Partnering with online gambling sites are becoming less of a gamble for U.S. sports teams as the New York Rangers on Tuesday inked a marketing partnership deal with Caesars Interactive’s World Series of Poker Online platform, or WSOP.com, in the second major marketing partnership for U.S.-based teams with the gambling industry over the last three months.
In January, the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers signed sponsorship deals with bwin.party digital entertainment’s Partypoker.
Caesars Interactive’s WSOP.com was launched last September, four months after competitor Station Casinos launched Ultimate Poker—the first fully-legal pay-to-play online poker platform in Nevada.
Regulations Easing Up
Online poker gambling is slowly becoming an accepted, regulated space almost a decade since the introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA)—the federal law regulating online gambling. The law specifically excludes fantasy sports that meet certain requirements and legal intrastate gambling, leaving openings in the law and areas of opportunity.
With openings in federal regulation, states are beginning to enter into interstate compacts to create pooled, online poker liquidity to allow pay-for-play action across state lines. Last month, Nevada and Delaware were the first to reach a landmark interstate compact that allows players in Delaware to play at the same online tables as residents in Nevada.
Online gambling is slowly becoming more legal and is gaining steam, but are vice companies like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling firms the right kind of partners for sports teams?
According to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum, why not:
“As long as the gambling site doesn’t include sports gambling or sports betting, it’s now allowed within our rules.”
But morally is it the right thing to do? Alcohol sponsors like Budwesier and Coors are some of the strongest partners for leagues and sports teams despite not being the healthiest form of promotion.
Belief systems aside, these latest gambling sponsorship deals could be a sign that both leagues and teams are open to forming partnerships with gambling properties so long as cash-strapped states searching for new sources of revenue are opening up their doors to make it easier—both legally and operationally—for their residents to engage in games of chance.
With sponsorship dollars at stake, sports teams are more than willing to take a seat at the table.