NBA and MGM Resorts Sign First US Sportsbook Business Deal

NBA MGM Resorts Sports Data Deal

MGM Resorts will be the NBA for official basketball data on a multi-year deal.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and MGM Resorts International became the first sports league and sportsbook to sign a partnership deal. It is a groundbreaking agreement, because only two ago the NBA was party to a 6-year legal battle to keep legal sportsbooks to open in 46 US states.

Full terms of the deal were not disclosed, the MGM/NBC agreement is multi-year in nature. The NBA and WNBA will share official date with MGM Resorts International, who will pay pro basketball for the usage of the data.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has maintained that accurate data is a key to the integrity of sports betting. MGM Resorts is the first sportsbook operator to agree with the NBA’s leader and sign an official data contract.

The resulting deal could have a cascade effect on the entire US sports betting industry.

Jim Murren on NBA Sports Data Deal

Jim Murren, the longtime chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, said of the deal on Tuesday, “I know the value of data. To be able to have the official NBA data for sports bettors around the world is very valuable. I was willing to, and I’ve paid for that.”

The heads of the two businesses have been in talks for weeks on a data-sharing arrangement. Adam Silver believes the NBA and WNBA have been compensated the right amount for their data.

Adam Silver: “It’s a Leap of Faith”

Adam Silver said the deal is limited in scope, because both sides feel more comfortable seeing how the arrangement works and reassessing on the next contract.

Silver said of the current deal, “It’s a leap of faith on both sides. It’s a deal moderate in length where I think we can both step back and assess as we go and see, ‘Is it working? Is this deal fair? Are we providing the consumers with the right type of experience?”

Sports Leagues’ Attitudes on Gambling

No other sports league involved in the PASPA lawsuit against New Jersey has agreed to an official arrangement with a gaming company yet. The various leagues have different stances on sports betting.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said he is open-minded about legalized sports betting, but would play hardball with the US Congress if sportsbooks do not compensate leagues for their intellectual property and integrity oversight.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a wait-and-see approach, declining to give any tacit approval of legal sportsbooks. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL is less affected by sports betting and is willing to follow the policies set by the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

Don Garber on Sports Betting

MLS Commissioner Don Garber, whose league was not a part of the PASPA lawsuit, has been a vocal supporter of legal sports betting for several years, saying American sports leagues should come in “out of the Dark Ages.”

Garber said in October 2017, “Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football (soccer) around the world. Go to a game in Chelsea or in Stamford Bridge, somebody’s coming to your seat or in your box with a tout sheet, and you can place a bet.”

“I am a big proponent that it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it. I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.”

Jay Monahan on Sports Betting

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in April 2018 much the same as Garber. A month before the US Supreme Court struck down PAPSA, Monahan said regulations “better ensure the integrity of your competitions”, but legal sports gambling in the United States would help pro golf reach a “much broader audience.”

The PGA Commissioner said at the time, “The point some people will make is that we are now actively supporting legalized gambling. Well, yes, we are.”

Which Sports Leagues Will Sign Next?

With the NBA finding its way into the sports betting industry, observers can expect to see the other top sports leagues follow suit soon. MLB, MLS, and the NHL are more amenable to sports betting than the NFL, so they should follow suit soon enough.

Of course, one reason Roger Goodell justifies his $40 million a year salary is his ability to find new revenue sources for NFL owners. With two years of falling tv ratings and a new season coming a little over a month away, the NFL might be more motivated to generate sportsbook-related cash sooner than anyone but Major League Baseball.

Major sports circuits like the PGA, LPGA, ATP, and WTA are global enterprises, so they already have a international ties to gaming companies. In time, all should sign data sharing deals with sports betting companies like MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, William Hill, and Paddy-Power Betfair. The next question will be whether those same leagues sign sponsorship deals akin to the English Premier League’s deals.