Despite Partnership, Hard Rock Bet Ads A Rare Sight During Panthers Playoff Run

Written By Steve Schult on June 18, 2024
The Florida Panthers bench during the 2024 Stanley Cup Final

In mid-April, the Seminole Tribe inked a marketing deal for their online sportsbook with the Florida Panthers.

They finalized the multi-year partnership just before the NHL playoffs and the Panthers’ first-round in-state battle against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Fast forward two months. South Florida’s pro hockey franchise is just a single win away from its first Stanley Cup championship.

But despite the Panthers’ prolonged primetime television exposure as the team went deep into the playoffs, the Seminole Tribe didn’t get many eyes on Hard Rock Bet Florida.

Television elements of deal weren’t implemented

The partnership included five key marketing pieces for the sportsbook. Those included:

  • Digital branding
  • Marquee signage
  • On-site activations
  • Digitally enhanced dasherboards
  • Online promotions (starting in the 2024-25 season)

Of those five elements, the dasherboards are the only one used during a television broadcast. Thus, most of the deal won’t get more eyes on the brand from the television audience.

On the other hand, the dasherboards are a key piece of modern marketing in the NHL.

The walls that enclose the ice rink, called “boards” by hockey fans, are littered with advertisements. However, those are not the same advertisements seen by the television audience while the puck is in play.

Instead, they see the digitally enhanced dasherboards. The system allows for a digital replacement of the ads on the boards.

A viewer can see the real ads during the game when the puck isn’t in play. For example, if the teams are lining up for a face-off and the camera shot will show the real advertisements on the boards.

Once the puck is dropped and the action resumes, the camera angle will change and the dasherboard system resumes.

Despite that, Bally’s Sports Florida didn’t display Hard Rock bet dasherboards during local broadcast of a first-round game.

The most likely explanation for this is that other companies already had deals in place for this year. Bally’s probably needs those deals to expire before Hard Rock Bet ads can be displayed.

Local broadcasts were only available for the first round

Even if Bally’s implemented the dasherboards this year, they would’ve only been seen during first-round games. The second round, conference finals and Stanley Cup Final were only available on national broadcasts.

Those national broadcasts won’t honor regional deals made by individual teams and businesses.

Therefore, most of the playoff broadcasts would be identical to what they already aired.

What Hard Rock branding was on the broadcast?

The Hard Rock Bet on the Bally’s Sports broadcast

In short, not much.

A Hard Rock Bet ad aired during two of the broadcasts’ commercial breaks. A Seminole Casino Coconut Creek ad on the boards was also visible in camera shots during a break in the action.

Lastly, when they returned from a commercial break, the Hard Rock logo was located in the corner of the screen.

It’s very likely this will be incredibly different during a potential Panther playoff push in 2025.

Other sportsbooks dominated ad space

The most interesting part of the Bally Sports Florida broadcast wasn’t so much the absence of Hard Rock Bet. It was the appearance of other sportsbook ads not available in Florida.

Betway Sportsbook and ESPN BET lined the rink’s boards. Both sportsbooks had ads on the physical boards, as well as digitally enhanced dasherboards.

Betway is available in nine states, while the PENN-owned ESPN BET is available in 18. Neither is an option in the Florida sports betting market.

The ESPN BET ads could be a case of accidental foreshadowing.

PENN Entertainment shareholders are reportedly pushing for a sale. Hard Rock International, the corporate entity of the Seminole Tribe, is rumored to be a potential buyer.


Photo by AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell
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Steve Schult

As Managing Editor of PlayFL, Steve will stay on top of all things related to the Florida gaming industry. He is also a veteran of the gambling world. The native New Yorker started covering high-stakes tournaments in 2009 for some of poker's most prominent media outlets before adding the broader U.S. gaming market to his beat in 2018.

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