DraftKings-Celtics DFS Deal Shows Absurdity of Massachusetts Sports Betting Inaction

Written By Derek Helling on February 18, 2020 - Last Updated on March 1, 2023
Boston Celtics NBA Finals odds update, from playma.com

On the day that DraftKings announced official sports betting partnerships with two other NBA teams, the Celtics’ DFS partnership seems like a participation trophy. The only reason for that is that other powers in Boston remain inactive.

DraftKings is now the official daily fantasy games provider for the NBA team it shares a city with. The Massachusetts state government also calls Boston home, and that’s the root of the problem right now.

Details of the Celtics’ DFS partnership with DraftKings

DraftKings will have more of a presence at the TD Garden going forward. That not only includes signage at Celtics games but sponsorships of watch parties and user sweepstakes.

“Daily fantasy sports players are amongst the most highly engaged NBA fans,” said Celtics Team President Rich Gotham. “We’re happy to collaborate with our hometown partner, DraftKings, to serve Celtics fans through a variety of group activations and game day elements, including the presentation of our starting lineup across social channels.”

“It is with great enthusiasm that we announce these multi-year partnerships with the Celtics, 76ers, and Pacers. The NBA represents DraftKings’ second-most-popular sport, and we are thrilled to offer our fanbase a continually unique and authentic sports gaming product,” said Ezra Kucharz, chief business officer at DraftKings. “Each of these partnerships represent a common strategy and stress the importance NBA teams and DraftKings place on fan engagement and overall customer experience.”

In regards to the 76ers and Pacers, the partnership includes both DFS games and sports betting. Wagering on sports is legal in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

Because of that, the partnerships are likely worth more for those two NBA franchises as compared to what Boston received. On the flip side, DraftKings’ ability to market its partnership with the Celtics is limited to just DFS games.

It’s ironic that DraftKings can’t currently operate in the state it calls home to the same extent it can in other states. It’s perhaps even more ironic, however, that a state with such a strong showing in annual sporting events is unfriendly to wagering.

Even more maddeningly, the state isn’t doing much of anything to address that situation. On the issue of sportsbook legalization, it’s crickets in Boston.

The complete lack of activity at the state capitol on wagering

One of the safest bets regarding Massachusetts is that nothing will happen on this topic soon. There hasn’t been any activity on that front in almost seven months.

Late last July, there was a mostly informational legislative hearing. Since that time, there have been no further hearings or new legislation proposed.

The general consensus seems to be that gambling expansion isn’t a high priority in Boston. While casino executives have issued public calls for legalization, there has been no mass uproar in the state on the issue either.

That’s especially peculiar given how many entities in the state could benefit from sports betting legalization. In addition to the Celtics, DraftKings and the TD Garden, that could include:

  • Boston Bruins
  • New England Patriots
  • Boston Red Sox
  • New England Revolution
  • Boston Pride
  • GameSense
  • Massachusetts Lottery
  • Encore Boston Harbor
  • MGM Springfield
  • Plainridge Park
  • Gillette Stadium
  • Fenway Park
  • In-state agencies that work with people with compulsive gambling issues
  • Massachusetts state treasury

While this partnership with the Celtics represents a lift in visibility for DraftKings’ brand, it’s somewhat of a consolation prize. Neither side will be able to realize the full value of the relationship until Massachusetts gets up to speed.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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