DraftKings is diversifying its marketing push in Illinois.
On Wednesday, the sports gaming giant announced that it reached an agreement with Accel Entertainment to advertise at its 2,300-plus video gaming terminal (VGT) locations across the state.
Accel is a distributed gaming operator in Illinois. With this deal, Accel will promote DraftKings’ content across all its marketing channels, including the VGT display screens.
That content will feature advertising for DraftKings mobile sign-up, sports betting lines and promotions.
Ezra Kucharz, the chief business officer at DraftKings, said in a joint statement:
“This collaboration is a natural fit for us as Accel is a trusted brand who will provide on-the-ground support to complement our efforts in Illinois and beyond. We look forward to providing customers with more ways to engage with our exceptional content through Accel’s digital display screens.”
Despite the “penalty box” provision designed to limit DFS companies, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, they’ve been two of the first three online sportsbooks to launch in Illinois. DraftKings secured market access with Casino Queen in East St. Louis and rebranded as DraftKings at Casino Queen.
DK’s retail sportsbook has been open since early August.
Thanks to Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker‘s executive order, DraftKings has been taking online registrations and mobile bets since Aug. 21. Sports bettors in Illinois can register for DraftKings at Casino Queen Sportsbook at Accel locations online as long as the mobile registration mandate remains in place.
Video gaming terminals a hit in Illinois
The appeal for DraftKings is evident, as video gaming terminals are prevalent in the Prairie State.
As of June 30, Accel had 11,108 VGTs at its 2,300-plus video gaming locations. That accounts for almost a third of video gaming hubs in Illinois.
VGTs are present at bars, truck stops and other high-traffic areas. They were closed in Illinois due to the COVID-19 pandemic from March 16 through June 30 but reopened on July 1.
They’ve been popular ever since. In July, patrons played more than $2 billion worth of games, netting $166 million in total revenue for the terminals.
That’s in an environment where, in theory, there’s less foot traffic than usual. DraftKings figures to get in front of plenty of eyeballs with the deal.
It’s also worth noting that these patrons have shown a willingness to spend money on gaming.
“Sports betting is a social activity and bringing the leading DraftKings brand to our highly frequented local businesses will help those establishments win,” said Michael Marino, the chief commercial officer of Accel.
“Our players have also shown us their interest in sports betting through our free-to-play sports app AE.bet and, with this relationship, we are able to deliver them access to a best-in-class, real-money sports betting experience.”
No VGTs in Chicago, but does it matter?
Due to a city ordinance, there are no VGTs in Chicago.
Every gaming operator in the state will be curiously watching what happens before Sept. 19 with varying agendas. Because of its retail location in East St. Louis, there might not be any business rooting harder for the mobile registration extension than DraftKings.
Eventually, DraftKings will have a retail sportsbook presence at Wrigley Field; however, that’s likely a few years away. And, Illinois will likely have statewide mobile registration before then in 2021.
So, if Illinois returns to in-person registration, television ad buys in the Chicago market could prove fruitless for the time being.
We don’t know the terms of the DraftKings-Accel deal, but it appears to be a creative way to expose the brand to different types of customers outside of Chicago.
And if Pritzker extends remote registration, it could potentially trigger DraftKings sign-ups and bets at VGTs.