Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA made a groundbreaking announcement on Tuesday that they will become the first professional sports organization in the U.S. to partner with a sportsbook.
The NBA and MGM Resorts International signed a deal worth a reported $25 million over three years that will give the sports betting operator exclusive rights to highlights, logos, branding and data as the official gambling partner of the NBA.
The deal links MGM to the NBA as its official sports betting partner making it the first gambling provider to officially join with an American professional sports league in any such agreement.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on NBA TV in the official press conference that he was excited to make history and championed the capabilities of the NBA to provide a top notch betting product.
“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. 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.”
The deal puts MGM in a unique position compared to competition. It also opens a wealth of possibilities for other content that could be offered from online livestreaming of events to more in-depth player and team-based markets.
Data is unsurprisingly a big talking point for the NBA and all sports leagues as its one of the main bargaining chips in play for making these types of deals.
The purported importance of official data controlled and distributed by the leagues themselves is furthermore rationale being used to argue for “integrity fees”.
Despite the success of sports betting in Nevada, where no “official data” deals exist, the leagues have been pushing heavily for these fees to be included in forthcoming legislation involving sports betting.
Many, including representatives from existing sportsbooks and pro-gambling politicians, see official data as unnecessary and the fees as just another attempt by the leagues to get their cut of legal sports betting action.
With a handful of states legalizing sports betting this summer, a partnership with a sportsbook was the natural next step for the NBA, which has been one of the most active professional leagues in regards to embracing gambling. In January 2018, the NBA spoke in front of a New York State Senate committee and requested a set of laws that would set up what they call “integrity fees” that they’d receive on each wager.
“I would only say from the NBA's standpoint we will spend this year roughly $7.5 billion creating this content, creating these games,” Silver said in February. “Those are total expenses for the season. So this notion that as the intellectual property creators that we should receive a one percent fee seems very fair to me.”
There’s no word on whether integrity fees will be included between the NBA and MGM, but the NBA will reportedly be compensated as part of the deal.
MGM CEO Jim Murren also was thrilled at the opportunity to offer official NBA sanctioned products and talked up the implications of the deal.
“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. 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.”
MGM International owns establishments in New York, New Jersey, Mississippi, Maryland, Nevada and Massachusetts. A recent agreement with GVC Holdings gave them unprecedented access to Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
As a major player in the U.S. gambling scene and around the world, MGM’s deal with the NBA only adds to its credibility and makes it part of an agreement that will discussed for years to come when on the topic of betting in America.
MGM operates a sports betting app currently in Nevada where it will remain, but its expected that it will be expanded to other states at they legalize sports betting over time.
It capped off a busy couple days for MGM, which also announced a $100 million deal with GVC Holdings and another with Boyd Gaming. For the NBA, it’s an important step toward the legalization of sports betting and another revenue stream for the ever-growing popularity of the sport.