Legalized gambling on sports is coming. It’s already in three states. Multiple of other states have something in the works. It’s coming. There’s no reason leagues and teams should be putting their heads in the sand. The quicker business deals are done the better, and the NBA is continuing to lead the way. The NBA is the first league with an official betting sponsor as it announced a deal with MGM Resorts.
There are a few important things to notice in the deal. First, the NBA will provide official statistics to MGM. Selling data is a big growth point for the NBA, and as it continues to get more and more in-depth data, it will continue to figure out ways to monetize that information. In this case, MGM can now have official NBA data which is important especially when it comes to player prop bets. Player props will be a huge area of growth because it allows for multiple types of bets that aren’t focused on the game outcome. Player’s are heavily marketed in the NBA, and often times fans are more engaged with players than they are teams. One only needs to look at people who live outside of Cleveland to find that there are a ton of LeBron fans. James is not the only one with that sort of following. Player prop bets can also increase the number of bets taken in a game due to live betting. Gamblers will eventually be able to wager from their seat at home on things such as player points in a quarter, player points in the next five minutes, or player points from a certain point in the game until the end of regulation.
The NBA providing data also continues the theme of the integrity of data and integrity of the game. There was push by the NBA for an integrity fee from each state government where the state or state’s gaming commission would pay a percentage to the league to monitor betting as well as outcomes. The NBA has the data already. The entire point was to leverage the fact that people tend to not trust league, teams, and players sometimes. There are always rumblings of things being fixed. The NBA — which has historical data and the best data when it comes to the league — would help to make sure nothing is fixed or fishy. They already do so, they might as well try and monetize it.
MGM will now be able to use all the NBA’s marks and logos which creates brand recognition and gives the gaming company a reputational boost when it comes to betting on the NBA. Fans may trust the official gaming partner more than another bookmaker just because of the association. It could also give MGM a leg up when teams start to partner with local books and casinos. Once sports gambling is allowed in-venue — through kiosks or some other mechanism — MGM will have an even great advantage. It’s a smart move by a gaming brand that already has brand recognition in the gaming community.
Now that the NBA has broken the ice on finding a gaming partner, expect other leagues to move quickly. The NFL — which is the most bet on sport in America — may actually be last to move due to its insistence that gambling is bad for the league and the integrity of the game. That will change now that owners see that the NBA landed a rumored 3-year $25 million deal.