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PointsBet Canada Announces Partnership With Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • PointsBet Canada is the second gaming company to announce a partnership agreement with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE).
  • MLSE owns the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs, NBA Toronto Raptors, MLS Toronto FC, CFL Toronto Argonauts and the AHL Toronto Marlies.
  • Late last week, Flutter Entertainment brands FanDuel, PokerStars signed a similar deal with Canada’s largest professional sports conglomerate.

That sure didn’t take long….late last week, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment announced a partnership with Flutter PLC brands FanDuel and PokerStars. Here’s how a Flutter press release described the deal:

PokerStars and FanDuel Sportsbook, part of Flutter Entertainment, today announced their partnership together with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). The strategic partnership sees the FanDuel Sportsbook designated as an official sports betting partner, and PokerStars as an official gaming partner. The two will unite in this major deal to offer fans and gaming players in Ontario a powerful combination of entertainment through leading sports, poker and casino gaming experiences. The launch of PokerStars is subject to successful registration by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and execution of an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario.

This partnership, a first of its kind for Flutter Entertainment plc in North America, offers FanDuel and PokerStars an opportunity to showcase their brands to some of the most loyal sports fans in Canada. In addition to the use of MLSE team marks in advertising and marketing, FanDuel Sportsbook, PokerStars Casino and PokerStars will be featured prominently throughout Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors games including rink board and on-court signage. The partnership will also allow FanDuel Sportsbook and PokerStars to collaborate on marketing integrations with all of MLSE’s teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies.

The key takeaway–for me at least–was the fact that the deal was not exclusive. In my analysis of the partnership I suggested that MLSE not make any exclusive deals to maximize their financial upside:

….there’s nothing in the press release about the deal between Flutter PLC and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment being an exclusive. I know if *I* was running the show at MLSE I wouldn’t do any type of exclusive sports betting deals. Given their power in the market and the potential of the Ontario gaming ecosystem I’d sign on as many ‘official sports betting partners’ as I could.

We didn’t have to wait long at all to see MLSE’s next move. Earlier today, a piping hot press release hit my desk from the good people at PointsBet. I read it and felt a sense of ‘deja vu all over again’:

PointsBet Canada and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) have agreed to a new multi-year agreement that would see PointsBet become an Official Sports Betting Partner of MLSE’s professional teams: Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), Toronto Marlies (AHL), Toronto Raptors (NBA), Toronto Argonauts (CFL), and Toronto FC (MLS).

Neither press release went into much detail about the specifics of the partnership–Flutter came with more buzzwords talking about ‘collaborating on marketing integrations’ but PointsBet focused instead on their business and their entry in the Ontario market:

PointsBet, a cutting-edge bookmaker originally founded in the mature sports wagering market of Australia, has quickly become one of the fastest growing operators in North America. On April 4, PointsBet Canada officially entered the country’s new legal sports wagering market, accepting its first bet just 50 seconds into the launch of Ontario’s regulated market. The company prides itself on offering unmatched speed and ease of use across every customer touchpoint, as well as the deepest slate of pre-game and in-play betting options in the world, thanks to owning and controlling its technology.

Scott Vanderwel, Chief Executive Officer of PointsBet Canada, understands the dominant position that MLSE holds in Ontario’s pro sports ecosystem:

“This is a historic deal for PointsBet Canada. You rarely get the opportunity to partner with an organization that spans across all four professional leagues through the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts, and offers year-round entertainment within the sports market in Canada. We are thrilled to be partnering with MLSE on this innovative and exciting relationship.”

Nic Sulsky, Chief Commercial Officer for PointsBet Canada, added these comments about MLSE:

“MLSE’s franchises are some of our country’s most iconic teams. We are excited to partner with an organization where winning and delivering championships is part of their DNA and resonates with fans across Ontario and Canada.”

Jordan Vader, Senior VP of Global Partnerships at MLSE welcomed PointsBet Canada to his company’s sponsor roster:

“We happily welcome PointsBet Canada as a partner of the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argos as they enter the Ontario market with a well-established reputation in the sports betting industry. We look forward to utilizing our partnership to provide 19+ fans of our teams with new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sports they love with a trusted operator in PointsBet that prioritizes responsible gaming.”

Vader better get used to doing quotes like this as I’ve got a feeling he’ll be doing a lot of them. As I noted in the report on the MLSE/Flutter deal I’m generally skeptical of promotional partnerships with sports teams/leagues but this one makes a lot of sense. A sportsbook can lock up all of the pro sports teams in Ontario (with the exception of the MLB Blue Jays) and as these teams have a high profile throughout Canada it gets their brand recognized in other provinces that might be setting up competitive gaming markets in the future.

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