This new trend of US sports franchises joining forces with gambling companies is starting to catch on.
On Friday, Horseshoe Baltimore announced that it has entered into an official partnership with the Baltimore Ravens. It is third such alliance between a gambling company and a US sports team and the second involving the NFL. The news came via press releases from the Ravens and Caesars.
For now, the partnership has nothing to do with sports betting.
Maryland is one of many states that considered a sports betting bill this year, but legalization requires a voter referendum at the ballot box. With the 2018 midterms upon us, 2020 represents the first chance for forward movement on that front.
Horseshoe + Ravens
Many details come from The Baltimore Sun. According to the report, the multi-year marketing deal places Horseshoe Baltimore as an “official casino partner” to the Ravens. The agreement is non-exclusive, as the team is apparently shopping around for additional official partners.
It is pretty much a no-brainer for Horseshoe.
The property lives in the heart of downtown Baltimore, practically in the shadows of M&T Bank Stadium. It is struggling, too. New competition from MGM National Harbor has dented the bottom line of casinos in the region, the Horseshoe very much included.
This partnership is so natural, in fact, that it has been in place since Sept. 7. Friday’s announcement seems to represent an expansion of that deal, however, including the use of team logos within Horseshoe’s promotions. The property’s three-level bar will be rebranded as a Ravens bar, too.
For what it’s worth, the ‘Shoe is also in the same proverbial ballpark as Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball.
The intersection of sports and gambling
For all of the timidness the leagues have shown toward toward sports betting, team owners are jumping right in.
Jerry Jones made the first move last month. The owner of the Dallas Cowboys partnered his team with Winstar World just a few days after NFL owners approved relaxed rules for casino sponsorship.
Shortly thereafter, the Vegas Golden Knights did something similar with William Hill. Theirs was the first such union involving the NHL and the first to include a dedicated sports betting company. Will Hill has sportsbooks in just about every state with legal wagering.
Although Maryland is far from legal wagering, the prospect certainly factored into the negotiations. Here’s Erin Chamberlain, the property’s general manager, on the Ravens deal:
“We’re hoping that this agreement would put us in a great position should we achieve that goal in Maryland. It’s obviously something that we think would be very beneficial to the casinos and drive revenue that would benefit the education fund and the state overall.”
Some leagues are more progressive than others, too. The NBA makes up half of the inaugural league-level alliance, allowing MGM to use its data and logos as its official gaming partner. That title is exclusive, though the data usage is not.
So far, no other US sports league has signed a deal with a gambling company.
That likely won’t be the case for very much longer, though. As was the case in the heyday of daily fantasy sports, the smartest leagues and teams will embrace these types of alliances.
If sponsorship arrangements in other markets materialize fully in the US, you should expect to see much more of this going forward — including at the league level.