MGM Bets on a Bright Future With NBA Partnership

By Lamar Johnson

  • NBA-MGM partnership makes it the first professional sport to allow legalized betting
  • 75% of NBA players are black and will split revenues 50-50 with the league

Move over boxing there is a new sport looking to take Las Vegas gambling to the next level. The National Basketball Association announced an official betting partnership with MGM International Resorts (MGM +2.80%), the first of its kind. This deal gives the casino access to NBA and WNBA branding and stats, keeping the league comprised of 75% black players at the forefront of professional sports.

Why This Matters: The Supreme Court ruled sports betting wasn’t a federal crime under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act back in May. Making the writing on the wall and the path towards legalized sports betting very clear. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had advocated for the change since 2014, now his league is the first to embrace the change.

It makes sense for the NBA to get a cut of betting profits, and Silver stated they chose a deal where he felt the league was treated equitably. Players will split the basketball related income 50-50 with the league, so the black bodies being bet on should also see a cut of the money. In terms of the WNBA, it could give women another bargaining chip as they seek more equitable pay.

The two corporations were already linked in a number of ways. MGM currently sponsors the NBA’s Vegas Summer League and CEO Jim Murren also owns the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. In this non-exclusive deal it calls for cross-promotion and makes MGM the official betting sponsor. They have the rights to utilize NBA and WNBA data and media for three years at a price of at least $25 million, according to ESPN. After having sports betting previously restricted to Nevada, the NBA went with a partner already versed in regulatory measures as its vehicle for profit.

Situational Awareness: With the deal in place well before the 2018-19 NBA season starts, the mechanisms to begin betting should also be ready in time the season opener. If all goes well, other casinos and leagues could follow suit as MGM currently operates in four states including; Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada and New Jersey. They will soon add New York and Massachusetts to that list. The NHL has already stated a desire to follow suit, while the NFL and MLB could be slower to hop on the train.

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