with a patient, delayed-gratification approach.
Last year, as pundits were speculating about whether bet365 had any chance of succeeding in the U.S., sports betting industry consultant Peter Nolan told Legal Sports Report that the Coates family were well-positioned to help bet365 have an impact in America.
“They are very shrewd and they know the value is not here yet,” Nolan said. “The unit economics of some of these U.S. deals don’t make sense. They are being done for share prices, whereas bet365 makes so much money elsewhere, they can afford to wait.”
Bet365’s approach in the Ohio market seems to be working so far — in just four months, the company has increased its name recognition and remained highly competitive with its market share. It will be interesting to see if the sportsbook’s Ohio success reinforces bet365’s strategy as it continues to expand into other states.