Rod Smith, the Super Bowl-winning former wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, is getting in on the sports betting game: He's now chief brand ambassador with Denver Sports Betting, a local sports betting analysis website.
"Everybody thinks they know every game, who's going to win, who's going to score how many points. Now you can put your money where your mouth is," says Smith, who has called Colorado home since he was signed by the Broncos in 1994. Smith went on to win two Super Bowls with the team and is a member of the Broncos Ring of Honor.
As chief brand ambassador, Smith will be involved in marketing content for Denver Sports Betting, including private dinners with fans who win the company's various competitions.
"For me, it's about taking that business and making that business so fun that everyone wants to be a part of it," Smith says. "We can celebrate people winning."
For Denver Sports Betting, which pitches itself as "the lone media outlet in Colorado dedicated solely to sports betting," recruiting Smith made sense, since he's a local legend in a sport that's expected to draw the most revenue for casinos and sports betting companies. The Broncos, too, recognize that football will be the focus of much legal sports betting, which is why they've struck a deal with BetMGM, allowing the gambling company to promote itself inside Empower Field at Mile High in a space that has a "full-service premium bar, a luxury lounge, live odds and assistance with BetMGM's mobile app."
But with major American sports leagues on a COVID-19-induced hiatus, the top-grossing sports for betting in May and June, the first months of legal sports gambling in Colorado, has been table tennis.
"The entire world has completely changed in the last seven months, eight months," says Smith. "This is a way for us to come out of it. ... We need some friendly competition in the world away from all that craziness."
Despite the fact that Major League Baseball is struggling during the first few weeks of playing games during the pandemic, Smith believes that the NFL season will "absolutely" take place. "There's billions of dollars at stake, and they'll do what they have to do," he says, adding that "sports bring people together."
If the 2020 NFL season actually takes place, Smith envisions a local fan base that becomes thoroughly invested in sports betting. Broncos lovers are "some of the loudest and craziest, in a good way, for their team," he says. "If you put something in a parking lot, put it on tape, we're going to show up. We've always been that way."
But as sports betting in Colorado increases the interest in sports across the board, it could affect fan behavior. "Some people, they're going to bet with their wallet instead of their heart," Smith admits. "I can definitely see people being loyal to their cash."
Smith considers the Broncos a good bet this year, and not just because he was a member of the team during winning seasons. "We have high expectations," he says. "I think it's a good time to shock the world. People didn't plan for the Broncos to win it all, so now it's the time to do it."
Colorado voters approved legalizing sports betting last November, setting up a framework that allows for both mobile betting and in-person wagering at casinos in Colorado's three gaming towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Casino winnings are taxed at 10 percent, with the vast majority of that tax revenue going to the Colorado Water Plan.
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