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PlayUp Signs Sponsorship Deal With Texas Based Panther City Lacrosse Club

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • PlayUp has announced a sponsorship deal with the Panther City Lacrosse Club of the National Lacrosse League (NLL).
  • This is PlayUp’s first sponsorship deal based in Texas and ‘believed to be’ the largest team sponsorship deal in NLL history.
  • The Panther City Lacrosse Club is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

The state of Texas has become the site of an interesting ‘speculative sponsorship play’ by US facing sportsbooks. Several sportsbooks including PointsBet (MLS Austin FC), Fubo Gaming (MLS Houston Dynamo) and Betway (NBA Dallas Mavericks) have signed promotional partnerships with Texas based teams despite the fact that sports betting is not yet available in the Lone Star State. The people of Texas have always been enthusiastic gamblers but the reality is that the government of the state ranks among the most virulent ‘anti-gaming’ forces anywhere.

When Texas was granted statehood in 1845, the initial constitution prohibited all forms of gambling. Unfortunately, the status of gaming today isn’t too far removed. Parimutuel betting was legalized in 1933 at the height of horse racing’s popularity in the United States only to be banned once again in 1937. It would finally return in 1987 with simulcast wagering added in 1991. Aside from that, the only officially sanctioned gambling in Texas is the state lottery which began in 1992 offering a typical assortment of draw and scratch off games.

For years, Texas has used taxpayer money to try and deny Native American tribes the right to regulate gaming on Tribal land. In 1996, a number of gaming businesses opened on tribal land but were closed down by the state. For the most part, the state has held the upper hand legally but during the summer of 2021, Federal legislation included the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which allowed them to offer electronic bingo games (and their Class II slot machine derivatives) on tribal land. As a result, there are now three tribal gaming properties in Texas: the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center in El Paso (Ysleta del Sur Pueblo), Naskila Gaming in Livingston (Alabama-Coushatta) and the Lucky Eagle Casino In Eagle Pass (Kickapoo). The Kickapoo tribe has been federally recognized since 1985 and thus has been able to avoid much of the legal onslaught from the state.

The latest sportsbook to affiliate with a Texas professional sports team is PlayUp which has announced a partnership with the Fort Worth based Panther City Lacrosse Club of the National Lacrosse League (NLL). Their press release is a good explanation of what they–and the other sportsbooks with sponsorship deals in Texas–are hoping to do. Here’s the overview of the PlayUp deal:

PlayUp today announced a groundbreaking agreement with the Panther City Lacrosse Club of the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

The agreement sees PlayUp become Panther City’s first sports gaming partner. The relationship also designates PlayUp as a Panther City Founding Partner, Fantasy Sport Partner, and eSports Partner, in a deal that is believed the be the largest team sponsorship arrangement in NLL history.

The agreement also includes a market access element. Should sports betting become legalized in Texas in the future, the partnership could potentially lead to market access for PlayUp in what would be one of the most lucrative markets throughout the U.S. The market access would be subject to Panther City Lacrosse Club receiving a sports betting license and pending requisite regulatory approvals.

Texas does have regulated daily fantasy sports (DFS) and that has been a popular method for sportsbooks to begin building a database of potential customers. Worst case scenario–they get their brand in front of the 30 million plus people that live in Texas and perhaps some ancillary revenue from DFS and/or eSports. Best case scenario–they get entree into Texas sports betting via this partnership. State governments have become enamored with the idea of ‘juicing in’ the local sports teams and that is a very likely scenario in Texas.

Here’s some of the branding and promotional elements of the deal:

  • Prominent logo placement on the Panther City jersey
  • Branding opportunities on the media banner backdrop, team website and commercial opportunities during locally broadcasted games
  • VIP hospitality to further enhance PlayUp’s unparalleled customer service offering
  • In stadium branding including a main entrance brand station, on-field logos and board signage at regular season and post season home games

Here’s some background on the Panther City team:

Playing in the state-of-the-art Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, Panther City is led by some of the most prominent names in the sport. 25-year sports industry leader Greg Bibb serves as President and CEO alongside 20-year veteran Bob Hamley as General Manager/ Vice President of Lacrosse Operations. On the field the team is led by Head Coach Tracey Kelusky, a 14-year NLL veteran who was inducted into the NLL Hall of Fame in 2016 and won two championships while playing in the league.    

PlayUp USA Chairman Dennis Drazin made clear that his company’s longterm goal is being part of a legal sports betting ecosystem in Texas:

“Texas is an evolving state in terms of sports betting and should legalization occur, we want to ensure we are positioned to maximize that opportunity. We are excited by this partnership with Panther City as it gives PlayUp a great opportunity to grow our brand and connect directly with fans throughout the state.”

Panther City President and CEO Greg Bibb is happy to have a new sponsor:

“We are thrilled to welcome PlayUp as a Partner of Panther City Lacrosse Club. We look forward to introducing our fans to the PlayUp brand and we are proud to wear the PlayUp name on our game jersey.” 

Look for more deals of this type in the future–in Texas and other major states that could potentially open to sports betting.

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