There’s only room for one king in the Tennessee sports betting jungle, according to industry giant BetMGM.
The Las Vegas-based conglomerate marked its territory by claiming trademark infringement on two ads posted during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Local startup Action 24/7 is the focus of this accusation.
Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler stars in new Action 24/7 ads
Memphis wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler’s Twitter activity was the catalyst to the controversy.
Lawler’s tweets depicted him in traditional regal wrestling garb and a crown. The Action 24/7 logo and the words “The Real King of Sportsbooks” appeared beside him.
The ad was a play on BetMGM’s “King of Sportsbooks” campaign that launched back in September with front man Jamie Foxx.
Action 24/7 subsequently received a cease and desist letter from BetMGM attorney Lindsey A. Williams.
The letter emphasized that, when it comes to sports betting and mobile gaming, BetMGM owns extensive trademark rights to “The King of Sportsbooks”.
“Action 24/7 is advertising its sports betting platform using a nearly identical variation of the BetMGM Mark featured with imitating font, spacing, and coloring, and an overall substantially similar appearance.”
In conclusion, she said,
“Such promotional activities amount to trademark infringement, trademark dilution and/or unfair competition under the Lanham Act and applicable state law. Absent authorization, any use of the BetMGM Mark or a confusingly similar variation that misleads the public by creating a false association and/or suggests an affiliation or endorsement between BetMGM and Action 24/7 violates BetMGM’s federal and state trademark rights.”
BetMGM is on the prowl
Action 24/7 CEO Tina Hodges believes BetMGM doesn’t have a case, noting that Lawler has embraced his nickname “The King” for almost half a century. Moreover, his website kingjerrylawler.com nods to the title.
Hodges chalks the allegation up to “a classic case of a big international casino and hotel chain with a high-priced attorney sending a threatening letter to a hometown startup that they think will just be afraid.”
Action 24/7 happens to be the first unlucky victim in this big cat’s hunt.
BetMGM’s predator drive is more important than ever for maintaining the lion’s share of Tennessee’s digital market. That market seems to be a big one, with bettors wagering over $27 million in the first eight days alone.
While the cease and desist instigated debate, the startup may have still benefited.
The free press from the accusations may prove to be more rewarding than the ads themselves.