Gambling Ads Virtually Non-Existent During Super Bowl Broadcast

Written By Dave Briggs on February 12, 2024 - Last Updated on February 13, 2024
Andy Reid with Vince Lombardi trophy. A PlayCanada analysis found only 2.9% of the ads shown during the 2024 Super Bowl were for Ontario sportsbooks — and all but one were for FanDuel.

So much for the theory that Canadians are inundated with gambling ads during sporting events.

A PlayCanada analysis found that during the biggest sporting event of them all — yesterday’s Super Bowlgambling ads were practically non-existent during the 4 1/2-hour CTV broadcast.

Of the 175 ads shown between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., only five — six if you count FanDuel’s Gronk kick ball promotion — were gambling spots. That’s just 2.9% of the total ads shown.

The volume of gambling ads in Canada has produced a hue and cry ever since a regulated Ontario sports betting market opened in April of 2022. But where is the outrage over the deluge of Super Bowl ads promoting TV shows or streaming services in the CTV family (21.7%) or financial companies (14.3%) or telecommunications companies (9.1%)?

Bar chart showing 2024 Super Bowl ads shown in Canada by category

Worse, where’s the condemnation of Bell Canada Enterprises-owned brands, which accounted for 42 of the ads — a whopping 35.7% — on the same week Bell Media announced the layoff of 4,800 employees?

We can draw two main conclusions from the Super Bowl Bell-a-pooloza:

  1. Bell doubled down on an optically-awful week by “spending” lavishly on a truckload of Super Bowl ads the same week it eliminated thousands of employees OR
  2. The fact Bell had to use over one-third of the Super Bowl spots for its own brands supports the company’s suggestion it is having financial trouble in its media division which might justify some of the layoffs (despite the company making a profit of nearly $3 billion in 2023).

bar chart showing 2024 Super Bowl ads Bell vs. Gambling

Yes, the NFL limits the number of gambling ads, but…

As for gambling ads, that was always going to be muted.

As Gaming News Canada reported last week, the NFL caps gambling ads to no more than 5% of the total ads shown during a game.

Still, gambling ads only accounted for a little more than half of that cap during the Super Bowl.

League partner FanDuel took all the spots except for one. BetMGM Sportsbook did run its Vince Vaughan/Tom Brady spot in Canada during halftime.

Five total Super Bowl ads is hardly the endless gambling-ad onslaught we keep hearing about in the mainstream media.

Some important provisos about the numbers

First, we acknowledge that we did not track the gambling ads prior to 6 p.m. Our sister site, PlayMichigan, found that gambling ads were much more prevalent between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. on the US Super Bowl broadcast on CBS. Though, gambling ads were similarly scarce during the game.

Also, this was the last NFL game of the season. So, most of the marketing was aimed at attracting handle and new customers prior to the Super Bowl. That makes some sense.

Still, advertising during the Super Bowl was a prime opportunity to reach potential new sports betting clients. And the cost of Super Bowl ads in Canada is a pittance of their price in the US.

The most recent public figures we could find for the cost of Super Bowl ads in Canada comes from 2020. That year, they were sold for around $197,000 for a 30-second spot. The US cost that year was $5.6 million — 28 times higher. This year, US ads sold for $7 million apiece. Based on the 2020 disparity, we estimate this year’s ads were probably priced at about $250,000 apiece in Canada.

For that, admittedly, premier price, one gets a lot of eyeballs, even in Canada. An average of 8.6 million of Canada’s some 40 million people watched the 2023 Super Bowl.

The good, bad and the ugly of the gambling ads

FanDuel gets serious kudos for going with a responsible gambling ad first up in the first quarter. But, some of their later spots earned a mixed reaction.

The Gronk “Kick of Destiny” event was held before kickoff. But, in Canada, the FanDuel ad shown after the responsible gambling one was an ad previewing the Kick of Destiny that had already happened. That’s not great attention to detail FD.

In the second quarter, a FD ad looked back on the earlier kick. It also was a tribute to Gronk’s late co-star Carl Weathers. This one was a winner.

Then, in the fourth quarter, FanDuel went with one of its John Goodman-narrated ads. This one was talking about there being no “garbage time” in sports betting. This despite the last game of the year being in the dying moments. Not sure about the placement on that one, but it’s a good spot.

Bottom line, nine ad categories — from TV shows to cars to restaurants to banks — had a higher volume of Super Bowl ads than the gambling industry.

Perhaps the age of gambling ads ad naseum has finally waned.

Photo by Eric Gay / AP Photo
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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