The NFL announced this week that it will allow sponsorships from sportsbook operators, as well as from authorize betting lounges. That’s a step closer to permitting on-site wagering in pro football stadiums. But for now, gambling on athletic events held in NFL stadiums is banned; betting windows and on-site lounges are not permitted.
However, betting lounges may begin to pop up in a few stadiums as early as the upcoming season. The stadiums must be in one of the 14 states where sports betting is currently allowed, explained Chris Halpin, NFL chief strategy and growth officer.
We’ve decided to allow betting lounges,” Halpin explained. “These will be similar to daily fantasy lounges, located in a discreet, adult only area. There will be a way to bet, but we’re not opening betting windows. Rather, the stadiums could show betting via cellphones.”
Eligible NFL teams will choose a sportsbook sponsor and that sponsor’s signage will be placed in the stadium. However, the signage cannot be placed on the stadium’s lower level and must include the label “sponsor.”
This week’s change in the NFL policy comes after many months of study and finally, approval by the NFL Sports Betting Committee. The NFL already permits casino sponsors, however, no sports betting can be included in those sponsorship deals.
It has been reported that seven regions with an NFL team will have sportsbooks, or are likely to make a deal in 2020. These include the states of Nevada, New Jersey, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and Tennessee.
“We feel positive about how sports betting is evolving state by state,” Halpin said. “We’re very excited about how sports gambling is developing, and now we’re doing more to develop the space. We’re feeling very good about how it’s developing.”
The NFL officially named Caesars Entertainment as the league’s first casino sponsor in January 2019. However, individual NFL teams can also have casino sponsorships.
Beginning in early 2019, NFL teams were allowed to accept advertising from fantasy sports operators and casinos that also offered sports betting. However, that was only as long as the team did not directly promote those sportsbooks. Teams are also allowed to sell their stadium naming rights to casinos.
2019 Marketing Deal with the NFL
In a $30 million deal spanning three years, Caesars Entertainment received exclusive rights to use NFL trademarks in both the US and the UK to promote Caesar’s casinos and league events, such as the NFL Draft and the Super Bowl.
When it comes to individual teams, the Philadelphia Eagles has made a marketing deal with Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack, which is operated by Caesars. That deal includes branding and in-stadium signs, Eagles Legends appearances, and direct mail and email marketing. The Philadelphia deal will continue to build on Caesars’ exclusive deal with the NFL.
In comparison to other professional sports leagues, the NFL is behind the times. The NBA, NHL, and MLB have long had partnerships with MGM Resorts International as well as with a variety of sportsbooks.
For example, the MLB signed an agreement making FanDuel its official gaming partner and sportsbook operator. FanDuel also has similar deals with the NHL and NBA.
D.C. United Soccer Team Sponsors with Caesars
Earlier this week, Caesars Entertainment announced it had signed a sponsorship deal with Major League Soccer team D.C. United. As part of that deal, the “Caesars Sports” logo will be placed on D.C. United jerseys. Caesars Entertainment will also have other sponsorships at the team’s Audi Field.
The Caesars Entertainment deal with D.C. United is only the second sleeve branding deal in the MLS, and it’s the first sleeve deal to feature a casino company.
It’s certain with the spread of legalized sports gambling, more deals will be made with both the major professional sports leagues, as well as the individual teams.