Choctaw Casinos Tap Texas Sports Legends for Advertising Campaign

Posted on: August 29, 2023, 12:48h. 

Last updated on: August 29, 2023, 11:02h.

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts, the gaming and hospitality arm of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, makes no secret about targeting Texans to keep its properties bustling. The tribe’s latest marketing ploy further highlights Texas’ importance to the financial success of the Choctaw casinos.

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts Texas Troy Aikman
Choctaw Casinos & Resorts has hired Darren Woodson, Troy Aikman, and Ivan Rodriguez for its next marketing campaign. All three are Texas sports legends. Choctaw casinos rely on Texas for about 80% of their customer traffic. (Image: Choctaw Casinos & Resorts)

The tribe opened its $600 million, 1,000-room hotel at its Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant in 2021. Located just 80 miles north of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area, the Choctaw casino benefits from Texas’ ban on slot machines.

The Choctaws also own and operate casino resorts in Pocola and Grant. Pocola sits just west of the Oklahoma-Arkansas border, while Grant is about 50 miles east of Durant, just north of the Texas state line.

The Choctaws this week announced a partnership with three Texas sports legends. Dubbed “Where the Players Play,” the advertising campaign stars NFL greats Troy Aikman and Darren Woodson, who both played for the Dallas Cowboys, and MLB Hall of Fame member Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, who spent the bulk of his career with the Texas Rangers. Aikman is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

Luring Texans North

Choctaw Casinos & Resorts said in a statement that the advertising campaign starring the three Texas sports legends is a multimillion-dollar deal that runs four years. The trio will serve as brand ambassadors of the Oklahoma tribal casinos.

The North Texas market is home to a large majority of our annual visitors, and we can’t wait to have these sports icons represent and celebrate the Choctaw brand,” said Janie Dillard, senior executive officer of the Choctaw Nation’s Commerce Division.

The “Where the Players Play” campaign will include television, social media, and radio adverts featuring the stars’ likenesses. Aikman, who grew up in Oklahoma and spent a year at the University of Oklahoma before transferring to UCLA, said he “couldn’t be more excited” to team up with Choctaw Casinos.

The Choctaws have leveraged Texas sports stars and teams to market its Oklahoma casinos for many years. Choctaw Casinos & Resorts has partnerships in place with the Texas Rangers, the NHL’s Dallas Stars, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and the PGA Tour’s AT&T Byron Nelson.

“With this investment in iconic North Texas athletes, the collaboration with Aikman, Rodriguez, and Woodson will land the Oklahoma-based brand at 24 sports-related partnerships in 2023,” a Choctaw statement read.

Gaming Remains on Hold

Texas lawmakers once again considered ending the state’s prohibition on commercial casinos and slot machines this year. But after a gaming bill passed the state House of Representatives in May, the statute was shelved in a Senate committee.

Las Vegas Sands has spent many millions of dollars in recent years lobbying Texas legislators to allow the company to come in and build a casino destination. Gaming support has seemingly grown, with one powerful backer being billionaire Mark Cuban.

The Mavericks owner and “Shark Tank” star said in May that Texas needs casinos to grow tourism and diversify the state’s hospitality offerings.

Ask your out-of-state friends how often they have saved up to bring their family to Texas. Ask anyone how often they look forward to coming here during the summer. You already know the answer,” Cuban told The Dallas Morning News.

Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t the only major metro in Texas that props up casinos in neighboring states. Houston is the primary feeder market for casinos in Louisiana’s Lake Charles.