Caesars Entertainment Corporation is now the NFL’s first “Official Casino Sponsor.”
Under the terms of the deal, Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the US and UK to promote its casino properties. Caesars will also be active at major NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.
NFL clubs with existing sponsorship relationships with Caesars include:
- Atlanta Falcons
- Baltimore Ravens
- Chicago Bears
- Indianapolis Colts
- New Orleans Saints
- Oakland Raiders
- Philadelphia Eagles
Partnership deal applies to casinos, not sports betting
The deal press release explicitly explains that:
“These partnerships along with the new League deal are for the Casino category only and does not include sports betting, daily fantasy or hotels/resorts.”
Excluding sports betting implies that the NFL doesn’t want to tie itself down to one brand partner.
Caesars CEO Mark Frissora isn’t worried about that. He’s overjoyed to get a partnership in place with a league that has been a longtime skeptic of legal sports betting:
“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America. Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”
NFL/Caesars deal kicks off with 2019 playoffs
The deal details are not specified, but it is a multi-year agreement. The first NFL event to get the benefit of Caesars’ input will be the 2019 NFL playoffs.
Caesars will focus on “providing unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists, and a wide range of entertainment elements.”
Next year, Caesars will get involved with the 2020 Draft in coordination with the City of Las Vegas.
The main impetus of the deal for the NFL is to enhance the fan experience. Renie Anderson, senior vice president of the NFL, explained:
“Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”
AGA sees the deal as symbolic of the new relationship between leagues and sports betting
The significance of the deal can be measured by the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) response.
The AGA put out a press release immediately after the deal announcement. The presser carried the sub-heading; “highlights value of contractual relationships between leagues and casino industry.”
The three other big sports leagues, the NHL, MLB and NBA have signed deals with MGM. Therefore, the NFL is the last of the big four to find a partner.
Accepting a casino partner sends the signal that the NFL is now on board with sports wagering. The AGA sees this as good news. Sara Slane, AGA senior vice president of public affairs, commented:
“The NFL’s official partnership with Caesars Entertainment is a perfect example of the value of contractual relationships between leagues and the casino gaming industry. The partnerships now in place between gaming companies and each of the four major American sports leagues enrich the fan experience and validate gaming’s role as a form of mainstream entertainment.”
Caesars has stolen a march on MGM
In a wave of recent partnerships, MGM got the first big league deals in place starting with the NBA in July last year. It added baseball and hockey in the following months creating an apparent lock on league relationships.
It doesn’t seem possible that MGM did not pitch to the NFL, so it looks like Caesars presented a better proposition.
Caesars may only have one of the big four leagues, but it is by far the biggest.
On the other hand, while MGM’s deals are similar to the NFL/Caesars deal, they also include agreements on sports betting data.
At the time of the NBA deal, the AGA commented on the significance of including data provision:
“Sports betting deals should be done through contracts — not statutory obligations. Today’s announcement highlights the symbiotic partnership between casino gaming companies and sports entities. We anticipate this is the first of many to come.”
While the Caesars deal doesn’t include data access, it remains a rebuttal to the political arguments that such partnerships should be subject to new laws.