Caesars Takes More Aggressive Actions in Effort to Be Louisiana Sports Betting King

Caesars Entertainment made a couple of eye-opening moves in Louisiana over the weekend in an effort to give the Las Vegas-based gaming giant a leg up on its competition when sports betting officially launches in the state.

Caesars sports betting
Caesars sports betting
LSU wide receiver Deion Smith catches a touchdown pass in Saturday’s home game against Central Michigan. The day before, the school and Caesars Entertainment announced a partnership agreement making the gaming company an official sponsor of the school’s athletics program. (Image: LSU Football/Twitter)

The first occurred Friday when Louisiana State University announced Caesars Sportsbook as the official sports betting partner for the school’s athletics program. It’s the third such partnership in the country between a college and a gaming company and by far the most high-profile one to date.

LSU plays in the Southeastern Conference, considered the top Division I conference in the NCAA, and the Tigers are one of the country’s top college football programs. Its stadium, which seats more than 102,000 fans is one of the largest in the world.

LSU Athletics Director Scott Woodward said in a joint statement that the Tigers have always sought to offer its rabid fanbase “unique, innovative, and world-class” opportunities. The partnership with Caesars, he said, just adds to that.

We share a clear vision of how athletics and entertainment can come together to enhance the fan experience, and we are excited to join with Caesars to make that vision a reality,” he said.

Like most partnerships between sportsbooks and teams, the Caesars-LSU will give the gaming company marketing opportunities and branding rights. That includes signage throughout Tiger Stadium and naming rights to the Skyline Club. The deal also extends to all 21 intercollegiate sports programs. Sportsbook customers will also get access to LSU events through Caesars Rewards.

LSU will get an undisclosed financial contribution from Caesars. In addition, the gaming company will establish a scholarship fund for in-state students majoring in sports administration, commerce, and leadership. Caesars has also agreed not to market to students or Tigers fans under the age of 21. The company also won’t market gaming promotions inside LSU campus buildings.

Caesars Lands Major Louisiana Media Deal

Then on Sunday, The Advocate, the state’s largest daily newspaper, unveiled Bet.NOLA.com, a new website devoted to sports betting. The paper announced that Caesars would provide up-to-date odds as well as a special prop bet just for the site’s audience.

“Through collaborative content, we will bring sports fans closer to the games they love delivering fun, engaging, and timely updates to keep readers apprised on what’s happening in the sports world,” said Chris Holdren, co-president of Caesars Digital.

Media partnerships aren’t necessarily new for sports betting operators. However, nearly all of those to date have been national in scope. The Caesars deal is one of first with a local scope.

The Advocate, a Baton Rouge-based publication whose owner purchased The New Orleans Times-Picayune a couple of years ago, also announced that its Bet.NOLA site would host three weekly shows. The weekly football show will also provide details on how bettors are wagering upcoming LSU and New Orleans Saints games.

Just as with LSU, Caesars also has a partnership with the NFL Saints. In July, the company acquired naming rights to the Louisiana Superdome.

The Bet.NOLA show will also feature a weekly segment with political pundit James Carville, who will also offer his own picks. The site will hold a contest and award prizes for those who can beat him.

The announcement did not indicate if Mary Matalin was eligible to compete

Louisiana Moves Made to Bolster Sports Betting Performance

Caesars operates five casinos in Louisiana. However, in other states where it has a dominant gaming position, such as Indiana, the company has not had much success in translating that into sports betting success.

In the Hoosier State, Caesars runs three of the top four revenue-producing casinos. However, its sports betting operation ranks fourth as BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel absorb most of the market. In August, those three accounted for about 72 percent of the activity.

However, there are some key differences between Louisiana and Indiana that could portend a better result in the bayou. For starters, the merger talks between the old Caesars and Eldorado Resorts were still ongoing as Indiana launched sports betting. That merger, which also led to the acquisition and rebranding of William Hill’s US operations, had some impact.

There’s also a timing issue. Indiana allowed its first bet in September 2019, with online going live about a month later. DraftKings and FanDuel were two of the first apps available in the state, and BetMGM went up in February 2020. While William Hill (now, Caesars Sportsbook) established a retail presence early, it did not launch mobile until late last October. Caesars did operate another online book, but that did not generate much traffic.

A unified Caesars should be able to roll out its Louisiana app around the same time as other operators. With the company’s recent moves, Caesars’ name recognition should be fairly high by the time licenses are issued.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Hurricane Ida forced a delay in issuing temporary licenses. Last month, former Louisiana Gaming Control Board Chair Ronnie Jones predicted the first bets would likely be made by the end of football season.

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