The National Basketball Association now has an official sports book.
The league announced Tuesday at a New York news conference that it has formed a partnership with MGM Resorts International, that will make the Las Vegas-based casino operator its first-ever sports gambling partner. In states where such betting has been legalized, MGM will be able to use official NBA and WNBA logos and trademarks, and have access to official NBA data streams to create products like in-game betting.
This is the furthest any major U.S. league has gone to embrace the new sports betting reality. It’s another big step for the NBA, which was the first U.S. league to publicly support legalized sports betting, while warning about the dangers of allowing each state to write its own rules.
Terms of the partnership were not announced. It is unclear whether MGM is paying a lump sum up front or if the two companies will share a cut of bets wagered.
The deal marks a partnership between two groups that have been largely at odds since the Supreme Court in May overturned the federal ban on sports gambling. Leagues like the NBA and Major League Baseball have spent months pushing for financial concessions and protections from state legislators, including a cut of every dollar wagered on their games, the required use of official data, which the leagues sell, and the real-time sharing of anonymous betting data to help identify suspicious activity.
Operators such as MGM have been vocal in opposing many of those provisions, arguing that anything that hurts their margins would hinder their ability to compete with illegal bookmakers.
The announcement continues a busy week for MGM’s sports-betting operations. The company on Sunday announced a US$200 million joint venture with European gambling giant GVC Holdings Plc, the parent of brands including Ladbrokes, Coral, bwin and partypoker. Under the 50/50 venture, which will extend for 25 years, the two will work together to expand sports betting and online casino offerings across the U.S.
MGM also formed a separate partnership with Las Vegas-based casino operator Boyd Gaming Corp. that will allow each company to offer products in jurisdictions where the other has a physical location. That shared licensing deal, which MGM Chief Operating Officer James Murren called “unprecedented,” gives both companies an immediate presence in 15 states.