NBA Recruits Stars Group as Official Partner and Signs South American Partner

Once again, the NBA is out in front of the race to monetize brand power and official game data as legal betting spreads across the U.S. The deal, a first for the parent company of PokerStars, is the NBA’s second and similar in detail to its landmark partnership with MGM Resorts International. Also, the NBA is taking its gaming JV model south of the border with a deal naming Uruguay’s Supermatch betting monopoly as an official NBA partner.

The National Basketball Association has signed a partnership agreement with PokerStars parent company, The Stars Group.

The multi-year deal, a first for the Canadian online operator, which runs a remote sports book in New Jersey and has a betting license pending in Pennsylvania, gives it the league’s imprimatur in the United States and access to official NBA betting data with the right to promote the NBA and its trademarks and logos across its platforms, including PokerStars.

The NBA, in turn, will promote The Stars Group across its digital assets, including NBA TV, NBA.com, the NBA App and NBA social media platforms.

Matt Primeaux, The Stars Group senior vice president of strategy and operations, hailed the agreement for its “access to the NBA’s real-time data and intellectual property,” saying this “further enhances consumer confidence in our offering and acts as an official endorsement of our BetStars sportsbook offering here in the States.”

Scott Kaufman-Ross, head of Fantasy & Gaming for the NBA, called it a “dynamic partnership” that will “create authentic fan engagement while leveraging Stars’ global expertise to further optimize the fan experience.”

The deal in essence is the same as the partnership the league concluded this summer with MGM Resorts International, a landmark agreement which set the template for official partnerships the casino giant subsequently struck with the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.

For years, the major pro sports league fought the spread of legal sports betting beyond Nevada. But the motivation clearly has shifted since the U.S. Supreme Court in May nullified a longstanding federal ban, in effect, throwing what was a multibillion-dollar underground industry into the open market. For the leagues the aim now is get maximum monetization out of their brands, their official game data and the rest of their intellectual property. For corporate gaming, access to the promotional value of those brands, along with the precious game data that will enable them to expand their product ranges, have emerged as major incentives as more states pursue legalization and new expansion opportunities present themselves.

Both also recognize a need to hedge their respective positions amid the possibility that the federal government may decide to intervene in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling with regulations aimed at preventing gambling-related corruption, a big part of which revolves around the issue of compensation for the use of official league data.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York already has included the issue in his case for federal regulation, and the draft of a bill proposed by retiring Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah would require betting operators to settle all wagers using only “authorized” data licensed and provided by the leagues

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