Video Game Barry Sanders Returns As Part Of BetMGM Sportsbook Promotion

Written By Matt Schoch on September 8, 2021

We’ve been waiting to see what form the BetMGM Sportsbook partnership with Barry Sanders would take.

Now, with his former team just days away from another season kickoff, we’re seeing how the brand will use the Detroit Lions icon in marketing, including the return of Video Game Barry.

It’s part of BetMGM’s NFL opening week rollout. They’re pulling out all the stops for Michigan sports betting customer acquisition, including unmatched ties to the Lions.

Sanders, who also was on hand for the opening of FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino before he signed with BetMGM, is as big a name as it gets in this state. It’s another signal of just how important Michigan is to the national sports betting market.

BetMGM’s free-to-play ‘8-Bit Barry’ Sanders game gives weekly prizes

Although not quite as iconic as Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl, several Michigan sports bettors of a certain age likely recall also using Sanders as a mainstay for the Nintendo classic (and also the early Madden football video games).

BetMGM is tapping into that Sanders nostalgia with 8-Bit Barry, a weekly free-to-play contest that has a Tecmo Bowl look to it.

There, players can guess each week whether video game Sanders should spin, juke or stiff arm his defender for the score. If they guess right, players can receive free bets, bonuses or other experiential prizes (to be announced later).

As of Wednesday morning, the game was not yet live.

Notably, the promotional campaign is a little like one Sanders nixed last year as Eastern Market Brewing featured a digitized (and unauthorized) Sanders on the cans of its Same Old Lager.

‘King of the Weekend’ also among strong BetMGM Week 1 promotions

Detroit Lions all-time great running back Barry Sanders features in multiple BetMGM Sportsbook promotions this NFL season. (Screengrab from BetMGM Sportsbook website)

The non-video game (aka real-life) form of Barry Sanders is also pictured alongside another contest in the BetMGM Promotions section. That one is called King of the Weekend, in which players compete for $50,000.

To win, guess the weekend’s top six scoring NFL teams in the correct order. Even if no one guesses all six correctly, $1,000 will be awarded each week to the customer who makes the most correct predictions.

Other BetMGM promotions this week include:

  • $20 of free Week 1 bets: BetMGM has dropped $20 of free wagers into every account for Week 1. We received $10 for Thursday action and will receive another $10 bet for any Sunday game.
  • One-Game Parlay Bet & Get: Another promotion that’s popular with major operators features the chance to parlay elements from the same game, which used to be a non-starter. For NFL Weeks 1-3, make a $25 one-game parlay wager and receive a $10 live bet for college football.
  • BetMGM REDZONE Challenge: Talk about grabbing repeat customers. BetMGM is giving different missions to players each week to progress through the REDZONE. Some of the missions include placing a one-game parlay or hitting a specific prop.

BetMGM partnership with Lions also taking shape

BetMGM is one of two Michigan sports betting operators to have announced partnerships with the Lions, joining WynnBET Sportsbook.

The deal puts BetMGM front and center at Ford Field, where fans will return Sunday for the season opener against San Francisco. BetMGM is also featured on broadcast promotions for local radio.

The brand’s downtown hotel partner also has a presence at Ford Field, as the MGM Grand Detroit Tunnel Club is back. Lions Bingo has MGM Grand Detroit prizes available from the team app.

On the BetMGM online platform, Lions fans can also earn some branded gear by making sports bets or playing online casinos and poker. Opt in and wager $100 to earn two beer koozies. Then, $950 in wagers will net a stainless steel tumbler. A total of $1,300 in bets will earn a sherpa blanket.

Qualifying players will receive an inbox message with instructions in how to pick up your prize(s).

BetMGM Casino has Detroit Lions Blackjack and Detroit Lions Roulette available if you want to keep the theme going here to earn those prizes.

Hail Mary action coming in on the Detroit Lions

Overzealous fans placing long-shot futures on the Lions happens every season like clockwork.

And who knows, maybe this is the year.

According to BetMGM on Wednesday, one Lions bettor will score big if head coach Dan Campbell wins big in his first season.

Among the notable bets announced by the bookmaker this week included a $1,000 wager on the Lions to win the NFC. The +10000 odds bet would pay off to the tune of $100,000.

The Lions are also the second-most bet on team to make the playoffs in terms of ticket count, behind only Denver. It’s worth pointing out that Colorado is another legal online sports betting state where BetMGM has gained traction.

So, you know … good luck with those bets!

No fear: Jamie Foxx is back on your TV

We saw less of Jamie Foxx here in Michigan this summer, but he’s back in a big way this fall.

The BetMGM Sportsbook pitchman was all over our sets since before the January launch of online sports betting, and that presence carried through the spring.

With the sports calendar lull this summer, we saw fewer ads.

But with football back, there’s another season of Jamie Foxx ads already here. “Win Like A King” is the new theme this year, with spots created by BetMGM along with agency 72andSunny New York.

Expect to see plenty of J.B. Smoove hawking Caesars Sportsbook as well, in addition to FanDuel and DraftKings ads that have long dominated airwaves.

The NFL has partnered with BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox Bet, PointsBet and WynnBET as approved operators for in-game advertising.

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Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

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