Major League Baseball is partnering with MGM Resorts, which will be its first partner in the sports betting space.
This is a big turnaround from the league’s previous stance on sports betting. Not so long ago, it was fighting tooth and nail to oppose the ending of the federal ban on the activity.
Now it is following the example of the other major sports leagues in embracing this burgeoning sector and cashing in on it.
Details of the partnership
This is the third major sports league that MGM Resorts International has become a partner of. It also have agreements with the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Hockey League (NHL).
As part of this new deal with the MLB, it will be able to use the league’s logo and official data for its sports betting offering.
There are two parts to the data-sharing agreement. The live feed feature currently is not exclusive to MGM. However, what will be exclusive is MGM being the sole sportsbook that can gain access to enhanced stats.
Rob Manfred, the MLB Commissioner said of the new partnership: “We are pleased to partner with MGM Resorts International, a clear industry leader in the sports gaming area, to work together on bringing innovative experiences to baseball fans and MGM customers. Our partnership with MGM will help us navigate this evolving space responsibly, and we look forward to the fan engagement opportunities ahead.”
The CEO of MGM Resorts International says that there was great excitement within the organization as a result of this deal.
MGM is clearly looking to position itself as a leader in sports betting in the United States with each of these partnerships. Many people are wondering if it will now complete the set of major sports leagues and seek a deal with the NFL’s powers that be.
Currently, MGM Resorts International operates casinos in three states where sports betting is legal: Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey.
It also has a major presence in numerous other states that are potentially going to legalize sports betting in 2019 and beyond.
The league’s traditional stance
Many people are wondering why the major sports leagues have quickly done a U-turn on their views of sports betting. For many years, they were lobbying and taking legal action to try to keep the federal ban on sports betting intact.
Numerous lawsuits were filed and they are now facing countersuits as a result. Monmouth Park in New Jersey, for example, is suing the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL and NCAA for damages worth in the region of $150m.
The race track wanted to open a sportsbook in 2014, but these leagues opposed it via the legal system. The park is now suing them for loss of earnings. It lost the initial case, but is now appealing the decision.
Each of these major leagues wants to maintain the integrity of their sports. They also don’t want other parties benefiting if they are not getting a slice of the pie. This is why the MLB and NBA in particular have been pushing for the introduction of integrity fees
These are fees that would come from every sports bet made on a given event under the league’s umbrella.
They are working on lobbying governments on a state by state basis to introduce some form of integrity fee into their final sports betting bills. None have done so to date, as it would significantly undercut those operating the sportsbooks.
There is also talk of further licensing of official league data to sportsbooks, rather than allowing them to use it for free.
Defeating illegal betting markets
Numerous partnerships have been made between the leagues (and their teams) with sports betting companies since the federal ban came to a close.
One of the main reasons they want a good relationship with gambling companies is to help defeat the illegal sports betting market.
Both the operators and the leagues have a common goal in doing so. The leagues also want to receive fair compensation for their intellectual property, such as official league data. These partnerships allow a way of doing so. There is also the age-old adage – if you can’t beat them, join them.
There is a lot of money on the table. Nielson Sports conducted a recent study and its projections show that the MLB could stand to make $1.1bn in revenue each year as a result of sports betting. This doesn’t include the possibility of integrity fees coming in down the line either.