MediaRadar Blog

2023 MediaRadar Prediction: Gambling Advertisers Bet Big on Traditional Formats

As we approach the end of the year, we’re covering trends from key markets in 2022. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.  

In May 2018, the Supreme Court legalized sports betting, paving the way for gambling companies to capitalize on a relatively untapped market. 

So far, DraftKings, Flutter Entertainment (FanDuel), and MGM (BetMGM) have done just that. 

In fact, DraftKings’ annual revenue in 2021 was more than $1.2b, representing a 110.9% YoY increase from 2020. 

Given the growth—and potential for even more—it’s no surprise that advertisers for these companies are doing everything in their power to win market share.

Here’s how gambling advertisers are spending through October 2022—and the dramatic turn they’ll make in 2023. 

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MediaRadar Insights on Gambling Advertising in 2022

Through October, more than 440 gambling advertisers invested more than $738mm across digital, print, and T.V. ads, representing a 22% YoY increase.

A level deeper, spending in Q1 was up by 49% YoY ($266mm), which makes sense given the big Super Bowl push.

Spending continued in Q2, increasing by 46% YoY ($158mm+), but growth slowed in Q3 to just 3% ($219mm) YoY. 

Here’s how these advertisers allocated nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars: 

Gambling Advertising Media Mix

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. said they’ve bet money on sports in the past year. But despite skewing toward younger generations and the growth of betting apps, the media mix of gambling advertisers is heavily in favor of traditional formats. 

Of the $738mm invested, about 69% went to national broadcast and cable T.V. and print ads. 

This isn’t some short-lived, pandemic-fueled shift, either. 

T.V. advertising is up by 27% YoY, with CBS and NBC being the primary beneficiaries (these networks received more than 60% of the T.V. ad spend). Six additional networks—ABC, CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and TNT—each received more than $15mm.

Meanwhile, spending on print advertising increased by 52% YoY. New York Daily News and USA Today were the primary beneficiaries, with each receiving around $3mm. 

The deviation from the advertising norm, i.e., how most advertisers spend, continued into OTT

Despite a burst of growth during the pandemic, where time spent on streaming services increased by more than 35% a month between March 2020 to February 2021, OTT ad spending has since decreased substantially. 

Through October, gambling advertisers decreased their investment in OTT by almost 50% YoY, thanks to an 86% dip in Hulu spending

Although these advertisers opt for a non-traditional (but totally traditional) strategy, they’re not totally put off by modern ad formats, indicative of their 23% YoY increase in podcast advertising.

They also invested in social—Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook received a combined $124mm. That said, spending on Facebook was down by 16% YoY.

Media Mixes of Top Gambling Advertisers in 2022

Although more than 400 gambling advertisers opened their wallets in 2022, just three—DraftKings, Flutter Entertainment, and MGM Resorts International—accounted for most of it. 

Combined, these advertisers spent more than $460mm or 62% of the investment from the gambling industry. 


Through October, advertisers for DraftKings spent 43% of their budget on digital formats while investing the rest in print (2%) and T.V. (56%).

Of their digital dollars, 43% went to social media, 35% to digital display, and 5% to podcast. The remaining budget went to a mix of mobile, native, online video, and OTT. 

In contrast, through October 2021, they spent 34% of their budget on digital display, 29% on OTT, 16% on online video, and the rest on mobile, native, podcast, and social media.

While DraftKings has been keen on spending big, a more cautious approach is nearing, with spend falling significantly after an increase during the Super Bowl.

That said, advertisers have recently added an NFT element to their marketing strategy, launching a campaign featuring Kevin Hart that allows players to “create lineups based on the NFTs of players they own every week of the season.” 

Flutter Entertainment

Advertisers for Flutter Entertainment invested 95% of their ad dollars on T.V. and just 5% on digital. 

Those digital dollars went to display (29%), podcasts (27%), social media (18%), online video (16%), OTT ( 9%), and mobile and print (1%). 

The most notable shift in strategy came regarding video, with advertisers dropping their investment from 75% to 16%, which is surprising given the need for efficiency and ROI.

That said, in August, the company named Andrew Sneyd as Executive Vice President of Marketing, which could prompt shifts in their media mix. 

Part of that shift will likely include a continued effort to “persuade more women to participate in sports betting.”

While it’s easy to scratch your head at the TV-heavy strategy, it’s hard to argue with it considering FanDuel recently became the first profitable sportsbook


MGM (BetMGM) split its ad dollars between traditional and digital ad formats. 

Through October, MGM’s advertisers spent 50% of their budget on digital and the remaining 4% and 45% on print and T.V., respectively.

When looking at its digital dollars, 77% went to social media, while 11%, 2%, and 10% went to digital display, OTT, and a mix (mobile, native, podcasts, and online video). 

What Does This Mean for Gambling Advertisers in 2023?

On the surface, these non-traditional ad strategies are surprising. 

But looking at the recent history of the gambling advertising industry, it makes sense.

At first, the top players in this market— FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, and others—were bent on bringing more people into their apps. They did so by investing heavily in flashy campaigns, like when Caesars made a fleet of Ubers in Arizona look like chariots, or BetMGM received the first bet placed from space

It worked; the number of people betting on sports doubled in 2021.

In the process, however, many companies took a major loss. Competition for market share got so fierce, that David VanEgmond, former executive at FanDuel and Barstool Sportsbook, said, “You’ve seen the industry pull back and say, ‘Wow, fighting for market share got pretty ugly in terms of losses.”

Now, the customers are in the apps, and these companies are looking for an ROI on their marketing dollars—something traditional ads typically can’t deliver.

What does this mean for gambling advertisers in 2023? 

Folding their traditional ads and going all-in on digital. 

Traditional formats won’t be gone completely; given the industry’s close-knit ties to the NFL, Super Bowl ads have always been in play and will be again this year, with both FanDuel and DraftKings expected to dig deep into their pockets in Q1. 

DraftKings has even taken the NFL angle a step further by sponsoring Amazon Prime’s Thursday Night Football, allowing it to run TV-style commercials during the game.

But overall, in 2023 and beyond, we predict gambling advertisers will shift their mindsets from making as much noise as possible (regardless of cost) to making less noise, but in the ears of the right people.

Does that mean spending will stop? Absolutely not. But it will be much more thoughtful and expected to drive a hefty return.

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