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The Celebrity Brand Ambassadors Shaping Online Casinos

Celebrities being associated with the gambling industry is nothing new. For over a decade, these have been utilised to great effect by gambling brands for a number of reasons, including as a way of enhancing their reputation and attracting new customers.

Brand ambassadors are common in marketing and advertising among businesses in multiple industries due to the numerous positive effects that they can have.

Initially, it was only mainly sports betting brands that used brand ambassadors, with these mainly being in the form of current or ex-sports stars, in order to attract relevant clientele.

In recent years, though, standalone casino brands and even social casinos, after witnessing the success that employing brand ambassadors can have, are now following suit. As such, more and more celebrities are promoting online casino brands.

Below, we have taken a look at some of the main celebrity faces that online casinos are working with and the details that are involved.

Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson

Earlier this month, former world heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson joined online gambling casino Rabona, which was a major signal of intent from the operator to send a statement to the rest of the Industry about its ambitions.

Rabona stands out with its commitment to offering an adrenaline-packed gaming journey. Just as I gave my all in the ring, I'm excited to bring that same intensity and spirit to the online gaming world with Rabona. Get ready for a gaming experience that packs a punch!

Mike TysonBrand Ambassador Casino Rabona

At Rabona, we're all about creating legendary experiences, and who better to represent us than a true legend himself, Mike Tyson! His dynamic presence and genuine love for gaming resonate deeply with our brand ethos. We're gearing up to offer our users a championship-level engagement powered by Tyson's electrifying energy.

Mike VariusPR Director Casino Rabona

Paris Hilton

Most recently, arguably, the world's most controversially famous socialite, Paris Hilton, agreed to team up with the social casino company Wow Vegas Casino in a bid to help further popularise the growing brand.

It is hoped that her considerable social media presence, with her being active both on Twitter and Instagram, can help to drive engagement with the firm's increasingly augmenting accounts.

Following the announcement that the Hilton heiress would agree to join, she released a statement on Instagram that read: "WOW Vegas is totally slaying with hundreds of amazing slot games!", which attracted considerable engagement that included 629 comments and a video of herself promoting the social casino.

Social casino brands are starting to become more and more popular in the US due to the fact that, although still needing to be 18 to visit the sites, it isn't considered actual gambling because players use gold coins to play games instead.

Johnny Vegas

In March 2023, it was revealed that the well-known British comedian Johnny Vegas had agreed to join up with the US-facing gambling brand Leo Vegas Casino. The Swedish-owned brand, which launched in the US in 2022, witnessed a swift uptake in visitors to the site following the deal due to the popularity of Johnny Vegas in the US.

The news was also greeted with delight by numerous Leo Vegas executives who recognised the comic as the perfect person to be able to help drive the gambling brand forward with his brash personality suitably fitting its ethos.

We're absolutely delighted to have Johnny on board for our marketing campaign, and we can't wait for everyone to see the new TV advert. Johnny's comedic background adds a different dimension to the marketing campaign, and he'll definitely help us take the gaming scene to another level

Shenaly AminCountry Manager LeoVegas

Andrew Luck

In a deal that somewhat sent reverberations around the US gambling scene at the time, former NFL player Andrew Luck, who made a name for himself at the Indianapolis Colts as quarterback, now represents the popular US online casino brand Bovada as brand ambassador.

It was news that was greeted with much enthusiasm, and as a result, it witnessed a significant increase in visitors and registrations to the site, thanks to Luck's almost 'rockstar' status.

At the time, this was a deal that was understood to be worth millions of dollars despite the amount still not being disclosed. Bovada has since quickly emerged as one of the most popular US online gambling brands, which has come as little surprise to many.

Rich Gannon & Eddie Alvarez

In the fall of 2021, it was revealed that US online casino brand Parx International had agreed to a lucrative deal with NFL and UFC stars Rich Gannon and Eddie Alvarez, respectively.

Gannon, who spent most of his time as a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders before joining the commentary team at US broadcaster CBS, helped to significantly raise the profile of the brand among the older target demographic, while Alvarez did the same for the younger generation. It was news that was met with a great deal of optimism in the company.

Associating with these two highly respected, well-known champions will continue our efforts as we witness the convergence of sports betting, sports content and social media. We are committed to being at the leading edge of this convergence to engage sports fans and provide them with the content they demand from the names they respect. Our newly formed digital media division is built to create fun and engaging bite-size content across not only sports but also across lifestyle, which helps our customers experience all the Parx Interactive brand has to offer.

Matthew CullenSenior Vice President Parx Interactive

Charles Barkley

In late 2020, US online casino site FanDuel announced news of its brand partnership with former NBA and one of the original 'Dream Team' stars, Charles Barkley, as the company prepared to enter a new era of its strategic direction.

Since then, the brand has gone from strength to strength, aided by its online casino marketing efforts and highly original campaigns, with Barkley positioned right at its epicenter.

Following news of the deal, then Chief Marketing Officer of FanDuel, Mike Raffensperger, revealed his delight at having agreed on this deal: "Charles Barkley is an American sports icon, a television legend and gaming royalty, so he's the perfect person to ring in the holidays for our customers. For the next few years, we look forward to amplifying his voice and adding Barkley's one-of-a-kind personality will continue to differentiate FanDuel".

Lionel Messi

In the summer of 2023, global footballing megastar Lionel Messi was hired by Hard Rock International Gaming Corporation as its brand ambassador, almost in line with the player's sensation switch to Inter Miami, the Florida-based MLS team.

It was a move by Hard Rock, which has seen its casino gain national recognition, resulting in a swift uptake in registrations.

Lionel Messi

James Blake

In 2021, it was revealed that the former US tennis star, James Blake, would join Rush Street Interactive to help with the promotion of its brands that includes the increasingly popular, social casino brand Casino4Fun.

Following the announcement of the deal, it was enthusiastically revealed by the CEO of RSI, Richard Schwarz: "RSI is proud to partner with a tennis great, a New York Times best selling author, and the 2008 recipient of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award."

The social casino brand has since grown considerably, especially to the highly engaged US audience which appears to be always on the lookout for differentiation.

Ryan Seacrest

It was revealed, with significant excitement, that at the end of last year, the A-list Hollywood personality Ryan Seacrest would become a brand ambassador and the face of the rapidly rising social casino brand, Chumba Casino.

Following news of the announcement, Seacrest responded to his considerable following on social media: "Who doesn't love games? I'm now excited to announce my partnership with Chumba to bring the fun home all year long, making it accessible and easy to all".

Meanwhile, this excitement did not end there, with seniority at the brand also sharing in this delight.

We were really pleased with how the Global Poker Celebrity Challenge was received, and we're equally excited about working with Ryan, which marks Chumba's most notable partnership with a celebrity to date. Ryan's not only obviously incredibly talented but has broad recognition and traits that align with our brand. I don't want to give too much away, but we have some pretty cool plans in this space across all our brands going forward.

David LyonsGeneral Manager Chumba Casino

Chris Rock

It was announced in September of last year that the popular online casino brand BetMGM had onboarded television personality Chris Rock as its brand ambassador in a bid to grow its popularity throughout the US on a wider scale.

Following the deal, Rock excitedly announced to his social media followers in a quick monologue: "We're BetMGM, and we know how to put on a show. That means we don't just get a boat. We get a gold boat with a lion in the Bellagio fountain! And we're here in the UK to make every game an occasion with tools to help you play safe. Get ready for the golden era in sports and casinos. BetMGM-It's Showtime!"

Meanwhile, a brand spokesperson shared this optimism while shedding further light on the arrangement, as they added: "The newly launched advertising campaign starring Chris Rock travelling in a gold speedboat from the Bellagio Fountains to the Thames is all about bringing entertainment to the UK betting industry, and introducing a new golden era in sports and online casino. As a certified gold standard Hollywood icon, Chris Rock and this campaign clearly demonstrates BetMGM's commitment to bringing a fresh and entertaining approach to the market."

What Will This Mean for the US Casino Industry?

One of the biggest observations from this is that it is only really in the last two years that brand ambassadors have become a growing fixture in the US online gambling market; however, this is understandable when considering that this has only really become regulated in certain states over the last few months.

Another trend that has been noticeable is that the increasingly growing social casino market is also jumping on this trend now. Certainly, these will be something to watch in the next few years, with those, who do already have brand ambassadors likely to become market leaders in this niche quite quickly.

As a result, it is fair to say that brand ambassadors are here to stay in the US online gambling industry, which is already proving that it has the potential to be the biggest and most lucrative in the world.

Brand ambassadors will understandably play a substantial part in this and are clearly already doing so. What will be interesting to see is whether there will be diversification in brand ambassadors in terms of how they are known, whether this be actors, sports stars, entrepreneurs or socialites.

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