Monday night isn’t just a big night for the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. It’s also a big night for Betfred.
Monday also marks the second day for live legal sports betting in Ohio, which just happens to be the site of one of the biggest NFL regular season games and a possible playoff preview.
There are several online sports betting apps that will be available for bettors to choose. But only one will have its brand showcased inside Paycor Stadium for the crowd and the national television audience to see.
That’s Betfred, the British-based bookmaker. It’s currently active in nine US states, and Bryan Bennett, Betfred’s US COO, told Casino.org the company has plans for Ohio to be its flagship state.
We want Ohio to be our top market,” he said Sunday during a launch party at Fowling Warehouse in Cincinnati. “We made a big bet here and a big investment. And we’re going to be aggressive.”
While it’s one of the larger bookmakers in the United Kingdom, Betfred finds itself far behind the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel in states where it operates. It generated some publicity in recent months after it was one of the books to take a Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale wager on the Houston Astros. That cost Betfred $5 million after the Astros won the World Series. That likely gave it more exposure (both the positive marketing kind and the negative financial kind) than it had before in the States.
Now, the operator hopes to parlay its partnership with one of the NFL’s hottest teams for even more exposure. Again, that could work both ways. The Bengals have the second-longest active winning streak in the NFL at seven games, and are becoming a trendy pick to win the Super Bowl after making a surprising run to the championship game last season.
At Betfred as of Monday afternoon, the Bengals have 8-1 odds to win next month’s Super Bowl. That’s the fifth choice on the board, with the Bills the favorite at +390.
Bennett said McIngvale has reached out about possibly coming up to the area, and he said Betfred would take a bet.
“I would prefer not to be in a position where I have to root against the Bengals in the Super Bowl,” Bennett said with a smile. “I really want them (to win), even though it will cost us money. Even on a casual bettor level, I know it is, but you can’t buy that kind of publicity.”
Getting the Name Out
Betfred’s association with the Bengals officially began in July, when the company and the team announced they would partner for an online sports betting license in Ohio. Since then, Betfred has worked to develop a high-profile presence in Cincinnati, one of the state’s largest cities with a metropolitan population of roughly 2.3 million.
A big part of that has been to build awareness of the brand at Bengals home games this season. There’s signage for Betfred behind the north end zone and on the stadium’s south end video scoreboard, and the company has sponsored pregame tailgating areas throughout the year. It’s also a sponsor for one of the main entrance gates into the stadium.
Betfred hosted a New Year’s Eve party at the Moerlein Lager House located in The Banks, a development between the Bengals’ Paycor Stadium and the Reds’ Great American Ball Park. That party also celebrated the company’s official launch in the state right after midnight.
Revelers were also watching the Georgia-Ohio State Peach Bowl game, which was also concluding as the countdown to 2023 wound down. Ohio State ended up losing when it missed a last-second field goal try.
“Half the bar went nuts, and half the bar was crying,” Bennett said.
Betfred took its first bet in Ohio just moments later, he added.
“We Need to Own Cincinnati”
On Sunday afternoon, as a full slate of NFL games were broadcast, Betfred hosted another event at Fowling Warehouse, where people could play a game where you try to knock down pins by throwing a football. There, the operator also held a sports betting competition and gave away bonus bets and Bengals tickets.
Second stop in Cincinnati today is at Fowling Warehouse for @BetfredSports Ohio launch party.
What is Fowling? It’s a combination of football & bowling, with maybe a bit of cornhole as well pic.twitter.com/EuwaqhMnH0
— Steve Bittenbender (@CasinoOrgSteveB) January 1, 2023
And on Monday night, Betfred plans to have representatives on the streets around Paycor to help fans download the app and register to bet on the game.
While Ohio is the fourth-largest state by population to usher in legalized sports betting, Betfred has focused its efforts on the Cincinnati area for the time being. That, Bennett said, has been by design from the beginning.
We like the community,” he said. “We feel like we can punch above our weight here, and it’s going to be our base of operations in Ohio. It doesn’t mean we’re going to ignore Columbus and Dayton and Cleveland, but we believe strongly we need to own Cincinnati.”
Even with the launch completed, Betfred’s not planning to leave the area anytime soon, and not just because the Bengals may get to host a playoff game or two in the coming weeks.
The company is also looking at possibly building a hub office in The Queen City. Bennett said the company has been flying staff members in from Las Vegas, a move “that’s not sustainable,” he added.
A possible Cincinnati office would also help Betfred’s efforts in Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states, like Iowa and Pennsylvania, where it’s already licensed. The company also has pending launches in Maryland and Virginia and is eyeing licenses in other states east of the Mississippi River.
“We have a lot of opportunity in this area,” Bennett said.
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