FanDuel Uses Deepfake of Charles Barkley In New Responsible Gambling Ad

Grant Mitchell
Grant Mitchell


  • Charles Barkley is pictured sitting next to another Charles Barkley from the 1990s
  • Barkley struggled with a gambling addiction and is now spreading the message of responsible gambling
  • FanDuel had a $10 million promotion with Rob Gronkowski during the Super Bowl

FanDuel is using new technology to pair the modern Charles Barkley with a younger version of himself in its newest ad campaign.

The commercial is considered a deepfake, which is a video in which a person’s face has been altered to represent someone else. In this case, that person carries the same name but is around 25 years younger, which is when Barkley was at the peak of his athletic prime.

The ad is part of FanDuel’s “Think Like a Player” campaign. It depicts Barkley, the 1993 MVP and now a popular television analyst, encouraging bettors to “think like a player” when they are loading up their favorite sportsbooks.

You can watch the commercial below:

All about the new ad

FanDuel, a betting partner of the NBA, is the leader in American sports betting and is ramping up its offerings with the imminent arrival of the NBA playoffs.

Although Barkley may have failed to capture the ultimate trophy of the NBA postseason, he was also a victim of a gambling addiction during his playing days. He revealed that he lost up to a million dollars at least 10-20 times, and his losses supposedly nestled at an extreme of $30 million.

With better control over his impulses, Barkley is helping to warn against problematic behavior and spread the message of responsible gambling.

“We’re excited to tap into the energy of the NBA playoffs as well as the fanhood for Charles,” said FanDuel’s executive vice president of marketing, Andrew Sneyd, in a statement. “This campaign will not only cement FanDuel’s place in the conversation of brands that are adding to the sports experience but continue to give us the opportunity to flex our creative muscle and demonstrate how we’re reaching our target audience in unique ways.”

The 30-second ad features an explanation from Barkley on how to use FanDuel’s mobile app during the NBA playoffs. He also cracks a joke about how he wishes that he could bet on the 1990s version of himself, although the younger Barkley seems more amazed by the modern version’s age.

Sports from the commercial made their first appearance on the airwaves during the play-in tournament and will return for the conference finals. The full ad will be played during the NBA Finals and will go hand-in-hand with a registration offer for new FanDuel bettors.

FanDuel trends and outlook

FanDuel taking the big-name celebrity ad approach ahead of the NBA playoffs is no surprise given its recent history. It filmed a mini-campaign with retired tight end Rob Gronkowski that was released in parts leading up to the Super Bowl. The concluding chapter of the campaign saw Gronk attempt a 25-yard field goal, which led to all FanDuel bettors enrolled in a special offer splitting $10 million worth of bonus bets.

LeBron James starred in a similar-style ad during the Super Bowl. “The King,” in a commercial for the Los Angeles Lakers’ new arena sponsor, sat next to a 2003 version of himself to discuss what the future held. The campaign featured the tagline “Fortune favors the brave” and ended with both LeBron’s chanting “We goin’ to the league!”

However, this is the first time that FanDul has wandered into the world of deepfakes and AI technology, both of which are highly controversial. Deepfakes allow programmers to create any scene imaginable and have characters say anything they want, which makes it easy to spread misinformation and propaganda.

Influential technology leaders like Tesla founder Elon Musk also believe that the widespread use of AI technology could create a litany of problems.

FanDuel has been quite successful in recent years. In 2022 it became the first sportsbook in America to produce a yearly profit in just one quarter thanks to a $22 million profit in Q2. It also claimed 42% of the American legal sports betting market as recently as November last year and is only turning up the heat with its new ad.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.