Chris Murphy: Americas Outlook – October brings Powers Plays & Happy Days

Chris Murphy – SBC Americas

Whilst European operators suffered a bad news October, everyone and everything appears to be upbeat stateside, as US gambling incumbents begin to strike out their first sports and marketing partnerships. Chris Murphy SBC America’s editor gives readers his stateside lowdown

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October proved to be the busiest yet for US sport betting, with a flurry of new commercial relationships between industry stakeholders and the major sports leagues, plus the addition of a sixth state to go live with legal sports wagering.

On the latter point, it was New Mexico that joined the growing sports betting club when the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel accepted its first wagers on October 16. But it wasn’t done through the state legislature. The Tamaya Nation took the initiative on this occasion, making New Mexico only the second state to launch tribal sports wagering after Mississippi.

The big talking point in October, however, was the whirlwind romance that blossomed between the gambling industry and the sports leagues and their member teams. MGM Resorts captured a significant slice of the ‘love-in’ headlines when it announced its ‘first of a kind’ deal with the New York Jets in which it became the team’s official gaming partner.

“We could not be more excited to join with the New York Jets for a first-of-its-kind partnership in the NFL,” said MGM chairman & CEO Jim Murren.

“We look forward to working with the Jets to innovate gaming, increase our customer base through cross-marketing opportunities and provide NFL fans with a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience.”

MGM made the headlines again when the National Hockey League (NHL) named the firm as its first official sports betting partner. Summarizing the agreement, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated: “The new sports betting landscape presents a unique opportunity for fan engagement utilizing technology and data that are exclusive to our League. As a leading global gaming operator and entertainment company, MGM Resorts is the perfect partner for us to begin our transformative entry into this space.”

Caesars Entertainment Corporation, eager not to miss out on all this newfound bonhomie, revealed it had entered into a multi-year partnership with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and the conglomerate’s marquee properties: the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center.

Shortly after, the firm announced the inking of an ‘unprecedented’ 15-year partnership in which it will become the first founding partner of the Las Vegas Stadium, the future home of the Las Vegas Raiders. “The Raiders are proud to welcome Caesars Entertainment as a founding partner of Las Vegas Stadium,” said Marc Badain, president of the Raiders.

“We are honoured to align with a company that shares the Raiders’ values of improving the local community and delivering exceptional customer service in creating this transformative project.”

And in yet another commercial venture, the Baltimore Ravens announced a new alliance with the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. It was described as only the second-ever partnership between a casino and an NFL franchise and united two anchors of Baltimore’s developing Southern Gateway Entertainment District. The only previous deal between an NFL franchise and a casino operator was struck earlier in the year when the Dallas Cowboys partnered with Winstar World Casino and Resort.

Elsewhere, Scientific Games officially confirmed the completion of the acquisition of Don Best Sports Corporation and DBS Canada Corporation in a move which, said the firm, enhances its sports betting portfolio and managed trading services with real-time data and pricing resources. Don Best’s Benjie Cherniak noted: “We’re joining the Scientific Games team during a transformational time in the sports betting space, and our offerings are the perfect complement to the company’s already strong portfolio of products and services.”

Last, but not least, of the major announcements concerned International Game Technology (IGT) which entered into a five-year agreement with Penn Online Entertainment, for its PlayDigital division to provide a full suite of digital gaming products, including the platform and services, for the newly regulated Pennsylvania online gaming market.

In summary, it appears for the time being that the spectre of an integrity fee/royalty from sports betting has been laid to rest. The major leagues and their teams are, instead, moving towards building commercial relationships with industry stakeholders which should ensure that all boats rise with the tide as revenue from legalized sports betting continues to grow.

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Chris Murphy – SBC Americas – Editor 

SBC brings ‘Betting on Sports America’ the largest sports betting conference & exhibition for the US sports market. 23 – 25 April 2019 – New York/New Jersey

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