Being the first sportsbook at an NFL stadium at the first Super Bowl in a legal sports betting state was bound to be a bit daunting.
In September 2022, the BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium became the first to open at an NFL venue, one that will host the Kansas City Chiefs against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII. From the minute the book opened outside Phoenix in Glendale, Arizona, the focus has been not just on providing a great user experience, but also about what this historic weekend would look like.
“No on knew what to expect. There were a lot of rumors over the summer,” Danielle Russell, BetMGM’s regional marketing manager, told Sports Handle. “It’s the first Super Bowl on an NFL campus [with legal wagering], so there are challenges all the way around. We’re just trying to make it a positive experience.”
That experience will be different than fans might expect. While the sportsbook is outside of the NFL’s purview during the regular season, it is inside the security perimeter for the Super Bowl, meaning the book will be closed Friday, Saturday, and Monday, and open only to those with Super Bowl tickets on Sunday from 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. local time.
Russell advised those placing in-person bets to cash out their tickets Sunday before leaving Arizona. Located on the Great Lawn, about 500 feet from the entrance to the stadium, the book will reopen to the public Tuesday.
Parking, logos, and staffing
Of the four biggest U.S. sportsbooks, BetMGM is the only one not to partner with the NFL, though it does have deals with many of its teams. As a result, BetMGM’s logos are not permitted on NFL-sanctioned broadcasts, including Sunday’s game. The logos that adorn the exterior of the state-of-the-art sportsbook will be covered up during the broadcast, though they have been uncovered all week.
The list of issues to solve has been long, including everything from where employees should park and how to staff the sportsbook to how to continue to create brand awareness during the days the book will be closed. The Arizona Cardinals, who have a partnership with BetMGM, have been instrumental in solving problems.
“Having the strength and passion of the Arizona Cardinals” has been critical, Russell said. “They like to say ‘yes,’ which is so phenomenal. It would not be the same experience without that support.”
Because the sportsbook is within the NFL’s event security zone, access to it had to be changed beginning Feb. 5. The entrance to the book is temporarily via Maryland Street. Beyond that, BetMGM had to set up parking shuttles because staff can’t park in their usual location.
The expectation is a full house Sunday, and that’s based on the fact that the book has been at capacity during regular NFL Sundays. On Sunday, it will be at full staff plus extra ticket-writing floaters to help with kiosks.
Going beyond the book
To keep itself in the mix on Friday and Saturday, BetMGM has partnered with the WestGate Entertainment District, which is adjacent to the sportsbook location, for a series of musical performances and a beer garden.
Called “West Fest,” the concert series features Marshmello and opening act NGHTMRE Friday starting at 6 p.m. local time, and Tim McGraw and Bailey Zimmerman Saturday at 6 p.m. Tickets for both events start at $69, with free parking available near the venue.
Best news… ever ⁉️ Just to see you smile… we’re giving you @TheTimMcGraw + @baileyzimmerman at the first-ever @BetMGM West Fest on Saturday, Feb 11 at 6pm! 🤠🏈🎶
🎟️ General admission tickets go on-sale Thursday 1/12 at 8am MT
Visit https://t.co/RmX3YcHEzE for info & tickets! pic.twitter.com/DapfeJk6D8
— WestgateEntDistrict (@Westgate_AZ) January 11, 2023
“West Fest came about because we would be displaced, so we were looking for some place to showcase our brand,” Russell said. “We already have a strong relationship with the WestGate people. We wanted to make something exclusive and intimate.”
The combination of McGraw and Marshmello gives BetMGM access to two completely different demographics, and the company will leverage those opportunities with activations and giveaways, both at the concerts and at a beer garden, which will be open Saturday. MGM and Westgate will donate a portion of proceeds from the beer garden to a local charity.
The concert-beer garden opportunities will be aimed at digital activations, and the BetMGM platform will be offering free play and multiple promotions around the Super Bowl, including a $100,000 Big Game Prop Bet Challenge, in which the winner gets up to $100,000 for correctly guessing the most props during the Super Bowl. New customers can take advantage of either a chance to bet at least $10 on the game and get $100 in bonus bets or get up to $1,000 back on a losing first bet.
According to the Sports Business Journal, BetMGM’s sportsbook is as close to the stadium as it can be in order to operate beyond the NFL’s regular-season reach. The league prohibits in-stadium sportsbooks from taking bets on game days, but the BetMGM sportsbook, with its Great Lawn location, does not meet that criteria.
The great @JayGlazer makes his triumphant return tonight for a very special edition of Unleashed LIVE from the BetMGM Sportsbook at State Farm Stadium with @OliviaDekker and @jerryferrara at 7 PM ET 🙌pic.twitter.com/3UMuTSHOpp
— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) February 7, 2023
Though the book will be closed on the two days ahead of the Super Bowl, it will play host to several BetMGM-sponsored sports and sports wagering broadcasts, as it has been doing all week. Russell said she’s “fielded a bunch” of calls from others interested in broadcasting from the space and has tried to accommodate them.
That said, there were challenges in doing that, including avoiding having the stadium in the background of any camera shots, covering up BetMGM logos, staying inside the building versus being on the patio, and not using the trademarked phrase “Super Bowl” in broadcasts.
Betting hot spot
Since it opened on Sept. 8, 2022, BetMGM’s State Farm Stadium sportsbook has been a hot spot for wagering. GeoComply said it processed more than 66,000 geolocation checks at or near the stadium during the opening weekend of the NFL season. That number, according to GeoComply, was the second most at any pro football stadium that weekend.
The sportsbook was the sixth in the country to open in or in the immediate proximity of a professional sports venue and the third in Phoenix, where Caesars Sportsbook has a location at Chase Field (and a temporary book in the Super Bowl media center this week) and FanDuel has a location at Footprint Center. Caesars also has an in-person wagering location at Arizona Downs.
GeoComply is anticipating a record-breaking amount of mobile wagering across the country for the Super Bowl after seeing a 50% annual increase in geolocation checks (more than 550 million) for the first two weeks of this year’s NFL playoffs. GeoComply expects to process more than 100 million checks for this year’s Super Bowl, compared to 80 million in 2022.