Sports Illustrated About to Join Legal Sports Betting Fray

Sports Illustrated About to Join Legal Sports Betting Fray
A Sports Illustrated magazine. Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP

The legal sports betting industry has experienced exponential growth in the US since the Supreme Court reversed a 1992 federal law that banned sports gambling outside of Nevada, Montana and Delaware back in 2018. Since that time, there has been a broad mainstreaming of the platform that has included sports leagues, sports teams, pop-culture icons and even major media outlets.

The latest to signal a desire to enter the US legal sports betting fray is Sports Illustrated, whose parent company Authentic Brands Group last week announced an exclusive partnership with 888 Holdings to develop Sports Illustrated online sports betting app and iGaming products.

The goal is to create a world class online sportsbook with an eye on the end of 2021 for launch.

“We are thrilled to announce that Sports Illustrated is entering the online sports betting and iGaming space,” Authentic Brands Group founder, Chairman and CEO Jamie Salter said. “888 is one of the leaders in online betting and gaming globally and has outstanding technology, products and marketing capabilities, and we are excited to partner with them to offer an innovative product experience for sports fans.”

Taking Advantage

Sports Illustrated has seen other media outlets like NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Sinclair Broadcasting and FOX, to name four, getting into the legal sports betting fray. 888 Holdings, a global entity with broad experience in legal sports betting globally presented SI an offer to take advantage of the exploding US scene.

As of now, there are 22 states plus Washington, DC that offers legal sports betting with another nine having legalized and are looking to launch later this year. At that time, half of Americans will be able to place a legal sports bet with the promise of more to come.

The Sports Illustrated Angle

Sports Illustrated has been and continues to be one of the most iconic sports reporting brands globally. It has been around for 57 years. The magazine/website boasts a total of 30 million unique visitors to its website. The next step in the SI evolution will be “SI Sportsbook” that hopes to go live by the start of the NFL season.

Authentic Brands Group will leverage the popularity of the SI brand and gain brand licensing and affiliate fees along with an equity stake in 888.

Sports Illustrate gains intense expertise in the industry and the instant know-how of how to best access and maintain customers throughout the legal sports betting world. SI will get advertising dollars from 888 and hope that the British-based sports betting company will take their promotion of SI to the next level.

“Sports wagering represents a large and high-growth market, allowing us to diversify the brand’s revenue streams and engage directly with our sports consumers, broadening the reach of the brand,” said Jamie Salter, CEO of Authentic Brands.

SI is said to be working on betting information and comprehensive wagering coverage that is expected to be ready for the fall. Included in that coverage will be in-depth analysis, tools and widgets on the SI website. A gambling-themed print edition of Sports Illustrated’s iconic magazine is expected in August.

888 Wins Too

Not unlike other major global sports betting providers, 888 Holdings is looking for a bigger piece of the US market-pie. They should gain it through their partnership with Sports Illustrated. Exposure after all, is the key to the US legal sports betting kingdom.

888 gets an exclusive license for the use of the Sports Illustrated brand and trademarks for online sports betting and igaming, and certain exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on select Sports Illustrated branded digital assets.

“We are delighted to announce this strategic partnership, enabling us to accelerate our investment into the US, which represents one of the most exciting long-term growth opportunities for our company,” said 888 Holdings CEO, Itai Pazner. “Sports Illustrated is an iconic sports media brand, with high awareness and consumer loyalty. This agreement provides us access to millions of engaged sports fans across the US, giving us a high-volume and cost-effective customer acquisition channel, and great content to engage sports fans. We are excited about the potential to deliver our cutting-edge, proprietary sportsbook platform into the market, providing Sports Illustrated fans with a first-class betting and gaming experience.”

Targeting Colorado

It is expected that the SI Sportsbook will first be launched in Colorado sometime in 2021 with the start of the NFL season as an obvious target. It makes sense since 888 Holdings announced in December that they had gained market access into Colorado, Iowa and Indiana.

888 Holdings announced a multiyear agreement with Grande Casino in Cripple Creek, Colorado where the SI Sportsbook could be situated, although no firm plans have been laid out.

So, prepare to see the SI Sportsbook advertised everywhere as they join the throngs of companies looking to take advantage of the US legal sports betting gold rush. It won’t be long before their desired launch – the start of the NFL season is just over three months away.


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