- BetMGM is now an ‘official sports betting partner’ of the Philadelphia 76ers.
- The Sixers have been one of the most active NBA teams in establishing partnership deals with sportsbooks.
- The 2020-2021 NBA season began earlier this week.
The 2020-2021 NBA season is underway and while it’ll take at least a year to get the sports world back on its pre-pandemic circadian rhythm it’s great to have another betting option on the board. The Philadelphia 76ers are hoping to bounce back this year after they were unceremoniously dumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Boston Celtics last year. So far so good–at 2-0 they’re one of thirteen teams that remain unbeaten.
Pennsylvania has become a top five sports betting marketplace despite ridiculously high tax rates (36%) and the seven mobile books in the state have been looking to sign promotional relationships ‘fast and furious’ (yes, I know that should be furious*ly*). In November, Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks took $491.9 million worth of action with a 9.9% hold. Of course if the state had less of a reliance on retail betting and a more attractive competitive climate they would be doing significantly more than that. The most recent company to go live in Pennsylvania is BetMGM and in conjunction with that launch they’re now an official sports betting partner of the Philadelphia 76ers. It’s the second Pennsylvania pro sports sponsorship announced for BetMGM in the past month–in late November they announced that they would be the first ever ‘gaming partner’ of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The deal with the Sixers was important for BetMGM with competitors FoxBet, DraftKings and Unibet all having promotional relationships with the NFL Philadlephia Eagles. Not that the Sixers have been the least bit shy about signing on ‘Official Sports Betting Partners’–they had previously existing deals with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and Parx Casino. At this point, it sounds like the deal is pretty ‘by the book’ for partnerships of this sort:
The Philadelphia 76ers announced today that BetMGM, a leading sports betting and digital gaming company, is now an Official Sports Betting Partner of the team, following BetMGM’s recent mobile launch in Pennsylvania. The partnership features TV-visible signage including BetMGM’s logo on the pole pads during 76ers games, and fan-focused engagement campaigns including promotions within the official 76ers app, 76ers-branded casino games, and more.
Then there’s all of the ‘featured presence across all digital and social platforms’ thing. BetMGM even got the Borgata Atlantic City into the mix:
As an Official Sports Betting Partner of the Philadelphia 76ers, BetMGM will be featured across all 76ers digital and social platforms including the official 76ers mobile app. The sports betting and digital gaming company will also have prominent signage at the arena during 76ers games including the pole pads beneath the baskets, which will be seen on television broadcasts.
In addition to the in-game experience, MGM Resorts’ Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City will be designated as an “Official Away Game Host of the Philadelphia 76ers,” an activation that will feature events on site when it is deemed safe to do so. Borgata will also host a co-branded Season Ticket Member and VIP event in the future featuring casino games, appearances by 76ers legends, autographed memorabilia raffles and other exclusive prizes.
Then there’s the press release quotes, where the various corporate representatives compete with each other to see who can cram the most buzzwords making overt or oblique reference to ‘fan engagement’ in a paragraph or two. We’ll start with Katie O’Reilly, 76ers Chief Revenue Officer, who gives it a good go:
“We are thrilled to partner with BetMGM and together create new, engaging experiences to deliver to our 76ers fans. This partnership will give us the ability to connect with our fans on the digital channels where they spend their time through customized 76ers branded games and activations. BetMGM will also propel us into a new space, strategically targeting fans in the sports betting and gaming realm.”
Matt Prevost, Chief Revenue Officer, BetMGM also focused on ‘fan engagement’ though did so in an almost jargon free manner:
“We’re honored to be an Official Sports Betting Partner of the 76ers. Our recent launch in Pennsylvania has been incredibly successful and this partnership is an exciting opportunity for BetMGM to offer 76ers fans unique ways to engage with their favorite basketball team.”
Despite the fact that I like to make fun of these ‘partnership’ deals and how the sports teams/leagues bend over backwards to justify them as ‘fan engagement’ and not a ‘blatant cash grab’ I think they’re great. It benefits everyone and that includes the entire sports betting ecosystem. The teams and leagues get to ‘wet their beak’ and make some money off of sports betting in a non-destructive manner (as opposed to ‘integrity fees’ and other equally stupid concepts). The sportsbooks get great exposure to build brand recognition and a client base. All the while it makes sports betting a more accepted part of American culture. The more comfortable randos in ‘flyover country’ become with sports betting the better it is for everyone.
Interestingly, BetMGM operates in Pennsylvania in partnership with Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino. You have to think that Penn National will start to re-think partnerships of this sort now that they’ve invested so much in their partnership with Barstool Sports. They’ve rebranded the retail sportsbook at the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course under the Barstool brand and are in the process of doing the same thing at their other ‘brick & mortar’ books. They’ve also launched the Barstool sports betting app in Pennsylvania. Not sure of the specifics of the partnership between BetMGM and Penn National but something you won’t find anywhere on the corporate website or the property website is any reference to it. Were I in Penn National’s position I’d be doing the exact same thing and looking to ‘unwind’ any deals with other brands.