- Betway has announced a partnership deal with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Earlier this month, Betway announced a promotional deal with the NBA Dallas Mavericks to be the team’s ‘Official and Exclusive Free-to-Play Partner’.
- Betway has a multitude of partnership deals with teams and leagues throughout Europe and more recently has added seven teams in the NBA and NHL to their partnership portfolio.
Betway is a well known brand throughout Europe but one that is just now being established in the US betting market. Betway has launched their mobile sports betting platform in Colorado along with Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Iowa with more in the pipeline. Like many other sportsbooks, Betway has aggressively leveraged promotional partnerships across a wide spectrum of sports to build their brand–both in Europe and in the US. Earlier this month, we reported that Malta based Betway had signed a multi-year deal with the NBA Dallas Mavericks to serve as the team’s ‘Official and Exclusive Free-to-Play Partner’. Today, Betway announced their latest partnership agreement with the NBA Minnesota Timberwolves.
Every US facing sportsbook has a different strategic approach to establishing brand identity. The team and/or league sponsorship deal is one of the most popular. A major advantage to this tactic is the ability to focus resources in US sports betting jurisdictions as they come online. Obviously, a promotional involvement with professional sports teams in a jurisdiction targets a key customer demographic at the same time. Betway has done some of these partnerships in existing jurisdictions but they’ve also taken something of a new approach by seeking sponsorship deals in states that have yet to create a regulatory framework for sports betting.
Betway has done this in California with the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors, in New York with the NHL New York Islanders and in Texas with the Dallas Mavericks. You can now add Minnesota to that list. It’s an intriguing strategy that other companies have started to emulate (eg: PointsBet’s sponsorship deal with the FC Austin of Major League Soccer). By all appearances, this is a ‘low risk/high reward’ investment. Betway gets the opportunity to build their brand in the biggest potential sports betting markets in the US as well as further establishing themselves on a national level. It’s also a good tactic to emphasize to state government types that there are a number of ancillary economic benefits to sports betting in addition to more tax revenue. Specific to the New York market, there’s plenty of spillover into New Jersey’s massive sports betting ecosystem.
While state governments can never be counted on to create an intelligent regulatory environment for sports betting there is plenty of potential in Minnesota. Minnesota’s casino gaming infrastructure is–for now at least–exclusive to the state’s 11 tribal nations which operate 19 casinos. Currently, the tribal gaming properties are allowed to offer a limited number of Class III games–more specifically, blackjack and what the state calls ‘video games of chance’. In addition to slots and video poker, this includes video pull tab games and in some cases ‘virtual’ table games like roulette.
Unfortunately, the tribal gaming interests have become the biggest obstacle to sports betting in Minnesota. As has been seen in many other states, tribal gaming has amassed plenty of political clout and is using it to wield de facto ‘veto power’ against anything tangentially related to casino gambling. Minnesota has attempted to enact sports betting legislation but it has been blocked by the tribal gaming lobby. There have been attempts to placate them with schemes that would be to the detriment of sports betting in Minnesota–most notably, the outmoded ‘in-person registration’ requirement. This hasn’t done too much to mollify the tribe. It would, however, be a huge revenue drag on the sports gaming industry right out of the gate. There’s been plenty of research that validates what should be obviously–bettors aren’t going to drive across the state just to set up an online account. In one study, 76% of bettors supported online registration. 80% say they would not drive more than an hour to establish an online account. In a geographically large state like Minnesota this is a huge issue.
The problem, however, is that sports bettors don’t have lobbyists or politicians that have benefited from their financial largess. The Minnesota state government deserves credit for not doing what Connecticut has done–they just divvied sports betting up among political cronies of the governor (eg: the state lottery, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Tribe) giving an extended middle finger to the private sector, sports bettors and the potential overall economic benefit of a massive industry. With few exceptions, tribal gaming interests undermine competition and innovation in a jurisdiction much in the same way that the legacy gaming interests in Nevada have done for years. They don’t want to grow the market, they just want to protect their piece of the pie. It’s as much of a ‘power grab’ as it is a ‘cash grab’.
Maybe that’s why the Betway/Timberwolves press release announcing their partnership is downright terse. This is the entire thing–including quotes:
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced its partnership with Betway, the leading global online betting and gaming brand.
The multi-year deal will prominently feature Betway branding on-court including the court apron and the top of the backboard, in addition to LED and TV-visible signage inside Target Center.
“We are incredibly excited to begin working with and learning from a global leader like Betway,” said Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson.
“Continuing the growth of the Betway brand in the U.S., we’re delighted to be partnering with the Minnesota Timberwolves,” said Betway CEO Anthony Werkman. “We look forward to connecting with their loyal fanbase and we’re also excited to see the team’s new recruits this season.”
Hopefully, Minnesota will be able to put together a competitive and player friendly sports betting ecosystem that creates economic benefits for everyone in the state. I’m not holding my breath. Between political cronyism, legacy gaming interests and the utter hubris of most state governments on a ‘macro’ level there’s a serious danger that greed, corruption and entitlement will kill the proverbial ‘golden goose’ of US sports betting. For the foreseeable future, there will likely be less than 10 states doing sports betting right and the rest of the country will–to some degree or another–be stuck in the ‘dark ages’.