MGM Resorts strikes a partnership deal with yet another popular sports league.
The MLB changed its stance after years of demonizing sports gambling once the US Supreme Court struck down a US gambling law (PASPA) in May of 2018. For generations, sports leagues viewed sports gambling as a direct threat to the integrity of their games. Nonetheless, after PASPA’s removal, multiple sports leagues including Major League Baseball attempted to get a piece of the revenue pie.
As of Tuesday, November 27th, the MLB has signed on MGM Resorts International as its first official “gaming and entertainment” partner through a multi-year deal. This announcement comes 5 months after MGM partnered with the NBA and one month after closing a partnership deal with the NHL. Financial details of the MLB/MGM deal were not disclosed to the public but when comparing MGM’s deal with the NBA at 3 years for $25 million, one can assume what kind of dollar amounts are at stake.
While MGM clearly has the field advantage concerning official major league sports partnerships, the MLB may have more to gain from this deal.
The MLB has experienced a rapid rate of consistent attendance decline, dropping by 4% for the fifth time in 6 seasons. Recently attendance has dropped just under 70 million for the first time in 15 years. Aside from dropping attendance, the MLB is also struggling with fan engagement which MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred hopes sports gambling could correct.
At Tuesday’s announcement, CEO of MGM Resorts James Murren explained the arrangement as a long-term partnership aimed at expanding MGM’s portfolio and repairing engagement issues in Major League Baseball. To be exact, MGM Resorts can promote its sports gambling offers via MLB platforms like MLB Network, the official MLB website, and MLB’s Bat app. The casino venue will also have a major presence at MLB events like the Star Game and World Series; MGM’s presence will also be seen at major NBA and NHL games, networks, and events according to their individual partnership agreements.
The partnership between MGM and the MLB is not exclusive, allowing other brands to partner with the MLB. However, MGM Resorts has exclusive rights to proprietary data while partners coming in after would only have access to basic data rights.
Details of the deal entail each party’s right to access one another’s data: the MLB will have access to MGM’s database of 13 million individuals and MGM will have access to exclusive information like exit velocity and spin rate. Other details include MLB intellectual property displayed at MGM’s sportsbook and advertisements for awareness and engagement purposes.
Some analysts are accrediting this deal as a breakthrough for the MLB as baseball can offer a variety of sports betting options from single, double, home run, groundout, strikeout, and numerous prop bets. Plus, due to the frequent pauses between pitches, bettors may have more opportunities to wager during a game using live betting features.
In regards for fan engagement: those invested in a game with money on the line are more likely to stick around throughout the game even if the teams aren’t playing so well. These types of opportunities can land more fans into seats and improve attendance and interest in baseball overall.