MGM Resorts International, owner of Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, is the official gaming partner of the National Basketball Association, the first such deal between a professional sports league and a casino operator in the United States.
The deal allows MGM to use official NBA and WNBA information and statistics in setting betting lines and authorizes the gaming company to use league branding and logos.
In exchange, the league will have access to real-time betting data, allowing it to monitor unusual gambling activity in an effort to protect the integrity of its games.
“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday during a press conference in New York City.
MGM Resorts will be promoted across the NBA’s digital assets, including NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA social media platforms, according to a press release. Additionally, the NBA will be promoted across MGM Resorts’ sports betting platforms.
The partnership is the first of its kind in the United States, but similar agreements between professional sports leagues and gaming operators are common practice in Europe and Australia.
“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,” MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren 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.”
The monetary details of the agreement were not formally disclosed, but ESPN reported the deal was worth “at least $25 million” over three years.
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When the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal ban on legal sports wagering to be unconstitutional in May, it opened the door for individual states to enact regulations and tax structures. Sports leagues quickly lobbied state legislators to include “integrity fees” in the laws to receive a share of sports betting revenue as well as access to gaming data for monitoring purposes.
Before passing legislation to regulate and tax sports betting in June, state Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, likened the integrity fees to extortion since it was the leagues who fought nationwide legal sports gaming.
“Now that their efforts have been ultimately unsuccessful, they wish to make ‘the fast buck’ and to ‘get something for nothing,’” Sweeney wrote to other state lawmakers in May detailing his opposition to the leagues’ requests.
Daniel Wallach, a gaming and sports attorney, said the ability for the league to have real-time access to betting action gives the NBA something it was seeking in its state lobbying efforts.
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“For me, the really big deal (is) the sharing of information in real time with the NBA, (which) could be a game-changer from the standpoint of integrity,” he said. “It’s something the casinos and the gaming industry had been unwilling to do in opposing some of the league asks in statehouses across the country. This is a really big deal and could really provide the precedent for legislatively giving this information to the leagues in bills introduced across the country,” he said.
Because sports leagues “have more than just a passing interest in safe-guarding the integrity of the game,” he said, leaving that responsibility to “state-licensed gaming operators and state regulators, whose jurisdiction ends at the state border, is less than ideal for the leagues.”