SPORT in America entered a new frontier in early August as MGM resorts entered an agreement to become the NBA‘s official gaming partner, the first American league to do so.
In a deal believed to be close to USD$25 million, MGM Resorts became the exclusive official gaming partner of both the NBA and WNBA. In the agreement MGM also receives the rights to use league highlights, logos and all data directly from the NBA.
The deal will give MGM an enhanced NBA experience over its competitors. MGM Casinos will be able to use league and team logos on their sportsbooks – something that was previously disallowed in Vegas – and their app will make highlights and other information available in states that allow mobile betting.
CEO of MGM Jim Murren said the deal is “historic.”
“The foremost mission is to maintain and preserve the integrity of the game, the fan experience for the NBA fans, [and] in fact help catapult further the global presence of the NBA,” he said.
“As a global entertainment company, I feel MGM has an opportunity to partner with the NBA to do that.”
So what changes?
If you’re outside the US – not a lot.
In Australia for example betting on all kinds of different markets is commonplace. Everything from how many rebounds a player will get to the overall score in a match is fair game, and this partnership shouldn’t see that change at all.
If you’re American however, this is paradigm shifting.
For the first time ever Americans outside the state of Nevada will be able to legally bet on the NBA in much the same way as their Australian counterparts.
Outside of Nevada it was impossible to legally bet on basketball, but less than three months after the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, other states had federal blessing to run full-scale legal sports betting.
Delaware and New Jersey began accepting bets in June, and other states are expected to follow suit soon. The NBA – along with other leagues – have been lobbying for all sportsbooks which plan on accepting basketball bets to administer a “integrity fee”.
What exactly is an integrity fee?
The NBA, MLB and the PGA have been pushing the states looking to legalize sports betting to deliver an “integrity fee,” based on the amount wagered on their respective games and events.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver outlined the league’s rationale in asking for the remuneration.
“I think we’re still having our discussions with our states about so-called integrity fees based on (betting) handles,” Silver said.
“There’s many different ways to skin the cat, so to speak; and we decided here, rather than sort of re-litigating the integrity fee, which is still being hotly discussed state by state, let’s find an approach which is unique to us and where we both feel that we’re being fairly treated.”
It is believed as part of the MGM Resorts deal that an integrity fee was negotiated, but so far no states have agreed to the league’s proposals.
Expect live betting to explode
Basketball is already a popular sport to wager upon in America, but the $1.5 billion wagered in 2017 on hoops is expected to substantially increase.
Why? Live betting.
Take soccer for example. In the UK soccer is the primary sport wagered upon by the English, but it would come as a surprise to many that there is more money wagered after the opening whistle than before the game has begun.
The MGM Resorts deal allows the casino to use the data that is directly fed to it via the league to regulate the live betting markets. Americans are expected to follow suit on the live betting trend and MGM believes the deal will set them apart from the competition.
“[Now], we have tremendous data analytics information from the NBA — and that will determine who wins and loses in this arena, the sports betting arena, in the United States,” Murren said.
“And I think MGM’s going to win.”
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