Caesars has casinos around the US and is pursuing legal sports betting
Legal Sports Report

NFL Gets Into Gambling In A Big Way, Adds Caesars Entertainment As ‘Official Casino Sponsor’

Caesars NFL deal

The NFL now has a casino sponsor as legal sports betting spreads across the United States.

The pro football league announced today they have selected Caesars Entertainment Corporation as the “first ever ‘Official Casino Sponsor’ of the NFL.”

The potential of a deal was first reported by Legal Sports Report before Christmas. The other three major leagues in the US — the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball — have inked deals with MGM Resorts International.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with one of the world’s largest gaming and entertainment companies,” said Renie Anderson, senior vice president, NFL partnerships, sponsorship and consumer products. “Combining the NFL with Caesars’ expertise in world-class entertainment will provide our fans unique experiences both here in the United States and abroad.”

The deal was termed as a multiyear partnership; financial terms were not disclosed.

What’s in the Caesars + NFL deal?

The league, in its press release announcing the deal, noted it does not encompass sports betting and only applies to “casino” gaming.

Nevertheless, the league now has an overarching deal with a company that plans to aggressively pursue sports betting in US jurisdictions.

Deals between other leagues and MGM included a specific sports betting component, and also included the right to use “official data” when it comes to gambling. This appears to be almost entirely a marketing deal.

More from the league:

Beginning with the upcoming 2019 NFL playoffs, this multiyear sponsorship is focused on Caesars providing unique experiences for NFL fans by using its casino properties, celebrity chefs, premier music artists and a wide range of entertainment elements.

Caesars will have the exclusive right to use NFL trademarks in the United States and the United Kingdom to promote Caesars casino properties and activate at key NFL events including the Super Bowl and NFL Draft.

The Caesars footprint

Caesars currently runs land-based sportsbooks in both New Jersey and Mississippi. It also has an online NJ sports betting app.

Caesars will also have a sportsbook at its Pennsylvania property, Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Caesars operates properties in 13 states, including several that may legalize sports gambling in the coming years.

Already a lot of deals for Caesars, NFL teams

According to Caesars, these NFL teams have relationships with the company:

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Chicago Bears
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Philadelphia Eagles

“All of us at Caesars Entertainment are thrilled to be the first-ever casino partner of the NFL, the most prominent sports league in North America,” said Mark Frissora, president and CEO of Caesars Entertainment. “Combining the league’s 180 million fans with our 55 million Total Rewards loyalty program members will expose millions of people to the exclusive and exciting year-round opportunities at our properties.”

The American Gaming Association also issued a statement about the deal, via Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs:

The NFL’s official partnership with Caesars Entertainment is a perfect example of the value of contractual relationships between leagues and the casino gaming industry. The partnerships now in place between gaming companies and each of the four major American sports leagues enrich the fan experience and validate gaming’s role as a form of mainstream entertainment.

The NFL has come a long way on gambling

The NFL has traditionally kept gambling at arm’s length, and certainly has tried to distance itself from sports betting. The league’s desire to secure a casino partner might not have come without the US Supreme Court striking down the ban on sports betting outside of Nevada last year.

It was not that long ago that the league stopped players from attending a fantasy sports conference at a venue near a casino in Las Vegas. It all comes as the league is preparing to enter the home of gambling in the US, with the NFL Draft slated for Vegas next year and the Raiders moving there in 2020.

The league and some of its teams have done deals with DraftKings in the past, starting when it was only doing daily fantasy sports and not operating DraftKings Sportsbook.

Now, the league and its teams are signing casino deals left and right, and handing out “official casino” designations. It’s clearly a brave new world for the NFL and its relationship with gambling.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.
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