The National Football League now has a big casino sponsor as legal sports betting spreads rapidly across the U.S. state by state. The biggest professional league in North America announced they have now selected Caesars Entertainment Corporation as the “first ever Official Casino Sponsor of the NFL.” The potential of a deal was first reported before Christmas. The other three major leagues in the U.S., the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, have already inked deals with MGM Resorts International.
“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” said Renie Anderson, Senior Vice President, NFL Partnerships, Sponsorship, and Consumer Products. “Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world-class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.” The deal was termed as a multi-year partnership, but financial terms were not disclosed.
What’s the Deal?
The league, in its press release announcing the deal, was quick to state it does not encompass sports betting and only applies to “casino” gaming. Nevertheless, the league now has an overarching deal with a company that has already begun to aggressively pursue sports betting in U.S. states and jurisdictions.
The deal between the NFL and Caesar is a bit different than the previous deals between the other major professional leagues and MGM as they specifically included a sports betting product. They were sure to also include the right to use “official data” when it comes to sports gambling. This appears to be almost entirely a marketing deal to which the NFL stated:
“Beginning with the upcoming 2019 NFL playoffs, this multi-year sponsorship is focused on Caesars providing unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists, and a wide range of entertainment elements. Caesars will have the exclusive rights to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.”
The Caesars footprint
Caesars currently runs land-based sportsbooks in both New Jersey and Mississippi. It also has an online NJ sports betting app and more are to come online and on land. For instance, Caesars will also have a sportsbook at its Pennsylvania property, Harrah’s Philadelphia.
Caesars operates properties in 13 states, including several that may legalize sports gambling in the coming years.
Lots of deals for Caesars, NFL teams
According to Caesars, many NFL teams already have relationships with the company. The Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders and last year’s Super Bowl champions, Philadelphia Eagles. While these individual signings are lucrative in and of themselves, getting a deal with the entire NFL is a big get for Caesars, especially considering the moves MGM already has in place. The NFL is the big dog of the North American sports leagues when it comes to profits and reach.
“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America,” said Mark Frissora, President and CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”
The NFL Changes Course on Gambling
The NFL has historically kept sports gambling, or gambling of any kind for that matter, at arm’s length, and initially tried to distance itself from the wave of legal sports betting. It’s easy to see that the league’s desire to secure a casino partner would not have come without the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the ban on sports betting outside of Nevada last year.
Many may not remember, but it was not that long ago that the league stopped players from even attending fantasy sports conferences anywhere near a casino in Las Vegas. When the first whispers of legalized sports gambling came about, the NFL was one of the first to lobby hard against it. Then, once it passed, they were also the first to insist on “integrity fees.” All of this comes with the league about to enter the mecca of all things gambling in the U.S., Las Vegas, when the Raiders move in 2020.
The NFL and some of its teams have even done deals with DraftKings in the past, beginning when it was only doing daily fantasy sports and not operating their sportsbooks. Now, the league and its teams are signing casino deals left and right and handing out “official casino” designations. Things change fast when you hit the big time. The NFL has certainly changed its tune, and every new deal they ink is more proof of just how far-reaching, and profitable, legalized sports gambling will be.