Ranked: The Most Lucrative Casino, Pro Sports Team & Sportsbook Deals

Major pro sports leagues in the US didn’t seem too keen on legal sports betting spreading across the US–at first.

Who could blame them? After all, it was the leagues that took New Jersey to court to block NJ sports betting and landed on the losing end of the Supreme Court decision allowing any state that wants sports betting to get in the game.

For most, the tack quickly changed to trying to get a piece of the action through some type of integrity fee. The leagues have yet to find a state willing to pay that, but some, like the NFL, are still trying.

Changing attitudes

However, the attitude of most major pro sports leagues towards legal sports betting appears to be changing. They’ve found another way to get a piece of the pie through sponsorship and promotional deals and they’re going after it big time.

So far, a dozen such deals have been struck between leagues, teams, casinos and sportsbook operations. Widespread legal sports betting across the US now seems inevitable. As a result, all the players in this potentially lucrative game are now embracing each other more than ever.

Deals have been struck between:

  • MGM Resorts and the NBA
  • MGM Resorts and the NHL
  • 888 Casino and the NFL’s New York Jets
  • MGM Resorts and the NFL’s New York Jets
  • Caesars Entertainment and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers
  • William Hill and the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights
  • William Hill and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils
  • Caesars Entertainment and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils
  • WinStar Casino and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys
  • Caesars Entertainment and the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens
  • FanDuel and the NHL
  • Caesars Entertainment and the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders

The players in all of these deals have kept relatively quiet about the numbers. However, it has been reported the NBA-MGM deal could be worth as much as $25 million to the league.

Here’s a look inside the arrangements, offering some insight into each one’s value and ranking them from what best we can figure is first to worst:

MGM Resorts and the NBA

The NBA was really the first US sports league to begin to come around on sports betting. Commissioner Adam Silver had seen the writing on the wall as far back as 2014, writing an op-ed in the New York Times calling for the repeal of PASPA because gambling had already become so prevalent across the US.

In July, the NBA inked a deal with MGM Resorts International, making the casino and gaming giant the official gaming partner of NBA. The deal marked the NBA’s first with a US sports betting operator. It is also MGM’s first with a major professional sports league.

Ultimately, it means MGM can use official NBA data and branding at its retail and mobile sportsbook operations. However, it’s also a content and cross-promotional deal that will see the pair collaborate in a number of different ways.

From all accounts, this reportedly $25 million multi-year deal is the gold standard in casino-sports league agreements. In fact, it’s likely to be the one all further deals are modeled after.

MGM Resorts and the NHL

The NHL followed the NBA signing its own deal with MGM Resorts in October. Once again, it allowed MGM to become the league’s first official sports betting partner.

MGM gets access to NHL data and intellectual property, and trademarks for marketing and promotion. There will also be MGM-sponsored programs at NHL events, including the All-Star Game, Winter Classic, Stadium Series and the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s a major sponsorship deal. The only thing making it potentially less lucrative than the MGM-NBA deal is hockey’s lack of popularity compared to basketball.

FanDuel and the NHL

Not to be outdone by MGM, FanDuel inked its own deal in November with the NHL to become the league’s official daily fantasy sports and sports betting partner.

FanDuel also announced a partnership with the New Jersey Devils as part of the deal. A move that has the Devils leading all teams in all leagues in terms of sports betting partners.

FanDuel will put its name on various VIP experiences at league events like the Winter Classic and the All-Star Game. Plus, the word “official” will be thrown around quite a bit.

Gamblers will see immediate benefits of the partnership in the form of the FanDuel sponsored Skate to the NHL Winter Classic contest awarding a trip to the New Year’s Day event at Notre Dame Stadium.

Devils fans will see the FanDuel Sportsbook logo embedded in the ice at Prudential Center.

Considering the lack of exclusivity, and the fact the NHL lags behind the rest of the major sports leagues in popularity, this deal cannot be considered among the most lucrative in the industry.

WinStar Casino and the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys

Maverick Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does what he wants. In September, Jones decided what he wanted was the Cowboys to become the first NFL team to have an official casino partnership.

Jones struck a deal with WinStar World Casino and Resort in Oklahoma, where they don’t have legal sports betting just yet. This is the main reason why the NFL doesn’t seem to mind this arrangement.

Generally, everything is bigger in Texas, but since this deal involves neighboring Oklahoma, it can’t be worth too much.

Caesars Entertainment and the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens

Nearing the end of October, Caesars Entertainment signed another in a series of pro sports team deals. This one allows its Horseshoe Casino Baltimore to use the Baltimore Ravens’ branding and logos for on-site promotion.

In fact, Caesars is turning the property’s 14Forty three-level feature bar into a Baltimore Ravens-branded bar.

At the time, it was only the second sponsorship arrangement between an NFL team and a casino, but it sounds a bit smaller than the Dallas Cowboys-WinStar deal.

Caesars Entertainment and the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders

The Oakland Raiders won’t become the Las Vegas Raiders until 2020. But when they do, Caesars Entertainment will be a partner.

The pair struck a 15-year partnership deal in early November revolving around the team’s under-construction home in Sin City.

The 65,000-seat Las Vegas Stadium is scheduled to open in July 2020, just ahead of the NFL season. When the Raiders start playing home games there, Caesars will come in as a founding partner.

Fans will see a Caesars-branded owner’s suite at the 50-yard line and a Caesars entrance and drop-off spot as part of the deal. Caesars is hoping its name becomes an essential part of the game time ritual for Raiders fans everywhere.

Financial terms have not been disclosed, but the deal is likely in line with other NFL team-sportsbook/casino partnerships.

888 Casino and the NFL’s New York Jets

The NFL has some longstanding and very strict rules when it comes to sponsorship deals between teams and the casino industry. Still, that didn’t stop the New York Jets from signing an advertising and promotions deal with NJ online gambling site 888 Casino in October. By the way, 888 has an NJ mobile sportsbook associated with the online casino as well.

The NFL relaxed its policies to allow teams to advertise with sportsbooks this year. However, casinos are still not supposed to advertise any sportsbook they run with NFL teams.

Regardless, the 888 Casino homepage now states the site is a “proud sponsor of the NY Jets.”

The league office is likely debating what to do about this right now. In the meantime, Jets fans will find 888 banners outside MetLife Stadium at the team’s next home game. That is until the NFL comes and takes the banners down themselves.

All signs point to this being a good deal for the Jets. Particularly if 888 is paying what it should cost to get the Jets to flout league sponsorship rules. However, it surrounds just a single team, making the NHL and NBA deals with MGM worth quite a bit more.

MGM Resorts and the NFL’s New York Jets

The New York Jets aren’t afraid of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell one bit. They proved that at the end of October signing yet another casino deal.

This one is being called a multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts International. It makes MGM the team’s official gaming partner.

Jets fans get access to PlayMGM mobile app, hospitality opportunities and rewards. MGM gets access to the Jets 360 production studio and a number of other sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

This one didn’t just turn up one day like the 888 Casino deal. MGM and the Jets have publicly spoken about it, suggesting the NFL has signed off. That is unless the Jets have simply gone rogue in their efforts to earn some big sponsorship bucks.

Caesars Entertainment and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers fans should see all kinds of Harrah’s Philadelphia advertising at the next home game inside Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

Caesars Entertainment inked a deal with the team at the end of October that also includes Caesars running a series of online and in-game contests to promote its various brands to 76ers’ fans. By the way, Harrah’s Philadelphia is currently building a PA sports betting operation.

This deal likely cost Caesars a pretty penny. However, it has to be a far cry from what MGM is paying the league.

William Hill and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils

William Hill has moved into New Jersey in a big way. In fact, its name is now on roughly a third of the retail sportsbook operations in the state.

At the end of October, the sports betting giant announced it had signed a deal with the New Jersey Devils. The arrangement will see William Hill open a sports-betting lounge at the Prudential Center in Newark where the team plays.

This means they are building a sportsbook inside the arena that will allow gamblers access to William Hills’ NJ mobile sports betting app.

Exactly what this is going to cost William Hill remains to be seen. However, the Devils appear to be a team getting the most out of legal NJ sports betting that it can.

Caesars Entertainment and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils

Just days after the New Jersey Devils announced its deal with William Hill, the team signed another one.

As a part of this new deal, Caesars will open up a 5,000-square-foot Caesars Club premium restaurant and bar at Prudential Center. Plus, the casino giant will begin promoting its brands during events at the venue. Of course, this includes the Caesars Casino & Sports NJ mobile sports betting app, and sportsbooks at Bally’s Atlantic City and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.

Caesars branding will practically be everywhere around the arena. However, it’s a good bet it will cost the company less than what William Hill is forking out to open up a sportsbook there.

William Hill and the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights

William Hill is the largest sportsbook operator in Nevada and the entire world. Seeing it sign the first-ever partnership between an NHL team and a sportsbook back in September came as no surprise.

Somewhat obviously as well, since both call Las Vegas home, the deal is between William Hill and the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

It’s a full-fledged media, advertising and promotional deal. Fans already see the William Hill name all over the T-Mobile Arena at home games. This deal even has William Hill posting league-wide odds for games on the in-arena Knight Tron during intermissions.

How much it is all worth remains to be seen. However, its as pure as a sportsbook-team sponsorship deal can get.

Martin Derbyshire

About

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years of experience reporting on the poker, online gambling, and land-based casino industries for a variety of publications including Bluff Magazine, PokerNews, and PokerListings. He has traveled extensively, attending tournaments and interviewing major players in the gambling world.