Four sportsbook operators were granted licences on January 8th to open for online gambling business in the state of New York. This was seen as a huge announcement for the industry, and excitement in those circles increased further when an additional two were allowed to open for business ahead of the Super Bowl on February 13th.
New Yorkers wagered a staggering $150 million in the opening weekend of mobile sports betting being legalised, while according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), Americans bet over $8 billion on the Super Bowl; a 78% increase compared to 12 months ago.
It’s no wonder that, in the digital world, sportsbooks, affiliates and tipsters are looking for additional support and resources in 2022 in order to capitalise on the opportunity.
According to Action Network, Wisconsin, Missouri, Kansas and Kentucky could open up for online business in the next few months, while activists are pushing hard to add massive states in the shape of California and Florida to this ever-increasing list in 2023 and beyond.
There is huge potential for this growing online market, and that’s why so many US-led operators are scouting the digital landscape for opportunities in the worlds of digital PR, content, on-site & off-site SEO and beyond.
Within SEO, one of the key battlegrounds will undoubtedly be Digital PR.
Digital PR is a methodology that utilises traditional PR tactics such as creative campaign planning and journalist-relations to gain coverage in the media.
The SEO aspect is in how these campaigns are used to earn backlinks from high-authority sites, to signal to Google (and bettors) that your site is trustworthy, reliable and deserving of higher search engine rankings.
In a market where competition is so high, and many media outlets are controlled or sponsored by sportsbooks, how do we earn backlinks on high quality websites with Digital PR?
Different markets call for different tactics. One thing that we always stress to our clients (current and new), is the importance of brand relevance, and gaining links in a space where their potential readers are looking.
That doesn’t necessarily mean gambling-specific content, but often broadening the horizons to assess different angles surrounding topics with an appropriate amount of crossover.
This is particularly the case where publications may have existing relationships with gaming brands - the stories offered must be irresistible, and broad enough to earn coverage in a wider pool of publication types in order to de-risk campaigns, and drive SEO forward.
Despite the rollout of legal online sports betting in many states, it still remains a taboo subject in many US households, while many of the top US publishers in the sporting space have deals in place with sportsbooks (or have launched their own)- FanSided being one key example of this.
They have sections and reporters for most major US sports teams, but are highly unlikely to give you that all important link as they created ‘BetSided’ last year, and are extremely keen to keep ‘competitors’ of any description at arm’s length for the time being.
More than this, it’s no secret that the US journalism market faced a crash between 2004-2019, with 1,800 local newspapers reportedly closing. On top of that, over 100 newsrooms have shut down since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago.
This means fewer publications to target with our outreach, and increasingly stressed journalists looking for exceptional stories and campaigns to stand out in their overflowing inboxes.
It’s important to be creative and wise to the situations around you- gaining links on NFL pages during the football season, where there is often less than a seven-day gap between matches, is extremely tough.
The same applies to the NBA and MLS, where that period of time is often even lower.
The SEO impact can’t be ignored- experts will point towards the importance of rankings for certain words, whether it be ‘NFL tips’ or ‘NFL predictions- what sort of campaigns can you run that tie into those key terms? Is it sports interviews, heavy sets of historical data, or something else?
How can we use what we have to target different industry outlets? Money and sport is often a big talking point, the activity/preferences of fans often makes for good lifestyle content, while wider issues such as sustainable stadiums, hygienic facilities and social media activity can also appeal to general news reporters and publications.
It’s important to personalise your content, too. Make it relevant and ensure that the findings of your work have an angle that matters to your reporter contacts.
The likes of Fox, ABC and radio stations have plenty of websites to target in different states, while many writers will cover niche subjects and frequently welcome data and press releases if it is presented in a strong, easy-to-understand format.
If you’re covering a sports story with an entertainment angle, assess whether facts and figures surrounding the Kardashian family are relevant to NBA beat reporters who are courtside reporting on the actual games every two or three days.
41-46 states are expected to have legal sports betting facilities in place by 2025, and with many of those states including some of the biggest NFL, NBA and MLS teams in the business, this really is the time to strike for so many sports gambling-focused companies in the US and Canada.