Sports Betting Is Coming to a Driving Range Near You

Eben Novy-Williams
·3 min read

TopGolf and BetMGM are partnering to make sports betting more prominent, and perhaps more accessible, at driving ranges across the country.

The multi-year agreement covers TopGolf locations in states where BetMGM operates. That currently includes driving ranges in Las Vegas, Nashville, Detroit and Denver, a list that will grow as more states legalize gambling.

Sportsbooks are currently in a massive land-grab for market share, and partnering with media companies, local teams and stadiums is a common way to reach those most likely to wager on games. BetMGM, a 50-50 joint venture between MGM Resorts and Entain, has done many of those partnerships, but has also looked further afield in deals with Buffalo Wild Wings and now TopGolf.

“You don’t only need those flashy media partnerships, whether it be CBS, ESPN, or others,” said Kyle Wachtel, BetMGM’s head of partnerships. “There are a lot of other means. And overall there’s a natural alignment and fit between our brands and our audiences. There’s a lot we can do together.”

That will start with BetMGM branding at TopGolf locations. Later on, the two companies will integrate parts of their rewards programs—bettors might earn TopGolf credit for completing actions on the BetMGM app, as an example. They’ll also work together on TopGolf’s augmented-reality games, which use ball-tracking software to place the shots you hit at the range into a video-game screen next to your mat.

Once a start-up aimed at serious golfers, TopGolf now builds entertainment complexes that also appeal to those who have never swung a club. Its locations have sports bars, restaurants, arcades and mini-golf courses. Some even have their own music venues.

The partnership will grow as more states legalize sports betting. BetMGM will expand into those new jurisdictions and therefore integrate with more TopGolf venues.

“We’re in a fragmented a landscape,” Wachtel said. “It’s very much state by state, so it’s important to find partnerships that can scale alongside our own expansion.”

MGM Resorts and Entain, formerly GVC Holdings, created BetMGM in 2018. In a recent presentation following its full year results, MGM said the joint venture had about 17% of the combined U.S. sports betting and iGaming market in jurisdictions where it’s active.

There is already a corporate relationship between TopGolf and MGM Resorts. TopGolf’s Las Vegas location is at the MGM Grand. There are also TopGolf swing suites in other MGM properties, such as MGM Grand Detroit.

For now there will be no physical sportsbooks inside any TopGolf locations. Wachtel said that outside of Nevada, where the TopGolf venue is already on casino property, no states where BetMGM operates would allow that. He declined to provide details on the financial structure of the deal.

TopGolf generated roughly $1.1 billion in revenue in 2019. Last October, the company announced it was combining with club manufacturer Callaway in an all-stock transaction that valued the TopGolf at approximately $2 billion. It had a previous sports betting partnership with PointsBet in New Jersey.

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