New York City FC has entered into a strategic partnership with Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort that will see the Major League Soccer team and the Connecticut-based casino combine to offer fans "enhanced money-can’t-buy experiences" both at NYCFC home games and at select casino events throughout 2019.
Mohegan Sun is the first-ever presenting partner of NYCFC’s special area alongside the field at Yankee Stadium, an exclusive section offering fans a “VIP pre-game experience.” The casino will also offer tickets to NYCFC games to members of its Momentum Partners rewards program.
Mohegan Sun has similar promotional agreements with teams in Major League Baseball (the New York Yankees) and the National Basketball Association (the Boston Celtics), but this is the casino’s first foray with a MLS club.
“Mohegan Sun is excited to welcome NYCFC into our family of Momentum Partners,” Mohegan Sun president and general manager Ray Pineault said in a statement. “Offering guests fresh, unique experiences is our goal. The program we have put in place with NYCFC -- one of the U.S.’s top sports and entertainment brands -- delivers on that promise.”
The partnership between NYCFC and Mohegan Sun is the latest example of sports leagues and teams embracing relationships with companies in the gaming industry since May, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on legalized sports betting outside of Nevada.
In the aftermath of the ruling that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, MLB, the NBA, the National Football League and the National Hockey League each entered into separate agreements with MGM Resorts International to let the casino access proprietary data for gaming-related purposes.
Many leagues have accepted legalized sports betting with the idea it is a way to better increase fan interest and engagement, a belief shared by MLS commissioner Don Garber.
“If people are going to do it, you might as well manage and organize it,” Garber said, according to an igamingbusiness.com report. “You might as well generate tax revenue for it and find ways that the league could use it as a marketing tool to have people engage more with our players and our clubs.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing for Major League Soccer as it relates to the potential of legalized sports betting is not necessarily revenue-driven. It’s how do we engage more and more fans to participate, to get closer to our teams, to participate more deeply in our games.”
Relationships between soccer leagues and the gaming industry are common in England. Not only do some teams have sponsorship deals with casinos, there are even operational sportsbooks within some stadiums where fans can bet during games.
That same level of accessibility presently does not exist in the U.S., though Garber is not opposed to a sportsbook one day being operational in an MLS stadium during games.
In addition to Nevada, legalized sportsbooks are now operational in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. Of those states, only New Jersey (the New York Red Bulls) and Pennsylvania (the Philadelphia Union) currently have MLS teams.