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Fubo Gaming Signs Promotional Partnership With MLS Side Houston Dynamo

James Murphy
by in Soccer on
  • Fubo Gaming has announced a promotional partnership with the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer (MLS).
  • Fubo Gaming operates Fubo Sportsbook, a sports betting platform created by the gaming subsidiary of fuboTV.
  • Fubo Sportsbook launched in Iowa in early November and has market access deals in Pennsylvania, Indiana and New Jersey.

Fubo Gaming–the sports betting subsidiary of streaming giant fuboTV–is slowly but surely gaining traction despite the skepticism of many observers and in a US gaming market which has largely been set up to protect incumbents and deter innovators. They went live in Iowa in early November followed by Arizona in December. They’ve also got market access agreements for Indiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. They’re also starting to work the partnership angle both at a team level and a league level–they’re now an ‘Authorized Gaming Operator’ of NASCAR.

There was a lot of skepticism when streaming platform fuboTV went public with their plans to get into the sports betting business. To facilitate their move, fuboTV purchased Vigtory, a gaming technology company. A number of gaming companies have purchased technology companies just to allow them to have the sportsbook platform ‘in house’. They’ve also bought and/or partnered with media platforms. fuboTV was doing the reverse–a media company buying a technology company to get into the sportsbook business. Here’s the backstory on Vigtory from the fuboTV press release announcing the deal:

Vigtory was founded in 2019 by Sam Rattner and backed by SeventySix Capital. Rattner is a digital sports entrepreneur who is noted for developing and integrating sports betting content and technology with robust consumer experiences. Rattner previously founded Engine Sports, a back-testing engine allowing retail sports bettors the ability to build algorithmic betting strategies within an interactive experience. Scott Butera, who was the president of interactive gaming at MGM Resorts International and was instrumental in launching BetMGM, joined Vigtory as Rattner’s co-CEO in 2020. Prior to MGM, Butera was commissioner of the Arena Football League and held C-suite leadership positions at Foxwoods Resort Casino, Tropicana Entertainment, Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino and Trump Entertainment, among other gaming businesses.

Under the proposed acquisition, both Butera and Rattner will join fuboTV’s gaming division as president and COO, respectively.

fuboTV’s major competitor–sports streaming network DAZN–has also expressed their designs on the betting industry. There may be some sound logic for this. Sports betting companies require on bets to keep the money coming in. That’s a problem with so many states bungling sports betting implementation or else doing everything they can to protect financial benefactors. Media companies, by contrast, are playing a different game and have multiple revenue streams. They’re arguably in a better position to play the ‘long game’ with the US betting industry.

Fubo Gaming has just made another ‘long game’ move, this one taking a page out of the playbook of Australian sportsbook PointsBet–they’ve established a ‘preemptive’ partnership with a team in a state that has yet to offer betting freedom to its citizens. PointsBet recently announced a partnership deal with MLS side Austin FC, staking a claim to what could someday be a huge Texas market. Fubo Gaming has done something similar, partnering with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS. The Fubo deal has taken things one step further by entering into a market access agreement with the team, presumably anticipating that when Texas does regulate sports betting they’ll do what a number of states have already done and ‘juice in’ professional sports teams. Here’s the 411 on the partnership from the press release announcing the deal:

The Houston Dynamo Football Club today announced a long-term partnership with Fubo Gaming, a subsidiary of live TV streaming platform fuboTV (NYSE: FUBO).

The groundbreaking deal is the first with a Major League Soccer (MLS) club for Fubo Gaming and represents the first sports gaming partnership for Houston Dynamo FC of MLS and the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The partnership designates Fubo Gaming the Official Sports Betting Partner of the Club, while fuboTV will be featured prominently on the front of both Houston Dynamo FC and Houston Dash training tops for the 2022 season.

In conjunction with this agreement, Fubo Gaming inked a multi-year market access deal with the Club, pending legislation passing in the State of Texas to legalize sports betting. Following the passage of legislation, Fubo Gaming is expected to launch Fubo Sportsbook in the Lone Star State, pending the requisite regulatory approvals.  

Clever move by Fubo Gaming. Worst case scenario, they still have a highly visible marketing opportunity with a team in a huge market. From the brand building perspective alone, that’s valuable. Houston Dynamo FC president John Walker is pleased to get a strong sponsor on board:

“This partnership represents a significant step forward for our club, and I am proud to welcome fuboTV and Fubo Gaming to the Dynamo and Dash family. Fubo Gaming is at the forefront of the sports gaming industry and will be leaders in shaping how we enjoy sports in the years to come. We look forward to working with their industry experts to deliver best-in-class experiences for our fans and continually improve the fan experience as the landscape evolves.”

Scott Butera–formerly with Vigtory–is now in charge of Fubo Gaming and he’s a very sharp guy. Here’s his take on the deal with the Houston Dynamo:

“Partnering with the Houston Dynamo Football Club for market access in Texas is a major milestone for Fubo. Texas has an incredibly enthusiastic community of sports fans and will ultimately become one of the largest sports betting markets in the U.S. In addition, our comprehensive partnership with the Dynamo, which encompasses numerous assets and levels of fan engagement, allows Fubo Gaming to maximize its uniquely integrated streaming and wagering platform and furthers our goal of offering highly personalized and immersive experiences.”

Here’s some of the specifics that fans can expect beginning with the 2022 MLS season:

  • The Fubo Gaming brand through an integrated marketing campaign highlighted by high-impact local broadcast-visible signage
  • A presence on the Club’s television and podcast programming
  • Activation on the Club’s digital and social channels and other marketing assets
  • Prominent placement of the Fubo Gaming brand across the PNC Stadium, including naming rights for the gate entrance located at the Northeast corner of the stadium
  • Exclusive logo branding on the front of all Houston Dynamo FC and Houston Dash training tops 
  • A presence in community activations benefiting Dynamo Charities.

Fubo Gaming already has some cool integrations with fuboTV (they *really* need to standardize the stylized lowercase ‘f’ across brands). This is one of the big problems with the boneheaded way that many US states are setting up their sports betting ecosystem–innovation is strongly discouraged:

Fubo Gaming launched Fubo Sportsbook, a next-generation mobile sportsbook, in two states: Iowa and Arizona. Fubo Sportsbook is purpose-built to meet U.S. sports fans’ growing demand for interactivity through an industry-first integration of an owned-and-operated sports wagering platform with a live TV streaming experience. By integrating with fuboTV, the mobile app delivers personalized omniscreen experiences that turn passive viewers into active participants. The app’s proprietary feature, Watching Now, leverages fuboTV’s first-party user data to engage participants by recommending relevant bets based upon what they are streaming — even as they change the channel. 

Fubo Gaming also provided some photos with their press release–the first thing you notice about them is that the branding is all for fuboTV though the partnership is with the gaming subsidiary. That raises the question about how Fubo/fubo is going to play the immediate future–will there be Fubo Sportsbook logos on the jerseys that the teams will wear once the season begins? Will they promote the TV network for now and pivot to the sportsbook at some point in the future? Will they do a combination of these two? Stay tuned…

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