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You Can’t Bet On Celtics Games Yet, But The NBA And MGM Deal Is A Promising Sign

The National Basketball Association has named MGM Resorts International as its official gaming partner.

But despite the fact MGM will open up a $950 million casino resort in Springfield before the end of August, gamblers still won’t be able to bet on one of the NBA’s and Massachusetts’ most storied pro sports franchises there.

Or any other team, from any other state, in any other Massachusetts gaming facility.

During a July 31 New York City press conference, the NBA announced it has inked a new multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts. The historic deal will make the casino gaming and hospitality giant the official gaming partner of both the NBA and WNBA.

But it’s more than just an advertising and marketing deal. Both sides say it will be an innovative collaboration for exciting opportunities to engage with each other’s world-class brands and products.

Given the fact that the two have a strong existing relationship, the deal is a win for both parties. MGM Resorts already owns a WNBA team, the Las Vegas Aces. MGM has been the title sponsor of the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas for the past two years.

A first for the NBA and MGM

Most significant of all, it marks the NBA’s first ever partnership with a sports betting operator and MGM’s first with a major pro sports league.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called the partnership “groundbreaking”:

“As the landscape for sports betting in the US continues to evolve at a rapid pace, MGM Resorts is a proven gaming leader for us to work with on this groundbreaking partnership. Our collaboration will result in the best possible gaming and entertainment experience for consumers through the use of accurate, real-time NBA and WNBA data, and our collective efforts to maintain and enhance the integrity of our games.”

MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said it will revolutionize sports betting in this country:

“The NBA has always been an innovator at the forefront of sports evolution, and MGM Resorts is thrilled to partner with the league to revolutionize sports betting in the United States. Integrating the NBA’s assets and having official NBA data showcased across the MGM Resorts platforms will provide us with a distinct advantage and instill more confidence in knowing that our data is directly from the NBA.”

MGM sportsbooks will get official data

MGM Resorts’ sportsbooks, including those already open in Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, will now use official NBA and WNBA data and branding.

The pair will also partner in an effort to protect the integrity of NBA and WNBA games through real-time data sharing. There are plans to work together on an array of digital content.

The NBA will promote MGM Resorts across its digital assets, including:

  • NBA TV
  • NBA.com
  • The NBA Mobile App
  • NBA social media platforms

Additionally, MGM Resorts will promote the NBA through its online and retail sports betting platforms.

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Not much for Massachusetts

Unfortunately, this all means very little for Massachusetts right now.

MGM still has plans to open the MGM Springfield casino resort on Aug. 24. It will be the state’s second commercial casino, after Penn National Gaming opened up the Plainridge Park Casino in June 2015, becoming the state’s first. However, Springfield will not have a sportsbook open at launch.

The state chose to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports operations in 2016. However, Massachusetts is not one of the small handful of states that passed sports betting legislation pending a change in federal law, prior to the US Supreme Court decision lifting a federal sports betting ban in May.

The recent session of the Massachusetts legislature ended July 31 without a sports betting bill being put forward by lawmakers.

Could Massachusetts get sports betting in 2019?

The chairman of the House Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies has indicated lawmakers are researching sports betting. They plan to have sports betting legislation on the agenda in early 2019.

Despite the NBA and MGM’s new partnership, Massachusetts residents will still have to go out of state if they want to bet on their beloved Boston Celtics.

They may even be forced to do so when the $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor opens sometime in 2019.

That said, the NBA embracing sports betting and a casino partner like MGM leaves a strong impression. It indicates widespread US sports betting isn’t far down the road, and something Massachusetts will likely be a part of.

Martin Derbyshire

About

Martin Derbyshire has more than ten years experience in the world of poker and gambling. He contributes to a number of publications dealing with the US regulated online gambling market. He has traveled the globe working as an editor, producer, and writer as well as interviewing major players in the gaming world.