MGM Resorts announced this week its title sponsorship of Major League Baseball’s Opening Series in Japan.
The deal adds another log to the fire of the gaming giant’s ambitions to earn a casino license in Japan. The country legalized limited casino gaming in 2018, authorizing three licenses that major casino companies covet.
Following passage of that legislation, MGM CEO Jim Murren gave us a cautious but hopeful statement:
MGM is proud to have provided academic research and economic analysis as well as facilitating numerous study sessions with experts from around the world.
Today’s passage allows us to advance our relationships with key stakeholders and together create a coalition of Japanese business partners who will collectively define a vision for a uniquely Japanese, world-class integrated resort.
Marketing end of MLB deal on display
The MGM-MLB sponsorship for the Tokyo games extends from the larger marketing and data agreement inked in November.
“In just a few months as partners, MGM Resorts has really embraced this relationship and expanded their presence in the league,” said Noah Garden, MLB Executive Vice President, Commerce. “MGM Resorts will have a great opportunity to engage with and experience the extraordinary passion of baseball fans in Japan. We’re excited to have our new partners become such a significant part of our games in Tokyo.”
MGM also partnered with the NBA and NHL in similar sports betting arrangements last year.
What the MGM-MLB Japan deal entails
The gaming behemoth will put forward a significant fan-facing presence at the Opening Series. According to information released by the company:
As a new league partner, the 2019 MGM MLB Opening Series will be MGM Resorts’ first major marketing activation around an MLB event. MGM plans to activate at fan-facing events outside the ballpark, while also having its logo on a jersey patch on the Athletics’ right sleeve during the Opening Series.
The Oakland A’s and Seattle Mariners will play two regular-season games March 20-21 at the Tokyo Dome. The teams also will participate in exhibition games against Japanese teams Yomiuri Giants and Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.
The series will be a homecoming for legendary Japanese baseball superstar Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle. Ichiro is one of the most successful players in the history of baseball in Japan, and will play in the games for Seattle in what could be his final appearance.
MGM playing all the angles
Japan will be new to traditional casino gaming once it opens its integrated resort concepts. And MGM, like others, wants to gain a foothold from the start.
Here’s more from a July MGM statement:
MGM Resorts has a full-time development team in Japan and for the past four years has been engaged in discussions in Japan’s cultural and business communities.
The company believes it is well-positioned in Japan and has been preparing for this possibility by becoming immersed in Japanese culture to better its understanding of Japan’s unique history and heritage.
MGM Resorts has also embarked on enhancing its cultural commitment to Japan in the United States through the sponsorship of two world premiere Kabuki events with the famous Shochiku entertainment company and by showcasing established and emerging Japanese artists in the Company’s art collections across the country.