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More On The NFL’s ‘Second Tier’ Sports Betting Partnerships

James Murphy
by in NFL on
NFL 'Approved Sportsbook Operators' don't even get a cake
  • The National Football League (NFL) now has a secondary tier of ‘approved sportsbook operators’.
  • PointsBet and FoxBet are already part of this group with BetMGM and WynnBet on the way.
  • In April, the NFL announced Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel as their first ‘official sports betting partners’.

Earlier this week, we reported on PointsBet being named as an ‘approved sportsbook operator’ by the National Football League (NFL). At the time, we speculated on what this designation means relative to the ‘official sports betting partner’ nomenclature. Here’s some more information….

In mid April, the NFL announced that three sportsbooks were their inaugural ‘Official Sports Betting Partners’. The league indicated that these were ‘tri-exclusive’ partners (ie: there are three of them meaning that they’re not exclusive) by virtue of a multi-year agreement. The first three sportbooks (or the ‘tri-exclusive’ sportsbooks, if you will) were Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel. Here’s the description of the ‘Official Sports Betting Partner’ perks from the press release announcing the deal:

The National Football League today announced its first-ever U.S. sportsbook partnerships as Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel have reached agreements to become Official Sports Betting Partners of the NFL. As part of these multi-year agreements, all three partners will have the exclusive ability to leverage NFL marks within the sports betting category and activate around retail and online sports betting. They will also engage with fans through NFL-themed free-to-play games.

Additionally, Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel will have the right to integrate relevant sports betting content directly into NFL Media properties including NFL.com and the NFL App. DraftKings and FanDuel will enhance their fan experiences with NFL highlights, footage and Next Gen Stats content. Caesars and the NFL will collaborate on integrating NFL content into Caesars platforms as well. Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel will all use the NFL’s official League data feed.

As you’d expect, no terms were released but you can be sure that they involved a lot of jack being transferred from the sportsbooks to the NFL. Now let’s take a look at the perks for the ‘Approved Sportsbook Operator’ status:

The relationship provides PointsBet with sponsorship opportunities and brand visibility via unique integrations across various television and digital assets, including NFL owned networks as well as their full suite of media partners. PointsBet also gains use of official NFL data, ultimately enhancing the customer experience.

Basically, it looks like the ‘official sports betting partner’ status comes with the right to use NFL branding for both mobile and retail. I guess that they can, say, use the Atlanta Falcons logo on the big board instead of just ‘Atlanta Falcons’. A minor touch though I can see how this would ‘enhance the end user experience’. There’s also highlights and footage along with the use of NFL content. The bit about being able to ‘integrate relevant sports betting content directly into NFL media properties’ probably means they can post betting lines, etc. attributed directly to the book. At the time the ‘official sports betting partners’ were announced CBS Sports provided this additional context:

Its multiyear deal with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel will mean several things: First, each of the companies will be permitted exclusive access to NFL content, like logos, highlights and trademarks; as well as opportunities to integrate their own content into NFL Media properties like NFL.com and the NFL app. Caesars will be tasked with a presence at key NFL events like the 2022 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas, as well as in its online iGaming space. Each partner will also be permitted to produce NFL-themed free-to-play games.

DraftKings and FanDuel will be permitted to incorporate NFL highlights, footage and Next Gen Stats content into their platforms. Perhaps most notably, FanDuel will also work with the NFL on pregame integration opportunities on NFL Network for the seven regular-season games the network will air in 2021.

The Caesars presence at the Pro Bowl and NFL Draft in Las Vegas is probably worth something in terms of brand awareness–assuming that there’s anyone living in or visiting the 702 that wasn’t already aware of the brand. The FanDuel ‘pregame integration opportunities’ might be the best perk of the bunch.

By contrast, it doesn’t look like ‘Approved Sportsbook Operators’ get much. Official league data is of questionable worth relative to data from one of the many first rate companies specializing in betting data such as Sportradar and Genius Sports. A few jurisdictions require the use of ‘official league data’ but that can be obtained without being an ‘approved sportsbook operator’. Genius Sports is dropping $1 billion USD to disseminate official league data so if a book is required to use it they can just buy it ‘a la carte’. In fact, were I running Genius Sports and expecting to get some return on my ten figure investment by packaging official league data for sportsbooks I’m not sure that I’d appreciate the NFL for all intents and purposes selling it through other channels to some of the biggest names in the betting biz.

‘Sponsorship opportunities’ means that PointsBet has the right to buy advertising in the various NFL content distribution channels. Then again, so does any other company willing to pick up the phone and give the league offices a call. Maybe they get a preferential rate or it could be that much like Mayor Carmine DePasto told Dean Wormer in Animal House ‘if you want to advertise with the NFL you have to pay’. The NFL has presumably put its foot down on this:

There’s likely some upside to being able to claim the NFL’s imprimatur as an ‘approved sportsbook operator’ but I doubt it’s as much as the league would lead you to believe. I’m assuming that a good portion of our readership has patronized a sportsbook and this type of promotional relationship with a league, team or media outlet isn’t a consideration of where you play. It’s not like the NFL will mediate a dispute with a sportsbook or intervene on your behalf if you’re otherwise getting jerked around.

ROI not withstanding, if the NFL is charging a semi-reasonable fee for ‘approved sportsbook operator’ status they’ll get plenty of takers. In addition to PointsBet, FoxBet is already in this group and BetMGM and WynnBet will be soon.

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