MLB moved one step closer to the total acceptance of legal sports betting Tuesday with news that the Detroit Tigers have become the first MLB team to sign a partnership deal with a gambling provider. Premier global sportsbook operator PointsBet is set to become the first Official Gaming Partner of an MLB team thanks to a deal with the Detroit Tigers in a multi-year agreement that will allow the club to cash in on the sports betting industry and PointsBet to benefit from the Tigers’ broad reach.
“The PointsBet team is excited to announce our groundbreaking deal with the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball, becoming the first legal sports betting operator in U.S. history to partner with an MLB franchise,” noted Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA. “PointsBet operates in rare space within the industry by owning our technology environment from end to end, which allows us to be extremely nimble on product innovation and personalized offerings to complement our app’s market-leading speed. We offer the most betting options in the world on MLB games via our unique PointsBetting product, and we are excited to inject a unique and robust betting proposition into the great state of Michigan.”
Gambling and MLB have a history
Historically an opponent of legal betting on its league, MLB has officially brushed aside the 1919 Black Sox Scandal and its Pete Rose scandal of 1989 with the deal. Signing on with the Tigers is a logical step for PointsBet who signed a Michigan market access deal with the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians for online casino and sports betting in January. It’s a landmark deal ahead of a 60-game MLB season that is set to throw its first pitch later this month. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
PointsBet builds on some momentum that has been front-and-center between MLB and gambling providers. It was earlier this week that theScore brand was named an Authorized Operator of Major League Baseball.
Under the agreement
PointsBet gets in-stadium signage visible on TV, including on the primary scoreboard and the right-field wall at Comerica Park as well as increased exposure on the team’s digital platforms, The District Detroit and MLB Ballpark apps. PointsBet will also benefit from branding including “The Word on Woodward” show on the Detroit Tigers Radio Network twice per week.
PointsBet, as a by-product of the partnership also becomes an authorized gaming operator to MLB which means immediate access to official MLB data and trademarks within its sportsbook.
Fans and bettors of MLB will get immediate access to PointsBet’s proven, global sports betting platform. Their easy-to-use elite-level app, their quick and seamless access to most sports betting markets around the world and their proprietary, client-focused philosophy make PointsBet look like the perfect match for the Tigers and MLB.
The NBA, NFL, and NHL have already signed marketing deals with sportsbooks. The last holdout, MLB signals the mainstreaming of legal sports betting and an acknowledgement that sports betting is going to be a huge part of the professional sports landscape going forward.
There has been a mini-rush for professional sports teams to partner with sports betting providers as of late. The Denver Broncos started the trend last month with a deal to align with one of the biggest DFS providers on the planet. With the NFL’s change in rules surrounding such deals, the floodgates were expected to open and that is what we are seeing now.
“I view baseball as arguably the most disruptable sport when it comes to innovation around betting,” PointsBet CEO Johnny Aitken said. “I think there’s a huge amount of innovation that can happen around baseball betting.”
Fans benefit too
MLB, just like all other leagues that have embraced legalized sports betting have done so in-part to enhance the fans’ overall game-day experience.
“We are thrilled to welcome PointsBet as a gaming partner of the Detroit Tigers,” said Chris Granger, Group President, Sports & Entertainment, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “Our incredible fans will love the unique experiences and innovative offerings that PointsBet’s personalized platform provides. We look forward to the fan-friendly enhancements this will bring to the game-day experience in and around Comerica Park for years to come.”
The future was now
PointsBet and theScore for that matter have managed to crack what seemed like an impenetrable bubble with their deals with MLB. 18 states and the District of Columbia are now allowing legal sports betting with many more markets seemingly ready to open up in the near future.
It took a lot for MLB to realize the importance of keeping the gambling dollars off the black-market and in the hands of the stakeholders of the game. It was inevitable that baseball shrugged off the past and came around to the idea of legalized sports betting. But nobody could have guessed just how fast that transformation would have taken place.