- The National Football League (NFL) and Aristocrat Gaming have announced a deal for league branded slot machines at ‘brick and mortar’ casinos throughout the United States.
- The forthcoming league branded slot machines will allow players to customize their experience based on their favorite team.
- In addition, the NFL signed a deal with Aristocrat Gaming for virtual sports products.
The National Football League was once ‘anti-gambling’ but even then it was extremely selective. They fought tooth and nail for decades to deprive US citizens of their right to wager on sports but even as they spun spurious fables concerning ‘integrity’ and ‘protecting the game’ it was obvious that they were just waiting to get ‘juiced in’. What has happen since the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA is hardly a surprise and the NFL is now ‘all in’ on sports betting. They got cozy with other forms of gambling long before that–particularly state lotteries which despite their absurd odds against winning and demographic profile that skews much poorer and less educated than sports betting have always been considered ‘good clean fun’. Lottery games featuring official NFL team tie ins have been available for years. A more recent addition to their gaming portfolio is online casino games including blackjack and slot titles. Plenty of NFL teams have partnerships with local casinos–even in markets where casino gambling isn’t available. The fact that the first NFL team to have an official casino sponsor was the Dallas Cowboys says more about the league’s duplicity regarding gambling than any analysis of the issue ever could.
Now we’ve got a new precedent for the NFL–as well as a lucrative new gaming revenue stream. If you’ve been anywhere near a casino–land based, online or otherwise–during the past few decades you’re well aware of the never ending flood of ‘officially licensed’ slot machine titles. Name any TV show, movie, musician or random pop culture concept and there’s a good chance there’s been an officially licensed slot machine released with that theme. Want a Tabasco Sauce themed slot machine? We’ve got you covered. A Price Is Right slot machine? Not a problem. Slot machines featuring themes from The Bible? To get technical it’s a cellphone app but such a thing exists. A slot machine built around an Indian cuisine theme? Here you go. I’m not sure what kind of person would gravitate toward a Judge Judy slot machine but if such a person exists they’ve got their game. A slot machine devoted to the excellent though not particularly mainstream metal band Testament is available. So too is a Rick & Morty themed online slot, a generic Zombie Invasion slot machine and an Ellen DeGeneres slot machine. I could do this all night but you get the idea.
Before long there will also be officially branded NFL slot machines at land based casinos all over the US thanks to a partnership with Aristocrat Gaming. Sports slots have been done before–for example, a Vegas Golden Knights NHL themed slot machine–but this is a first for the National Football League. Here’s the 411 from the press release announcing the NFL slots and if you guessed that it’s all about ‘fan engagement’ I thank you for paying attention:
The National Football League (NFL) and Aristocrat Gaming™ have announced an exclusive multi-year slot machine licensing agreement. Under the terms of this agreement, Aristocrat will have an exclusive global license to build land-based NFL-themed slot machines as well as a non-exclusive license for virtual sports games, marking the first deal of its kind for the NFL. The partnership will provide the NFL an opportunity to further drive fan engagement through a new gaming experience.
It doesn’t look like the game is far along in development but there is this ‘sizzle reel’ video:
The press release says that players will be able to customize the game based on their favorite NFL team though it offers no details beyond that.
Rachel Hoagland, Vice President, Gaming and Partnership Management, NFL, had this to say about the partnership with Aristocrat Gaming:
“The world of casino gaming is transforming, and the NFL is thrilled to be teaming up with industry leader, Aristocrat Gaming, with their proven track record in slot machine innovation and commitment to responsible gaming. Today’s slot machines offer engaging experiences akin to popular video game consoles that our fans adore, and we believe with Aristocrat’s vision, we can bring that exciting gaming experience to fans on the casino floor looking to show their love of football.”
Hector Fernandez, President of Aristocrat Americas and EMEA, is no doubt happy to land such a high profile branding partner:
“At Aristocrat, we are changing the game. In that spirit, we are thrilled to enter this agreement with the NFL, whose similar mission made this a natural partnership. Fans worldwide love watching the NFL, and casino players worldwide enjoy Aristocrat games. This agreement presents a new opportunity to reach tens of millions of NFL and Aristocrat fans with exciting new entertainment options on the casino floor and beyond.”
In addition to the exclusive slot machine deal, the NFL and Aristocrat signed a non-exclusive virtual sports agreement though no details were included. What might come out of this will likely be more interesting than the slot machine–virtual sports are nothing new but they’re only now gaining traction in the US market. They’ve been huge internationally for awhile now meaning that the majority of virtual sports titles are based on sports popular outside of the US. You’ll find plenty of virtual soccer games but few games featuring what the rest of the world would call ‘American Football’. With the neverending advances in game and graphic technology plus the NFL licensing they could come up with something downright insane. Here’s something of an example–a ‘NFL Alumni Legends’ game developed by UK based Inspired Gaming.
As for the NFL slot machines, look for them to hit casino floors during NFL season 2023. Given that long development cycle you’d think it’ll be something pretty impressive.