On Tuesday, the National Basketball Association announced it was entering into a three-year agreement with MGM International, making MGM the first gambling partner for the league. This is a landmark agreement, as it represents the first step in what is thought to be a prosperous relationship between U.S. sports leagues and gambling companies in the wake of the repeal of PASPA in May.
In discussing the deal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said “As the landscape for sports betting in the U.S. continues to evolve at a rapid pace, MGM Resorts is a proven gaming leader for us to work with on this groundbreaking partnership,” He continued “Our collaboration will result in the best possible gaming and entertainment experience for consumers through the use of accurate, real-time NBA and WNBA data, and our collective efforts to maintain and enhance the integrity of our games.”
This is an important deal for many reasons. First, Silver himself was the first commissioner to stand out on a limb and discuss the potential of legal sports betting in the United States, and its impact on the leagues themselves. Silver took it a step further, suggesting that the NBA should receive a piece of the action under the guise of an “integrity fee.” While the initially proposed number was very high from an operator perspective, Silver’s position on this issue has already paid dividends. The bill that nearly passed in New York this past June featured an integrity fee that was to be paid to the league.
Under the terms of this agreement, MGM will receive non-exclusive access to direct data feeds from the NBA, giving them license to use names, logos, and video in their gaming properties where sports betting is legal. For MGM, this has been a historic week of their own, having secured a partnership with Boyd Gaming under the joint venture they created with GVC Holdings. MGM now stands poised to be the market leader in the regulated gambling space as each state’s legislation unfolds.
MGM CEO Jim Murren, who sure has been busy with press conferences and statements, weighed in on this latest announcement from his company. “The NBA has always been an innovator at the forefront of sports evolution, and MGM Resorts is thrilled to partner with the league to revolutionize sports betting in the United States,” he said. “Integrating the NBA’s assets and having official NBA data showcased across the MGM Resorts platforms will provide us with a distinct advantage and instill more confidence in knowing that our data is directly from the NBA.”
This is not the first connection between the NBA and MGM International. The casino group owns the Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA, and also is the title sponsor of the NBA’s Summer League, which showcases the league’s young talent and has grown immensely in popularity in recent years. With this foray into delivering data, the NBA is firmly leading the pack when it comes to the leagues accepting the inevitable – Americans will finally be able to bet legally on their sports.
It is anticipated that the NBA will look to secure other deals as well, whether via jersey sponsorship or in-property advertising in its arenas to further enhance its’ NBA betting options. One thing is for sure – this is just the tip of the iceberg, and we expect many deals to be cut between professional sports leagues and the gambling companies who will launch sportsbooks over the coming months and years. We are looking forward to hearing what announcements come in the future from both organizations. Based on the last few weeks, we don’t think either company is done.